Food for Thought

Chef Jody Adams draws inspiration from her worldly travels.

By | Boston Home |
jody-adams-rialto-obsessions

“It’s the beautiful, raw ingredients that determine what food tastes like— not how fancy the kitchen is.” (Photograph by Matt Kalinowski)

After graduating from Brown with a degree in anthropology, chef Jody Adams began her rise to the top of Boston’s restaurant scene when she was just 25. “When I came to Boston, I was told I was too inexperienced and too female to make it,” she says. Naysayers be damned, Adams took a gig working with Lydia Shire and Gordon Hamersley at Seasons at the Bostonian Hotel, and the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, Adams is the chef-owner of the Italian-inspired restaurant Rialto, at the Charles Hotel, and a co-owner of the waterfront hot spot Trade. A world traveler, Adams infuses her dishes with international flavors and locally sourced ingredients. Here, the Brookline resident shares some of the things that spark her creativity in her own cucina.

 

1. SEASONAL HERBS

“September is such a great time of year for farmers, and wild herbs have much higher nutrient levels,” Adams says. Varieties like toasted sage and sorrel “give foods unique flavor, nutrition, and lend a particular memory about an experience.”

2. FARMERS’ MARKETS 

“I was so excited to see one pop up outside the Charles Hotel,” Adams says. “I think everyone should support farmers as much as possible. Even food-assistance programs in Massachusetts have access to farmers’ markets these days.”

3. MUSEUM HOPPING 

“The redesigns of both the MFA and the Gardner Museum are just fabulous—there’s so much to see,” she says. “And visiting them is something that my teenage daughter will still do with me.”

4. HAITI

As a board member at Partners in Health, Adams once hosted a Haitian woman who was heading up a brand-new teaching hospital that was built after the earthquake. “For some people, food is the first medicine because they don’t have enough,” she says.

5. BEYT BY 2B DESIGN

This Cambridge-based design house offers décor and furnishings fashioned from antique ironwork. “They have beautiful things,” Adams says, pointing out two light fixtures crafted from old kitchen sieves on display by Rialto’s bar.

6. TRAVEL 

Adams observed kitchens in Morocco, Guatemala, France, Portugal, Holland, and Spain before returning to Boston to start her cooking career. There she learned to “keep it simple and efficient, with lots of counter space and enough sinks,” she says.

7. CYCLING

“When you’re on a bike, you feel young, light, powerful. And it’s a great way to see the world. I’ve started figuring out how to make food that can go in your back pocket when you’re riding,” says Adams, who is known to make spring rolls with veggies for a bike ride.

 

ON FILE

What I’m Watching 

Breaking Bad.

“It makes you question morals and integrity and realize that life’s choices don’t always fit into a box.”

What I’m Drinking 

Negroni.

“It reminds me of my father because he used to drink them.”

What I’m Listening To

Arcade Fire.

“They speak about substantive issues without making it too heavy.”

Where I’m Traveling 

South France.

“It’s rolling hills, and simply just a beautiful part of the country.”

What I’m Reading 

Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.

“She had a life that required a lot of strength.”

What I’m Blogging

Adams started her food blog, Garum Factory, with her husband in 2011.

“Once a week I choose a recipe, set up the mise en place, he photographs as I’m cooking, and then he writes the introduction, and I write a little blurb at the end,” she says.