Chef Lydia Shire was born in 1948 in Brookline, Massachusetts. She married and had three children with her former husband Tom Shire. She started waiting tables at the famous Pall Mall jazz club, but cooking and baking were her passion. In 1971, Lydia baked a butter cream cake and took it on an interview at Maison Robert, the great French restaurant in Boston, and got a job as “kitchen grunt”.
But Lydia wanted a spot on the hot line with the boys, so she took a leave of absence, hocked her wedding ring, and went to London to register at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. During the day was school, and at night she partied at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.
When she returned to Boston and Maison Robert, she worked her way up to head chef, and from 1975, worked in the kitchens of Harvest, Copley Plaza Cafe and Parker House. In 1982 to 1985, Chef Lydia moved over to the Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel to work under Great Chef Jasper White, as executive sous chef, and eventually became the Executive Chef.
In 1986 she moved out to Los Angeles to become the first female chef of the Four Seasons Beverly Hills hotel. That’s where Great Chefs Television first caught up with her to tape a Chicken Thigh entrée for their Great Chefs of the West series.
In 1987, she returned to Boston to open her famous restaurant “BIBA”. Great Chefs again, in 1994, stopped by to tape her Lobster Crisp at Biba for their Great Chefs of the East series. In 2000, we taped Chef Shire and Great Chef Susan Regis (now at Pava’s) preparing a Roasted Foie Gras Risotto.
After September 11, 2001, Biba’s was closed only to reopen the next year as Excelsior Restaurant, and whose owners hired Chef Lydia Shire as their Executive Chef. She left in 2005 to open and run Scampo’s, one of Boston’s fine Italian restaurants, and in 2013, Restaurant News bestowed another award upon her, by inducting her into their Fine Dining Hall of Fame.