A couple of weeks ago, Brookline resident Jody Adams did something she hadn’t done in 17 years: she opened a brand new restaurant.
TRADE is located in the Waterfront District, in walking distance from the Aquarium and Financial District and just an angry shout away from the Occupy Boston encampment.
“It’s actually gotten us a lot of attention,” Adams notes with amusement. “They’re [the camera crews] here, and there we are – in the background.”
But TRADE and Adams don’t really need this kind of publicity- the restaurant has been solidly booked and the reviews have been glowing since the doors opened on October 25.
And Adams’ first restaurant, Rialto, is still going strong. Five years ago, they did a complete overhaul of both the environs and the menu.
“There’s this wonderful exploration of different regions,” Adams explains. “Every two months we focus on a different region and take what’s best of the season and interpret it in a presentation of a typical Italian four courses. Rialto is [now] this wonderful place where people can have that experience.”
It’s not surprising that Adams felt the need to make radical changes to her already successful restaurant. She’s never been one to sit still. Even when she made the decision earlier in her career to leave Hamersley’s Bistro to spend more time with her family, she continued to build her reputation as a chef at Michela’s. She also began her lifelong commitment to partnering with non-profits devoted to eradicating hunger.
“There are three organizations that I have aligned myself with- a local, a national and an international. The Greater Boston Food Bank, Share Our Strength and Partners in Health, and there are lots of others that I work with in varying ways.” (Check their websites for upcoming events with which Adams is involved.)
“I’m also working with Future Chefs,” Adams notes. “They work through the schools. One of our sous chefs went through the program, and we’re going to have two spots for them in the kitchen and maybe front of the house as well.”
In addition to having two restaurants to run, non-profits to support, and a culinary bike trip to Italy next fall to plan, Adams has even more ways of bringing good food to more people. She is teaching demonstration cooking classes at Rialto on Saturdays, and even in her home kitchen she loves to give people “the satisfaction of having participated in the creation of the meal.”
As if that weren’t enough she and her husband, writer Ken Rivard, have started a blog together. The Garum Factory (named after an ancient Roman condiment) focuses on one dish per week and gives some insight into their playful, warm relationship where food is a central element.
When the couple is home in Brookline, they like to eat out at and “because they’re in walking distance.” And believe it or not, when she’s home Adams likes to prepare a dish so simple most of us could make it as well.
“Roasted vegetables!” Adams says emphatically. “My favorite thing to do is to go to , go home, and roast. All the sugars caramelize and you get the essence of the flavor. It’s perfect.”
It’s likely that this homey dish, or some facsimile thereof, may find its way onto TRADE’s menu. Adams plans to have the menu change as different ingredients become available locally and seasonally. She and chef Andrew Hebert are inspired by these shifts and by the world travels of Adams and partners Sean Griffing and Eric Papachristos. She also knows that the customers are the final word on what stays on the menu and what goes.
“If something’s not selling, take it off the menu,” says Adams, with a resolute gesture. “We want everything to be flexible.”
Adams has looked at spaces in Brookline for her ventures, but for the time being she is focusing on Rialto and TRADE…and the many other things she has going on, all of which make her happy.
“This is my life. I love this life. I feel so lucky.”