Time magazine has named Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch to its highly anticipated list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Lynch, who has built a seven-restaurant empire, is the only chef to make the list this year. She joins world leaders like British Prime Minister Theresa May, athletes like LeBron James, activists like Melinda Gates and actors like Ryan Reynolds.
“I am still processing it,” Lynch said in a written statement. “I have truly experienced the American Dream in building a company from the ground up that creates opportunities for passionate people devoted to the dining experience, where I can inspire, educate and contribute to my community.”
Lynch had a rough childhood in South Boston, growing up with six siblings and a single mother. In her recently released memoir, “Out of Line,” she describes living in a poor housing project in a rough neighborhood run by infamous crime boss Whitey Bulger. At points in her life, she turned to drugs, drinking and petty theft.
A two-time James Beard award winner, Lynch has been an advocate for women in the hospitality industry. As she plans to transfer ownership of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo to her employees, she’s working on plans to open a bank for women that will help them learn to invest in and build businesses. (The bank would also forgo ATM and checking fees.) She’s also in the process of creating a line of dehydrated vegetables.