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.
Raised in upstate New York, Elissa Rae began working in the back of the house at 13 years old,when she realized she wanted to work in restaurants. With that ambition, Elissa attended New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and graduated in 2001. From there, she relocated to Las Vegas where she really cut her teeth in the hospitality Industry. For several years Elissa worked as a chef at The Rio Hotel and Casino. She later transitioned to the front of house at both Spago and then Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. In 2007, Elissa leveraged her hospitality experience into working full-time in event production and design with Power Event Productions, where she worked between Southern California and Nevada.
In 2008 Elissa made the move back east and relocated to Nantucket where she worked for Seth and Angela Raynor at The Pearl as their front of house manager. When urban living beckoned, she hopped the boat to Boston. In 2011 she began her journey at TRADE as Asst. GM and Wine Director. In 2013 she was promoted to General Manger. When Elissa is not working or unwinding with a glass of Godello, you can find her on her bike or, in the winter months, snowboarding with her husband.