Ten people making Orlando a better place to be 

People we love 2018

Page 4 of 10

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett

Ricky Ly

Blogger, engineer, political activist

Almost 10 years ago, Ricky Ly took the first steps toward documenting what we all know now to be true: Orlando isn't just the City Beautiful, it's the City Delicious.

Since he launched his passion project, the Tasty Chomps food blog, Central Florida's food scene has exploded in creativity and volume, becoming almost unrecognizable to that city of a decade ago. But Tasty Chomps is still what it always was – a homegrown, down-to-earth, good-natured record of restaurants and dining events around town. And Ly has changed plenty too, going from an unknown among local bloggers to one of the biggest voices on the scene, but he, also, is what he always was – a believer in the American Dream.

Ly's parents were Vietnamese boat refugees, "riding out storms in fishing boats not knowing if they would survive, yet giving up their entire life and family and friends to be here in America, to hope against all odds." So in all he does, Ly has one firm belief: "To whom much is given, much is required." And while Tasty Chomps could be considered a form of public service, Ly's idea of giving back goes well beyond restaurant recommendations.

"It's when no one pays attention that bad decisions are made," Ly says, and his résumé of activities (beyond his day-to-day job as a civil engineer) shows that he's paying attention. During his time on the city's Families, Parks and Recreation Board, Ly was devastated by the murder of Gino Nicolas, a Parramore native and FSU grad who worked with the city in a mentoring organization. Ly and the rest of the board drafted a letter to City Council proposing extra funding so community centers could stay open later on weekends, providing a safe space for kids to be. "I think it was one of my proudest achievements on the board, coming up with the idea and seeing it happen, and hopefully making an impact," Ly says.

Ly also serves on the board of the Asian American Federation of Florida. "Asian-Americans are the least likely to vote of any ethnic group in America, but mostly because they are not registered to vote. Once they are registered, the parity gap closes," Ly says. "I believe as Bernie [Sanders] does that when people get involved with our local politics, we can make our community and nation a much better place. It's a sad state of affairs when about 50 percent of the registered electorate this past election cycle just sat out and did not vote at all." Ly attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention as one of the Florida delegates for Bernie Sanders and served as one of the Florida whips. "To paraphrase someone, 'Nothing will change unless we do,'" he says.

Since the birth of his daughter almost a year ago, Ly says, he's had to cut down on some of his activities, though he's committed to finishing up his master's in environmental engineering. But one recent addition to his plate is one that combines his twin passions for food and participatory democracy: Ly was just elected to the board of directors at Second Harvest Food Bank, which works to end hunger in Central Florida.

"I believe in the American dream, but it is a dream we have to continue to build," Ly says. "[We have to] build new dreams of what America can be."

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