“I never stand still,” says the James Beard Award-winning Chef Jody Adams. Believe it. In 2016, after an incredible 22-year run, she shut the doors on her Harvard Square restaurant Rialto and officially stepped away from fine dining. It was anticlimactic. The opening in 2011 of her second restaurant, TRADE, a raucous small-plates bar and eatery in the Russia Wharf Building on Boston’s Greenway, was a declaration of sorts: great food does not depend on white tablecloths. For that matter, it didn’t even depend on table service. Saloniki, her fast-casual new Greek restaurant in the Fenway, has had lines snaking out the door almost from its opening day in 2015. The enthusiastic reception the Fenway restaurant has since spawned a spinoff, Saloniki Cambridge, where student, residents and workers in the MIT neighborhood are making its success a happy rival to its Fenway sister.
Faithful Rialto diners who wondered if they’d ever get to taste Adams’ signature style of cooking again found a safe harbor this past summer in her new sit-down restaurant Porto, next to Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Dishes like octopus with harissa-braised eggplant; steamed littlenecks with fennel and guanciale; whole roasted lobster with feta and artichokes and grilled ribeye steak with black garlic sauce, asparagus and morels; evoke Adam’s reputation for Mediterranean inspiration brought to New England ingredients. Adams’ 3-decade-long career got a surprising start with a degree in anthropology from Brown University, then took more conventional turns with important stages in the kitchens of Lydia Shire and Gordon Hamersley. She is known as an early and strong supporter of the
Adams’ 3-decade-long career got a surprising start with a degree in anthropology from Brown University, then took more conventional turns with important stages in the kitchens of Lydia Shire and Gordon Hamersley. She is known as an early and strong supporter of the the farm-to-table movement. She has written a book, IN THE HANDS OF A CHEF, with her husband Ken Rivard, with whom she also started THE GARUM FACTORY, a popular photo-rich blog devoted to home cooking.
She has been a contestant on TOP CHEF MASTERS. The subject of dozens of dozens of print articles, radio and tv interviews, she continues to be a tireless advocate for women in the culinary industry. Her employees know her as someone who advances their own aspirations. While she has a closetful of “best” awards, she’s most proud of her charitable work, particularly for organizations that advocate for children’s welfare or combat hunger like the Boston Food Bank. In 2010 she received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Share our Strength. During regular visits to Haiti, she helps to shape and maintain the hospitality programs for Partners in Health facilities.
Adams might now be perched at the pinnacle of her career – new restaurants, new ventures, new challenges – except that another pinnacle might be just around the corner. She’s definitely not standing still.