Jody Adams, Chef, Michela's Boston, MA

After Todd English checked out of Michela's two years ago to open his own Cambridge restaurant, we and others quickly proclaimed him a rising star for dropping Olives onto Boston's collective plate. But Michela's--which taught Boston area diners just how good earthy, sophisticated Northern Italian cooking can be--barely got passing grades from critics following his departure. The erudite Michela Larson, not used to failure in Harvard's backyard, made some changes that led to the hiring of Jody Adams, who had previously worked as sous chef at Seasons and Hamersley's Bistro. Almost immediately, food writers raved about Adams' ability to produce gutsy food with a light hand. "This woman can really cook, and the dinner experience at Michela's is once again as sharp and satisfying as ever," wrote Robert Levy of the Boston Globe. Boston magazine concurred, last year naming Adams the city's best new chef.