11 Questions with Dana Marie Roquemore of The Dinner Party Project

You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is for. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. Let’s get started!

I can't remember how Dana and I first met but I'm sure it involved food in some capacity. Dana is head chief at The Dinner Party Project. TDPP puts eight strangers around a table and lets the fancy food, libations, and good conversation flow. My first experience at TDPP was a memorable one. I met some great people and have even worked with one of them on several photo projects. It didn't hurt that Chef Tony Adams was fixing the meal that night. One thing I love about Dana is she's a hustler. She's started several fun and interesting events in Orlando, all of which have added to the vibrancy of the city. I can't wait to see what's next for her.

Who do you look up to?

Anyone that has survived tragedy and still has a great outlook on life. Syrian Refugees, Holocaust survivors, women who have lost children at childbirth, etc. I love movies like Unbroken and Life is Beautiful, where these humans refuse to let horrific circumstances change their outlook on life. It makes my banal problems, like having too many emails to answer, pale in comparison. Perseverance is such an incredible human trait. I wish I had more of it.

Do you have a favorite book or album?

I am constantly reading. I wish there were more time in my life for reading. I would love to read two books at once, but I haven't been able to figure out how to do that just yet. I am currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. East of Eden is one of my favorite books of all time. The theme of redemption is something I always want to keep in the forefront of my mind. I am a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables. Her whimsy and ability to see & celebrate the Beauty of Life is so thrilling. I love a good spy novel or murder mystery or anything John Grisham. I am also a fan of Love Does and anything that Donald Miller writes. I also adore Shauna Neiquist's books about the connection we have to food and how sharing food around a table connects us as humans. Brené Brown brings it on the topics of shame and vulnerability. I could go on forever. This answer is way too long anyway.

Favorite place to eat in Orlando?

Not possible. I LOVE too many places around town. There is so much incredible food in Orlando. However, if you haven't had a Black Bean Arepa from Arepas & More off of Bumby, then you aren't really living.

Dana Roquemore The Dinner Party Project

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Good Lord, I would love to see a cross between an elephant and a butterfly. Little tini elephants flying around on delicate Butterfly wings. It would be an incredible paradox: Heavy & Light.

What gives you inspiration?

Kindness and Sacrifice. It's hard not to respond with a visceral reaction of how people treat you. I love when people respond in a different Spirit, looking beyond the emotion and choose kindness instead. Also selfless sacrifice always blows me away.

If you had a chance to live in a different decade, what decade would you choose?

The first thing that comes to mind is 0-10 years. I am so curious as to what life was like for Adam and Eve. They had no one else around.....and then they had their kids, but other than that the world was barren. I would love to be a fly on the wall for that time period. Like what do you talk about?

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What in your personal life has influenced you to choose your career?

People. Duh. I wanted to get to know them better. Plus I LOVE food. I really wish I could be a non technical food taster. I live for the magic that happens around the table.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

A day of rest every week. Honestly I get overwhelmed sometimes. If I don't take a real rest / break, I start to become a little unglued. I am a real fan of naps, Netflix, the ocean, and reading. I am totally boring in real life.

Is there anything you haven't done yet that you feel compelled to achieve in the future?

I'd love to be a mother. I think nothing can replace that kind of love for another human being.

What are your other interests?

I'd love to get into painting. That is one of my next outlets for myself. Also Estate Saleing. I have this obsession of looking through other people's homes and finding cool old things. Plus tennis. I am not that great, but I love to play and I love to watch.

What rejuvenates you?

Other than my day of rest each week, being around Beauty rejuvenates me. I LIVE to travel. Nothing is like wandering around another country w no agenda. I wish I would make more $$ and find the time to do it. There is so much incredible Beauty out there to be seen and experienced. Being surrounded by nature and feeling so small, in the scheme of things, is a really good feeling. I love the beauty of flowers, gorgeous clothing, laughter of children, road trips, really good hearted people, eating my heart out, and a solid cocktail. Oh, also a really good Dance Party!

 

On a separate note you won't be seeing any Americans featured on 11 Questions for a while. I'm currently based in Ethiopia and hope to continue it here. The questions may be a little different but hopefully it will be the same format.

Big thanks to Nicki Bulgewicz on makeup and Jasmine Lopez on hair.