Adam James aka Rough Rice is a self-taught cook, fermenter and experiment maker. His obsession is the alchemy of fermentation, preservation, nutrition and flavour making. His work in fermentation takes traditional techniques from around the world and adapts them to local / seasonal produce. 

Adam was born in Melbourne and raised in Chicago, Beijing, Moscow, Adelaide, Paris. He now lives and works in nipaluna, lutruwita (Hobart, Tasmania). Adam’s time in Tasmania began as the owner/operator of Hobart’s tricycle café which became an institution for simple, local and seasonal fare and was where his journey into fermented foods began. While still at tricycle, hobby turned to obsession and he set up his fermentary and pop up business Rough Rice, to delve deeper into his research and experiments. A ‘family’ of locally made ceramic crocks were commissioned and his house in Hobart became Rough Rice HQ soon thereafter.

 He is a Churchill Fellow (2017) using his time internationally to pursue his studies in age-old (and new) preservation techniques with his ‘world fermentation tour’ taking him to; Japan, China, Korea, Italy, France, Georgia and Denmark. He has since written articles for and been featured in; Gourmet Traveller, The Age, Tart, Delicious, SBS, Frankie, The Smith Journal, The Australian, Gardening Australia, Gourmet Farmer and Japan’s Appetite Press. 

Adam’s main focus currently is developing a range of products for the outdoors that focus on flavour, nutrition and sustainability. His nutrient dense Shiitake Congee (think 2 minute noodles but delicious and healthy) has just taken off. Other products include; Vitality BrothAngasi Dashi, Fire Tiger, Wallaby Biltong, Rough Bites, Shiitake Crisps and Golden Roughs. 

Over the years he has collaborated with cooks, chefs and fermenters around the world including; Japan, France, England, Germany, US and Mexico as well as creating regular pop ups around Tasmania and wider Australia. These have all been one offs; fun, usually intimate food events that enabled Adam to work and create with likeminded people.      

For the past 8 years Adam has hosted fermentation masterclasses at The Agrarian Kitchen covering techniques such as koji, miso, shoyu, katsuobushi, kanzuri, vinegars, nukadoko/zuke, perennial pickle beds & traditional fermented pickles from around the world. His perennial pickle beds (some as old as 8 years) have since been documented in Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys (pages 51-53). 

He has an ongoing relationship with MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) and was responsible for the fermentation program for ‘Eat the Problem’ (cane toad garum anyone) and has developed food waste reduction strategies for their restaurants and festivals. He has also recently helped establish a fermentation and waste reduction program for Potatohead in Bali and is still shooting a feature length documentary with them (and the Prince of Ubud...)

In 2022 he was the ‘chef in residence’ at The Future Food System in Federation Square (Melbourne). Here he hosted a series of sold out dinners promoting sustainable eating and zero waste living as well as the ‘family meal’ series, a weekly Sunday lunch event celebrating food culture from around the world.  

Adam also still runs his Rough Rice stall at Hobart’s farmers market (fortnightly) – selling condiments, congee and ‘things on sticks’ served with his pickles, powders and potions.


photos by Adam Gibson