Edibles : Chef Barbara Lynch at The Catch
Tonight at The Catch at The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown, award-winning, European-trained chef and restaurant owner Barbara Lynch will prepare a seven-course Chef's tasting menu, complete with selected wines. It promises to be extraordinary.
Chef Lynch's accomplishments are impressive. Boston Magazine named her Beacon Hill restaurant, No. 9 Park, as one of the 25 best in 2005. She is the only American member of Les Nouvelles Mères Cuisinières, a group of female chefs. In August she will open three new restaurants in Boston.
"In terms of being a chef and a business owner, I have an advantage. When I started I was often the only female on the line, but I worked as hard as anyone else. I could get it out as quick as any of the guys could. I put my head down and did what I had to do to get to the top." She says, "Forget about everyone else, get your job done the way you would want to see it done, and put out the best performance every single night."
This evening's event is a result of Chef Lynch's acquaintance with The Catch's chef, Chris Parson. She lives in Winchester, where Chef Parson operates a restaurant where she frequently dines. The relationship between the two chefs is one of appreciation and respect. "I love his food. It is very similar to mine. It is a little more Californian/American than mine, but it is good, clear, and clean, with great flavors and good technique," she states.
Mr. Parson invited her to guest chef at The Catch. "We spoke of this idea over a year ago," he says, "and finally we pinned down a date and agreed to showcase her food." He explains, "Our role is to produce the food. Her team will build the framework, and we will source the ingredients."
Ms. Lynch visited the Island in November and was very impressed with the list of Island farms. "I asked Chris, 'How's the produce and proteins out here?' and he said, 'They are unbelievable.'"
Tonight's early summer, regionally inspired menu focuses on local produce and meats, and will include, clams, Maine lobster, and tiny local strawberries and strawberry blossoms for seasoning. The striped bass on the menu will come from New York, as the commercial season here is not yet open. Caviar and foie gras will also be served.
Although the menu is roughed in, it may yet change. Mr. Parsons will visit the Farmer's Market just before they begin the dinner. "We like to keep it fresh," he explains, noting that the trip to the market may adjust the menu slightly.
The benefit of buying local is an exciting venture for chefs, even though a menu using local items can change up to four times during a season. Selections often have to be put on hold, especially in the fish department. However the menu changes are usually only slight. Ms. Lynch says, "For example - peaches, they are only in season a month or a month and half."
But still buying local is the way to go, according to her. "We try to use as much local food as we can, even here in Boston, believe it or not, because we have a lot of farms in the suburbs," she related.
"Buying local supports the community," she says. "The flavor is also better. One of my farms, well, I can't wait to get his arugula, it is so peppery, you only need a little salt and lemon juice and a little bit of olive oil, there is so much flavor it is crazy! His broccoli and carrots, they are so sweet. The turnips you can eat raw. The peas... it is a completely different taste. You can't describe the difference," she emphasized.
Ms. Lynch will be traveling to the Island with her wine director, Cat Silirie, and Chef Colin Lynch, as well as her husband and daughter. Traveling and cooking is not new to Ms. Lynch. She is not nervous about finding her way around The Catch's kitchen tonight. "Chris is a strong chef, so if we are in the weeds, he will help us," she says, adding, "My staff is used to me being a lunatic and saying, 'Let's do this, let's do that.' We don't set ourselves up for failure."
Dinner will be accompanied by selected wines. Ms. Silirie, known for her support of small organic vintners, prepared the wine list, which include: a Spanish wine from a family-owned house near Barcelona, Gramona Gessami Blanco and Domaine Saint Nicolas "Cuvee Jacques" Fief Vendéen Rouge, a biodynamic wine from the Loire delta. There will be wine from the Monbazillac region of southwestern France: Chateau Tireceul La Graviere "Les Pins" Monbazillac, where for centuries through Noble Rot, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes produced liquoreux wines of the same quality as those that come from the Tokaj region of Hungary. This wine created from young vines has, according to the Chateau, "a simple but elegant approach due to the wonderful terroir at Tirecul."
Welcome to the Vineyard, Chef Lynch.
The dinner will be from 6 to 9:30 pm at The Catch at The Charlotte Inn, 27 South Summer Street, Edgartown. For reservations, call 508-627-7200.
Tamar Russell is on the graphic production staff at The Times.