Chef Lydia Shire is a pioneer in the Boston restaurant scene.
The culinary mastermind has become a beloved staple in the food community for decades, but Shire upped the ante in 2008 when she opened Scampo inside the Liberty Hotel in the Charles Street neighborhood.
The James Beard Award winner chats exclusively with OK! inside the famed eatery to talk about how she got her start, being close friends with Julia Child and how she paved the way for women in her industry.
"I had no experience in the restaurant business," she recalls of starting out in her career. "But I made a seven layer cake for my first job interview with real French buttercream. Did they ask me to? No! I just did it myself. That's how you get the job. You have to stand out from other people."
After attending the prestigious Cordon Bleu Cooking School in London, Shire crossed paths with the iconic television personality and became close friends throughout the years. "She really brought French food and a great sensibility of how to dine and cook well," she notes of Child. "For the American, the idea of making puff pastry never existed pre-Julia Child."
As for what she thinks her late friend would think of Meryl Streep portraying her in the 2009 film Julie & Julia, Shire laughs, "She would've loved it. She had such a great sense of humor!"
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As the head of the kitchen at the luxurious Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar, making sure everything runs smoothly can be a tricky task — especially for a female. "When I was the chef of the fancy dining room at Maser Robert, I was not strong enough to direct people," she recalls.
"I would prefer to just kind of go around and do it myself. That's a very woman thing to do," Shire says. "Many times women can't blurt it out. They just say, 'Oh, I'll go and do it myself.' But that's dangerous because you're not growing, you're not learning."