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Three innovators in food and dining making a difference in Rhode Island

Food entrepreneurs in Rhode Island are rethinking how the dining scene nourishes us

Food scientist Caitlin Jamison analyzes tomato infused pasta dough with chef Jamie Freda.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

This story first appeared in Globe Rhode Island’s Food & Dining newsletter, a free weekly email about Rhode Island’s restaurant industry that also contains information about local events, Q&As with chefs, dining guides, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail each Thursday, you can sign up here.

Rhode Island is turning into a foodie destination, and not just because of its fine-dining establishments and 400 miles of coastline that provides some of the best seafood in New England. It’s because these chefs, bartenders, and entrepreneurs are innovating and changing the way people think about their food, the drinks they sip, and the way the entire industry operates.


Here are some of the innovators in the food and dining space that I’ve featured recently in my Ocean State Innovators column, a weekly Q&A with changemakers in various industries.

Chef Jamie Freda works on fresh pasta dough that is gluten free and vegan in her lab facility. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

1. From her Nonna’s kitchen in Italy to Project Pasta in Rhode Island

Growing up, chef Jamie Freda would spend her summers in Puglia, Italy, alongside her Nonna Domenica. There, she said, pasta is made by hand daily in the narrow streets of old towns.

She took her love of cooking from her Nonna’s kitchen to culinary school. But while busy hand-rolling dough, she realized that many could never enjoy her pasta because of gluten and egg allergies. She couldn’t find any alternative that felt authentic enough, or healthy enough. So she found her own solution and founded Project Pasta.

”I reflected on the alchemy that preserved my Nonna’s longevity,” she said of her grandmother, who lived until the age of 103. “Nutrient-dense soil, organic food, sustainability, tradition and then began to experiment with unconventional ingredients to reinvent pasta, recreate tradition and make pasta accessible to everyone.” Read the Q&A here.

Sarah Gwizdowski, a longtime Providence bartender, founded Rhode Island Cruisin' Cocktails, where she serves craft cocktails out of two retro 1961 Shasta trailers. Rhode Island Cruisin' Cocktails

2. Longtime mixologist started her own bar-on-the-go, slinging craft cocktails out of two retro trailers


Sarah Gwizdowski has long slung cocktails at some of Providence’s most popular bars, like the Hot Club and the East End. But in 2019, she decided to take her talents on the road, got ahold of two retro, 1961 Shasta trailers that she calls “Marigold” and “Rosie,” and founded Rhode Island Cruisin’ Cocktails. From weddings, holiday markets, and corporate parties, Gwizdowski travels to you for all of your cocktail needs. Read the Q&A here.

Saron Mechale is the founder of goTeff.Norbesida Bagabila

3. Food that fuels Ethiopian racing legends

Saron Mechale, a recent Brown University graduate, launched goTeff, a cereal and granola company using a staple food of Ethiopian long-distance runners. ”Abebe Bikila is the historical figure who ran barefoot in the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics and won — the first time a Black African ever won an Olympic gold medal,” Mechale said.

“Since then, Ethiopian athletes have just been dominating in long-distance races. Teff is the staple diet of these amazing runners.” Read the Q&A here.

If you have suggestions or need a recommendation, shoot me an email at

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Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.