Chef Jody Adams is one of Chefs Collaborative’s founding Members. Our founders acknowledged their leadership in the celebration of food, and they recognized the impact of food choices on our collective personal health, on the vitality of cultures and on the integrity of the global environment.
Chefs Collaborative’s long history of activism is rooted in the popularity of a separate Boston-based organization. Dun Gifford, the patron saint of good food in Boston, founded Oldways in 1990 on the belief that bringing pre-industrial culinary cultures back into fashion with American chefs and food writers ultimately would make the country healthier and happier. That simple yet powerful idea inspired young Boston chefs including Jody Adams, Steve Johnson and Chris Schlesinger, Anna Sortun, and Chris Douglas, to do more than change their cooking methods. Chefs Collaborative empowered them to create a food system that provided them with better quality local ingredients, says Adams.
The organization was originally named “Chefs Collaborative 2000.” “The challenge was to have everything solved by 2000,” laughs Adams. To be fair, she says, they were thinking local – Massachusetts and New England. “It was all about working directly with farmers, streamlining chef interactions with farmers to make these relationships work for everyone. We made it easier for chefs to buy local,” she says, by faxing out the “Fresh Sheet” to area chefs detailing what local farmers had on offer each week.
“We were full of energy and passion and commitment to using our role as chefs as influencers and connectors,” says Adams. “We were raising lots of money and hosting regional summits at a time when the larger organization was just starting to have national summits. People from all over the country suddenly were connecting through Chefs Collaborative. Everyone was doing the same work, but doing it differently, and sharing the ways that worked for them.”
“We were talking about waste, composting, heirlooms, sustainable fisheries. A lot of ideas were exchanged. We had a real sense of power driving a conversation and commitment to quality food and the health of the planet. And we were bringing food issues to the attention of corporate America. That was powerful.”
“People want this food now,” says Adams. “And Chefs Collaborative pushed us to where we are today. The idea of bringing high quality food to a much larger group of people has taken hold.”
A James Beard award-winning chef who continues to create seasonal menus based on local ingredients, Adams closed her four-star Rialto in 2016 after a 22-year run to focus on casual dining. In 2011 she opened a new restaurant, Trade, in Boston’s historic Waterfront District. Four years later she opened Saloniki, her popular Greek fast casual restaurant, in the Fenway. Outlets in Central Square, 2016, and Harvard Square, 2018, followed. She opened Porto, a full-service modern Mediterranean restaurant next to Boston’s Sak’s Fifth Avenue, in 2016.
Adams supports the Greater Boston Food Bank, The Women’s Lunch Place and Share Our Strength, which named her Humanitarian of the Year in 2010. She serves on the board of Partners In Health.