Chef and Co-Owner
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 off-site wedding wars, preparing a meal for a Lisa Simpson, 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 child’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.
Sean Griffing is a 15-year veteran of the Boston restaurant scene. Although, he did not set out to be a restaurateur, his childhood provided him with arguably the two most essential skills for the industry – an ability to relate to people and a love for food and wine.
Griffing’s father was in the military so the family moved every two to three years. With each move, Griffing honed the skill of befriending new people quickly and finding ease in any environment. His Italian mother’s roots brought the family back to Sicily frequently; “At a young age I recognized – and loved – that in Sicily the world stops at 1pm to eat,” he says in reference to the connection between family values and food that he learned of while traveling.
Griffing moved to Boston in 1996 to study Chemistry at Northeastern University with the intention to be an Environmental or Patent Lawyer; however, he sought a reprieve from the long hours in the lab and found it while working as a server at Mercury Bar. “I realized the industry was my calling during college; I loved being around people and I was always curious about the possibilities, the newness that each day would bring,” he says. It was at Mercury Bar that Griffing became close friends with then bartender and now business partner, Eric Papachristos.
Upon graduating from Northeastern, Griffing quickly advanced through the ranks of Boston’s hospitality scene – he worked as Bar Manager at Trio in Boston’s Leather District and then as General Manager of Noir at The Charles Hotel, where he worked directly with Rialto chef Jody Adams. In 2009, Griffing achieved critical career success when he became General Manager of Rialto. During his time there, Rialto was named “Best Restaurant in Overall Excellence” by Boston Magazine.
Griffing introduced Adams to Eric Papachristos and the three began exploring Boston restaurant real estate. Mutual ambitions to open a casual restaurant in one of Boston’s emerging neighborhoods led to an intensive and successful search for TRADE’s current home at Atlantic Wharf. In the process, the trio formed a genuine friendship, based as much on their works in the industry as on their passions outside of it.
At TRADE, Griffing leads the front of house with a specific focus on hospitality – one that extends to vendors, staff and guests: “I want everyone on our staff to have a genuine connection with the restaurant and a sense of ownership of their work. I know that this internal culture translates to guests and nothing is more important to me than for guests to feel comfortable, special and known when they visit TRADE.”
When not at TRADE, Griffing is most likely on a bike- his intense passion for cycling even inspired him to ride 192 miles in two days, alongside Papachristos and Adams, in the Pan-Mass Challenge in June 2011. The partners and their team raised $64,000 for The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Griffing looks forward to more rides that combine his athleticism with non-profit works.
Eric Papachristos is a self-made restaurateur whose interest in the hospitality industry formed at an early age. As the co-owner of TRADE, he draws on a career trajectory distinct for its incredible depth and diversity.
Born in Boston, Papachristos spent the first nine years of his life in Thessaloniki, Greece. The simple lifestyle, where meals were a family occasion with a focus on conversation, set the foundation for his approach to the hospitality industry. When his family moved back to United States, settling in Weymouth, Massachusetts, his father purchased a variety store, and just a few years later, Papachristos and his older brother suggested it be transformed into a deli. They assumed the roles of dishwasher and cook respectively and Papachristos launched a side business: selling the deli’s subs at school. “I had a 30-day waitlist for a sub and an excel sheet for orders; my locker was my office,” he says smiling.
With a strong suit in business, Papachristos went to Suffolk University and graduated with both a Bachelors in Business and a Masters of Business Administration. While in school, he bartended at Mercury Bar and Pravda and formed a friendship with TRADE’s co-owner Sean Griffing. In 2000, he moved to Los Angeles and gained key industry experience as the Food & Beverage Manager for the city’s much-anticipated Standard Hotel. He returned to Boston to work at Harvard University as the Financial Business Manager of the IT Department from 2001-2004. While working, he also earned his Masters of Science in Finance at Northeastern University.
In 2004, Pravda and Mercury Bar’s owners, who were opening Gypsy Bar, approached Papachristos and he became a partner in the venture. A year later, he went to Ropes and Gray LLP as Team Lead in the Financial Planning and Analysis Group. While there, in 2007, he bought Victoria’s Diner, a 65-year old, 200-seat restaurant in Boston with business partner George Athanasopoulos. They tripled the business within a year and a half and in 2008 the two opened the Hen House, a quick-serve fried chicken and waffle restaurant. Papachristos brought Sean Griffing on as an integral partner and credits him as instrumental to the opening’s success.
When Griffing moved over to Rialto as General Manager, he introduced Papachristos to Chef Jody Adams. The three developed a fast friendship and a shared interest in looking at restaurant real estate. By the time they found TRADE’s space at Atlantic Wharf, an organic partnership had formed and the opportunity to work together felt like a given. “We each fit a piece of the puzzle,” says Papachristos, “Our different skills are very complementary with Jody handling menus, tasting, and back of the house; Sean leading the front of the house, service and wine and myself overseeing vendors, business development and design. We have a seamless, high energy team dynamic that keeps me inspired.”
Papachristos recently sold the Hen House and Victoria’s Diner, devoting his energy entirely to TRADE. He has lived just one mile away from the restaurant for the past four years and takes great pride in the Waterfront’s growth. With a passion for travel, Papachristos returns to Greece as much as possible and finds key insights into his roots through the country’s culinary personality. A health enthusiast, he is devoted to CrossFit’s rigorous workouts and is even certified as a CrossFit Trainer. In June 2011, he rode 192 miles in two days, alongside Griffing and Adams, in the Pan-Mass Challenge to raise money for The Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Hailing from Yorktown, Virginia, Andrew Hebert absorbed a love for the kitchen through the family meals his Italian mother cooked. Hebert got his start cooking at The Trellis in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and after learning the basics, he pursued a degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University. Upon graduating in 2004, Hebert was drawn to Boston’s burgeoning food scene and found his first post in Boston working under Chef Jody Adams as a line cook at blu in The Sports Club/LA. The two instantly clicked, falling into the kind of easy, collaborative chef-protégé relationship that can be rare to find amidst the chaos of the kitchen.
In 2006 he moved to Rialto, Adams’ acclaimed restaurant at The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. Hebert remained at Rialto for four and a half years, serving as Executive Sous Chef from 2008-2010. It was here he developed his cooking style, which grew from observing Adams in the kitchen. He recounts his amazement at her sophisticated and discerning palate and gratitude for how she illustrated that it is possible to take something as simple as a slice of tomato or a bed of arugula and make it awe-inspiring in taste. “Jody is constantly traveling and bringing back unique ideas for ingredients and flavor combination,” he says.
Aside from such formative impressions, Hebert’s cooking style draws much from his Italian heritage – he admires Italy’s emphasis on regional and seasonal ingredients and this has allowed New England’s seasons to direct his cooking. “The food that is available changes so dramatically from one season to the next in New England that I get excited about fiddleheads and ramps in the Spring and hate to see them go, but then tomatoes and corn arrive in the Summer and I am newly excited about those. Fall, my favorite season, brings all kinds of inspiration in comfort foods like braised meats and stews.”
Hebert also takes particular joy in his relationships with local farmers and fishermen: “Seeing the face of a farmer that brings in her crop, picked that morning, still covered in soil, is a favorite part of my day – I am just as excited to use her vegetables as she is to sell them to me,” he says.
Craving a dose of warmer weather, Hebert recently spent 7 months on the line at Fig, a renowned restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina where he studied under Chef Mike Lata who won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2009.
The opportunity to team back up with Adams as the Executive Chef of TRADE was “a once in a lifetime experience” to Hebert. He and Adams drew from their seven-year history of working together to write TRADE’s menu.