There are a lot of "best-ofs" around Rhode Island, most of them dubious merit. ("And the award for Best Blueberry Vodka Cocktail Served on a Tuesday Night by a Bartender Named Stephanie goes to...”) But Jim Nellis, through his RI Food Fights events, wants to settle these arguments once and for all. “We’re just trying to have fun and figure out who really is the best in Rhode Island,” he says. Drawing competitors from all over the state, RI Food Fights have settled the score for things like cupcakes, cookies and ice cream. What really impresses us about Jim, however, is not just the events themselves, but his constant rah-rah-ing for any and everything he deems cool, fun or interesting in Rhode Island. “RI Food Fights began as an experiment to prove that social media could quickly, cheaply and relatively easily bring a large group of Rhode Island foodies together,” he explains. And it has. His tireless cheerleading on social media has not only brought sellout crowds to Food Fights in Wayland Square and Fête, but provided a boost for dozens of small, local food businesses, many of whom are just starting out. Furthermore, the West Side resident shines a light on neighborhood issues through his “West Side of Providence” Facebook page, and was instrumental in rallying neighbors to cluck! when the embattled urban farming supply store was trying to overcome old guard politics. He has similarly brought well-deserved attention to the Central Falls Chess Team as it tries to raise the money to attend a national tournament. Though the ladies on our cover might have the pom-poms, we think Jim Nellis is this year’s biggest cheerleader.
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