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A new book. A new restaurant. A new cause. It's been a busy year for James Beard Awardзwinning chef Jody Adams, who for more than a decade has been a fixture in the Boston restaurant scene.

In January, Adams released her first cookbook, In the Hands of a Chef (William Morrow, $34.95), cowritten with her husband, Ken Rivard. The book features recipes Adams serves to family and friends at home but also includes a number of dishes from her Cambridge restaurant, Rialto. The recipes range from a goat-cheese terrine with dried figs and hazelnuts to roast duck in green-olive and balsamic-vinegar sauce and braised chicken in mustard with garlic and mascarpone. Adams calls the cuisine "artisinal home food."

"The emphasis is not on providing a cookbook for people that get home at five and want to serve dinner at six," Adams said in January during a phone interview from Chicago, where she was promoting the cookbook. "That's not where my strengths lie. I'm trying to show people how to have fun in the kitchen." Although some of the recipes may be demanding, none requires professional skills. "None of the dishes belongs to the juggle-four-oranges-in-the-air-while-fanning-the-squabs-with-your-foot school of cooking," Adams writes in the book.

In the Hands of a Chef was published just months after Adams and her Rialto partners opened blu, an upscale restaurant that shares space with a tony Boston fitness club. Although Adams is still cooking at Rialto, she designed blu's classic American- and European-influenced menu with the restaurant's chef, Dante de Magistris.

Besides being a busy chef, writer, and entrepreneur, Adams is the devoted mother of two children. She founded Nurturing It's a Natural, a public-service campaign to promote good parenting, after reading news accounts of a particularly horrific case of child abuse that, she says, "knocked me cold." "What I do in the restaurant is very much giving, it's very much nurturing," Adams says. "But I [only] hit a certain part of the population, and I really wanted to be involved in something that touched people in a different kind of way and made a difference in a different kind of way."

Nurturing It's a Natural is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services but funded through private money. The program spreads its message through newspaper advertisements, subway posters, a Web site, and grassroots marketing. Organizers also hope to sponsor events, such as a kids' conference and a celebration of children's day.

Adams says getting involved in the campaign has helped keep her grounded. "If you're only worried about running a high-end restaurant, you can lose touch," she says. "I don't want to do that."


Ƞ For more information about Nurturing It's a Natural, go to http://www.state.ma.us/dss/Nurturing/Nurturing.htm.




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