Lydia Shire

Chef and Owner

Boston, MA

Born in Brookline, MA, and raised by artist parents, Shire grew up learning the importance of bringing quality to everything you do in life. At age four, Shire was peeling garlic alongside her father as he cut out recipes from The New York Times. Her first professional position was slicing paté and opening oysters as the “salad girl” at Boston’s revered Maison Robert. In 1971, Shire attended London’s Cordon Bleu Cooking School, after which she returned to Maison Robert but this time as a line cook. Three years later, in 1974, Shire became the head chef of this prestigious dining room.

Throughout the ‘70s, Shire made her mark in Boston’s most respected restaurants: Harvest, Café Plaza at The Copley Plaza Hotel and Parker’s at the Parker House Hotel. In 1982, she opened Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel with Jasper White. The James Beard Foundation awarded Shire the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage” award in 1984. In the fall of 1986, Shire was asked to open the new Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. This move made Shire the first female Executive Chef in the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts Company to open a luxury property. A few years later, the sun and glamour of California could not sway Shire from her ultimate dream of opening her own restaurant in Boston and in 1989, she returned to Boston and launched BIBA (“Back in Boston Again”).

In 1992, the James Beard Foundation honored Shire as “America’s Best Chef – Northeast.” That same year, Food & Wine reported that Shire was “One of America’s Top Ten Chefs.” After opening Pignoli, a robust Italian bistro in Park Plaza, to rave reviews in 1994, Shire earned the prestigious Ivy Award by Restaurants & Institutions magazine, and the James Beard Foundation again acknowledged Shire, this time nominated as “One of America’s Top Five Chefs” in 1996.

In 2001, Shire sent a shock through Boston’s culinary scene as she dared to take over the city’s venerable Locke-Ober. Again, she made history as the chef and owner of an institution that had prohibited women from its dining room for 97 years. Shire restored the restaurant’s opulence and grand tradition of fine American and European cuisine.

Shire launched her sixth culinary destination, Scampo, the dynamic first floor restaurant in Boston’s Liberty Hotel, in 2008. Recognized that year by Esquire magazine as one of the “Best New Restaurants” in America, Scampo defies tradition with its Italian-inspired cuisine unrestrained by borders and inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean and Middle East. During the summer of 2010, Shire opened the internationally eclectic Towne Stove and Spirits in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood which was also recognized by Esquire magazine as “Best New Restaurant” in 2011. The same year, Shire also was named amongst “The Top 10 Most Badass Women Chefs in America” by The Daily Meal.