Chef Jody Adams
A James Beard award-winner, the chef/owner of Rialto in Cambridge and the Chef and Co-Owner of TRADE, Jody Adams has been praised for her creativity, support of local farmers, continuous charitable work, and business acumen by local and national publications from The Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal to Gourmet, Food & Wine and The New York Times. She was a recent contestant on the second season of Top Chef Masters, BRAVO TV’s popular culinary competition, where she prevailed through cooking challenges like offsite wedding wars, preparing a meal for a member of the Simpson Family, and feeding the cast and crew of the television show Modern Family, before finally meeting her nemesis in the form of a frozen goat leg. On November 22, Jody was inducted into the Massachusetts Hospitality Hall of Fame.
Jody’s commitment to supporting local farms and purveyors extends beyond her restaurants’ doors. In 2008, she launched an internal educational program, Guerilla Grilling, designed to connect her staff (both front and back of the house) to the farmers and artisan producers that supply the restaurant. As a team, Rialto’s Guerilla Grillers have visited local vegetable farms, cheese producers, an oyster farm and even a chocolate factory.
Jody is actively involved in organizations that support children’s advocacy and hunger relief both domestically and internationally. She is committed to supporting The Greater Boston Food Bank, Share Our Strength and Partners In Health. In October 2010 Jody was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year award by Share Our Strength.
Jody’s culinary career began after graduating with a degree in Anthropology from Brown University. She began as a line cook at Seasons restaurant in the famed Bostonian Hotel under chef Lydia Shire in 1983. Three years later, she helped open Hamersley’s Bistro with Gordon Hamersley as his sous chef. In 1990, she took the executive chef position at Michela’s in Cambridge. While at Michela’s, Jody developed her reputation for carefully-researched regional menus that combined New England ingredients with Italian culinary traditions. And, in 1993, Food & Wine Magazine named Jody “one of America’s ten best new chefs.” In September 1994, Jody opened Rialto. Four months after the new restaurant’s opening, The Boston Globe awarded Rialto four stars, the newspaper’s highest rating, proclaiming that, “eating Jody Adams’ food at the stunning new Rialto is like stepping into a winter greenhouse just at the moment a spectacular hothouse orchid bursts into bloom, filling the senses.” The public quickly took notice, with awards and press accolades streaming in over the years. In 1997, Jody received the James Beard Foundation award for The Perrier-Jouet Best Chef Award: Northeast.
In addition to running Rialto, Adams published a cookbook, In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant (Harper Collins Publishers; January 2002). She co-wrote the book with her husband, Ken Rivard. In 2004 Gourmet named Rialto one of “world’s best hotel restaurants.”
In January of 2007, Jody bought out her partners and became the sole owner of Rialto. With the help of famed architect Maryann Thompson, she renovated the restaurant, introducing a new design aesthetic with diaphanous curtains, s-shaped banquettes and a color palate of sage, wheat and white. The new décor was paired with a new menu, now focused on regional Italian cuisine. The changes were met with praise from the public and the press. The Boston Globe awarded the renovated Rialto four stars once again and Esquire Magazine named Rialto one of the best restaurants in the country in 2007. Most recently, Rialto was awarded a four-star rating from Mobile Travel Guides.
In Fall 2011 Jody and her husband launched a food blog called the Garum Factory.