Like every cook, I’m the product of a constellation of culinary influences—my mom, cooking classes, numberless cookbooks, memorable meals, travel, work experience, and the chefs who employed me. Even after I became a chef, with the freedom to explore my own instincts, it took a few years before everything I’d leaned shook itself into some kind of coherence: what I call “the kitchen in my head.” The practical result is that I have great confidence in my food. I love what I cook, whether at work or at home.
Most of my cooking life has revolved around a fascination for high-quality ingredients and figuring out the best ways of handling them. Although as a child I accompanied my mother on infrequent trips for baked goods or chicken at Italian shops on Federal Hill in Providence, these were exhilarating exceptions that proved the rule—most food came prepackages, from the supermarket. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, living in England during one of my father’s sabbaticals, with opportunities for travel to France and Italy, that I came to see an alternative to the supermarket model. In addition to the Oxford market with its stalls of vendors, there were the butcher shops with enameled trays of freshly killed rabbits, gleaming liver, and the occasional calf’s head. It soon became something of an obsession with me to visit markets wherever we traveled. When we returned to Providence, my mother and I began shopping regularly on Federal Hill. To this day, museums drain me after an hour of two, but I can wander through farmers’ markets all day and return home with my finds, energized for cooking.
Check out the following recipes from Jody Adams’ book In the Hands of a Chef:
1. Fresh Tomato Soup with Seared Eggplant Sandwiches
2. Minted Romaine Salad with Grapes, Ricotta Salata, and Toasted Almonds
3. Penne with Shrimp, Artichokes, and Feta
4. Roasted Rack of Lamb with Romaine Salad and Anchovy Dressing
5. Lemon-Almond Butter Cake
Excerpted from IN THE HANDS OF A CHEF by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard, copyright © 2002 by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard, reprinted with permission from William Morrow.