Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature John Haddad.  Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos  and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

John, please provide us a short bio.

I am a Brand Manager with Weston, under the Hamilton Beach umbrella. Weston makes products that empower people to reconnect with their food. Our mission is to fuel a movement of hunters, gatherers, and locavores with the enduring, well-built products needed for a self-sustaining approach to food.With over 20 years of marketing, account management and advertising experience, I have worked on both the agency and client side in a wide variety of capacities and industries.  I have also written about food and art for over a decade, including a six-year stint as a restaurant critic for Style Weekly.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I have been involved with Slow Food since 2009 when I founded the local Slow Food RVA chapter.  I am Governor for the state of Virginia and sit on the National Policy Council.  Slow Food fights for good, clean and fair food for all. The word “good” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For Slow Food, the idea of “good” means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build community and celebrate culture and regional diversity. When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity. We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.  

I am also an emeritius board member for 1708 Gallery in Richmond where I served on the board for eight years, including one year as president.  

What are the things you are most proud of?

My two sons, Raine (14) and Rye (13), who bring me joy every day. I am also proud of the work I’ve done with Slow Food, educating the community about the importance of Good, Clean, and Fair food for all.  And with 1708, bringing an incredibly vibrant body of artwork to Richmond.

Who are your personal role models?

Carlo Petrini for the work he’s done with Slow Food. Anthony Bourdain for his ability to connect with people and share their foodways and culture. Alice Waters for bringing gardens to schools. Locally John Siddall and Karen Grimm taught me the basics of branding and the power of creating art that inspires action.

Did these role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Listen to people’s stories and help tell them to the world.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Find something that fuels your passion. While my paid gigs haven’t always been the most exciting or rewarding, the work I have done in the community has meant so much to me.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

It’s all over the place. From Classical to Jazz  and Bluegrass to Rock. From Wilco and Neutral Milk Hotel to the Punch Brothers, Courtney Barnett and Lucy Dacus.  I’m also a bit traditional and still enjoy vinyl and CDs.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

As a longtime food writer, it’s an impossible question to answer. I’ve had the pleasure of so many great meals. Right now, Longoven is bringing food and a dining experience on a level that I’d say Richmond hasn’t seen before in its sophistication of preparation, plating, service and flavors. I’m also a longtime fan of Acacia, Mamma Zu, Kuba Kuba, and Lehja.

Is there anything else we should know about you?

While studying abroad and then working in Italy in the late 80’s, I was exposed to the Slow Food mantra of good, clean and fair food.  It was there that I saw and participated in the beginnings of a movement against fast food and helping connect people to the pleasures of real food. It was there that I became passionate about food that comes from the field to the table without being processed, food that is grown largely without chemicals, and food that supports and nourishes the families and communities that grow it. It is food with a sense of place and food with a story. It is food that your grandparents would recognize as such and food that fills our lives with memories.


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