Robert Adams believes that everyone has at least three talents. For Adams, his talents are writing, marketing, and cooking but not necessarily in that order. Adams entered the food world as a young busboy, later becoming the assistant Manager of The Changing Scene restaurant in his hometown of Rochester, New York, at the age of 19, the same year he received a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management (SUNY Delhi). For someone who would become the personal butler to Leona Helmsley, the food service industry would seem to be his destiny. Adams, however, was not content with the status quo. He felt he “needed to explore more corners of the world.” And travel he did. From driving an 18 wheeler to sailing the Caribbean, he had soon logged enough miles on land and sea to be quoted extensively as “an experienced traveler” in a New York Times article, which also featured Charles Kurault.
But world travelers often make some of their most illuminating discoveries right in their own backyards. Returning to Rochester, Adams pooled his three talents to crystallize an idea that had been simmering in the back of his mind for nearly a decade. Here he would compile a cookbook that would be a tribute to the bravery and talent of North America’s firefighters. Having established his own publishing company in 1993, Adams wrote what would become a national bestseller, Food from America’s Bravest: A North American Experience in Firehouse Cooking. Since then, the cookbook has gone through six printings (with Penguin USA and most recently with Random House under the title Firehouse Cooking: Food from North America’s Bravest) and has been featured on QVC and Valu-Vision Cable. Adams, nicknamed “Island Dog” by fellow shipmates sailing the Caribbean, has proved that “you can go home again,” and with great success.
Adams believes that communal dining is a treasured pastime, and that firefighters epitomize this spirit. With the table set, and the ever-present awareness that an alarm might sound, these brave men and women are still able to prepare hearty, down-to-earth, and often wonderful meals together. In Adams’s words, “For all their hard work and courage, I wanted to honor them with a book from their contemporaries around the continent.” Adams made it a labor of love to visit and write to firehouses throughout North America asking for their recipes. Having received hundreds from the US and Canada, he edited and compiled them into one volume. The cookbook went on to sell more than 200,000 copies in 57 countries, and it was featured in a segment on firehouse cooking on Good Morning America.
The resounding success of Firehouse Cooking, along with the warm reception received around the world from firefighters and their supporters, has encouraged Adams to begin writing more quality cookbooks. The tireless cook and author continues to travel, and is soon embarking upon a new business venture that will include a catalog of fine firefighters’ products. Apart from being an enthusiastic firefighter supporter, Adams is also quietly involved with a variety of charities, including the American Red Cross, The Community Health Network, and Peaceart International. He lives in Rochester, New York.