Our March "You & Julia" series features culinary icon Jody Adams, Chef and Owner of Porto in Boston. We talked with her about her very personal relationship with Julia Child and the profound local impact that Julia continues to have on so many of her female contemporaries in the food industry.
On how she was first introduced to Julia Child:
Jody: Back when I was in high school, Julia Child had come through town for a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood at the Rhode Island School of Design. I was there to wash dishes. She was rehearsing, and I heard the music — and I said, "What is this?" It sounded like like Mister Rogers' music! And somebody said, "That's Julia's theme to her show." So, I was introduced to Julia Child as a performer and was incredibly fortunate to have that experience.
On her personal relationship with Julia over the years:
Jody: When I ultimately did come to Boston and was working in a restaurant, she kept track of me and she invited me for lunch a couple of times, just to kind of check in, to see how I was doing. I was entering a world, at that time in the early 80s, that was not a common place for women to work, or to succeed, or to thrive.
Julia was Julia — always Julia, just her authentic self. I know that that's a cliché phrase, but she really embodied that. When I finally was a chef, and she came into my restaurant, I had put a steak on the menu that I thought was a really nice steak. She called me later and said, "You have to improve that steak, it's terrible!" And so, I did — I put a better steak on the menu.
On Julia’s influence on female chefs:
Jody: There's a question that is asked often: Why are there so many women chefs in Boston? I do believe that it had a great deal to do with Julia. That we could all see her, and she wasn't young. She started her professional cooking career in her early 50s, late 40s. So, imagine, as a 25-year-old seeing a person like that and thinking “yeah, I could do that.”
She was generous, and she gave — and it's inside of all of us, and people who do that live forever.
Watch Jody maker her homage to Julia's Homard Gratiné Au Miso.