Akron-born Fawesome Foods makes freakin’ awesome vegan jerky

words by Noor Hindi, photos by Ilenia Pezzaniti

Trying to get everyone to go vegan might be impossible, but David Dellosa and Scott Kessler are about to make it a little easier.

The two entrepreneurs recently launched Fawesome Foods, a company committed to helping people transition to a more plant-based diet. They’ve introduced their first food item: vegan jerky. And guess what? It’s good.

Coming in two flavors — black pepper lime and toasted sesame pineapple — the snack is vegan, non-GMO, gluten free and made entirely out of organic ingredients.

Oh, and did I mention it’s good?

David and Scott started working on the jerky two years ago. David, a vegan, and Scott, a vegetarian, and were looking for a jerky snack. That’s when David started experimenting with different ingredients in Scott’s kitchen.

“I was just playing with the ingredients and recipes and marinades,” says David. “It’s all about getting people to wean off their crutch of eating meat and show them that there are better possibilities of getting the same flavor, texture and consistency.”

David and Scott’s professional relationship started when David took a marketing class with Scott at the University of Akron, where Scott is a lecturer. The two have known each other for about seven years. They are both Akronites and have launched the business while balancing full time jobs, and in David’s case, a family with two kids.

“You have to change hats quickly during the day. You have to make that time at night. That time where you relax, read a book, watch a show, you end up working. We spend a lot of nights and weekends preparing and researching,” says Scott.

The two are excited about providing the community with more vegan snacks amid a national push for food options that are friendlier to the environment and animals.

David became a vegan after watching documentaries on Netflix such as Food, Inc. and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Scott became a vegetarian because of health issues, but still eats cheese. They’ve both adhered to those diets for more than three years.

The transition to becoming entrepreneurs felt natural, they say.

“My day-to-day has to have meaning. It has to have more meaning than just bringing home a paycheck. Obviously, that checks a lot of boxes for a growing family, but at the end of the day I need to feel like I did something positive for the planet and for our well-being. That’s what drives me,” says David.

Still, Scott says there have been some challenges with getting familiar with the food industry.

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” says Scott.

Right now, Fawesome Foods is operating in Cleveland through the Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen (CCLK), which provides a fully equipped kitchen for local food entrepreneurs to rent. The CCLK also offers mentorship and networking opportunities.

A similar kitchen is set to launch in late spring or early summer in Akron at The Well Community Development Corp. Once that facility, Akron Food Works, opens, David and Scott are hoping to move into it.

Akron Food Works will offer an opportunity for food entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and get professional help in navigating food regulations, marketing and growth.

Curtis Minter, Operations Director at The Well, says the kitchen is 1,000 square feet, with an additional 1,300 square feet available for storage.

Akron Food Works will be the first facility of its kind in the city.

“This has been on the table for a long time now. We were able to draw on our resources and make it happen,” says Curtis.

Until then, David and Scott are excited to keep working on Fawesome Foods and sharing their vision with the community.

“I honestly feel like we have an opportunity to help change the world,” David says.

This story is part of The Devil Strip’s Akropreneurs series, which is made possible by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Fund for Our Economic Future. 

Noor Hindi is The Devil Strip’s Senior Reporter. Contact: Noor@thedevilstrip.com.