“The table is where things happen, food is the common denominator.” — Jody Adams
When Jody Adams cooks, people line up to hear the skillet sizzle. After all, the James Beard Award-winning chef of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Rialto at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., isn’t just praised for her culinary creativity — she’s a trendsetter for all things healthy, tasty and good.
And she loves to share.
Adams kicked off her 2013 cooking classes last week at Rialto with a group of about 50 people armed with pens, paper and recipes.
The day starts with coffee and housemade scones in the lounge at Rialto before guests move into the main dining room, where a test kitchen is set up, ensuring a great view of Adams (and what and how she’s cooking) no matter where you sit.
The demonstrated cooking lesson is typically themed, but the conversation takes many turns. Last Sunday, we attended Adams’ “Comfort Cooking for Company” session, and the topics included everything from pressure cookers to the quality of school lunches.
Adams gives great tips to her “students,” such as the sharper the knife, the less tears you’ll have when cutting an onion. And did you know the easiest way to pit an olive is to smash it gently with a flat top (like a garlic or potato masher) and pull the pit out?
The recipes executed in the kitchen are presented to the class at the end of the demonstration during a sit-down lunch, and paired with various wines picked by Rialto beverage director Young Won. After the session, we sat down with Adams to find out what she’s up to.
“We all get up to go to the gym and we use our bodies,” said Adams. “But doing this [cooking] is exercise, too, and you get to touch food.”
Adams believes that working with food simply puts people in a good mood and transports them to a different place. She’s a firm believer that even the healthiest dishes can be beautiful and that food in any form can evoke emotion and provide a lifestyle boost — something that’s apparent in her work in and out of the kitchen.
The Breakfast Club is her joint effort with Let’s Talk About Food CEO Louisa Kasdon. The duo, together with other local chefs, health care professionals and educators, meet monthly to talk about ways to make school food better, healthier and tastier.
In the meantime, Adams continues to put her focus on Rialto and her newer Trade restaurant in Boston’s Financial District. Frequent guests at Rialto might notice some aesthetic changes — the bar area has new high-top tables and more seating options — but Adams assures us the comfort of the restaurant remains the same.
“Rialto is a different kind of restaurant,” she said. “This is a common gathering place. When I think of Rialto, I think gather, talk, eat and drink.”
Adams’ cooking classes at Rialto are $125, with tax and gratuity, and include a multi-course lunch and wine pairings. A portion of proceeds goes toward the Rialto Restaurant Scholarship offered yearly at the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School; you can also inquire about making an additional donation toward the Rialto Scholarship Fund.
Photos Courtesy of Rialto Restaurant