Name: David Dadekian, Founder & President, EatDrinkRI

Location: Providence, RI

What drives your passion for local food & drink? The 90’s were a particularly fertile time for green markets and more and more restaurants were serving local food. For example, I used to love eating at former Board Chair Peter Hoffman’s restaurant Savoy before I had any inkling that this was a movement. In 2001, a friend of mine recommended I read Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation,” and that was the beginning of my paying close attention to what I ate. When I moved to RI in 2003, I searched out sustainable and local food, and it was a challenge for a while, but eventually it became important to me to revolve my work around local food and drink so I created Eat Drink RI, and the rest as they say, is history.

What do you love about the Rhode Island local food community in particular? What’s not to love? The beauty of local RI food is it’s so easy to drive to anywhere in the state to taste something that was just harvested/slaughtered/fished/produced that day, and what’s so wonderful about our food community is that everyone here wants you to do just that. Everyone here loves to share and show others what a great bounty we have in Rhode Island.

What’s a future project you’re excited about? We are in the middle of Kickstarter campaign to develop Rhode Island’s first food hall, the West Park Food Hall. We have a building in Providence and need to fund pre-development before securing investors for the full project. I was inspired by two food halls I visited in Atlanta during the recent Summit, and I want that to happen here.

What did you learn about Growing Community and Owning the Future at Chefs Collaborative’s 8th Annual Summit this past September? I’ve been to all but one of the Summits and I can honestly say they’re always one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking things I do each year. I always come away from a Summit with a list of items that I want to try or talk about here in Rhode Island. The on-stage conversations this year about race were fascinating and helped broaden my perspectives. It’s great to meet so many new people and to reconnect in person with people that I’ve met in the past or interact with online throughout the year. I really can’t say enough good things about the Summit!