FB Fest Events and Dinner

Over 200 bloggers from across the country (and some foreign countries) showed up for a three day event. And the beautiful part? If you are a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher, it was all free!

Since I am close enough, I opted to join in on Saturday, thereby missing the Friday opening events. Apparently I missed some great food. Friday night had a special Streetcart feast held at the Ferry Building. We aren't talking about roach coaches. We are talking about higher quality street vendors with specialties such as pasties, barbecue, etc. Based on what I heard, I dare not miss opening festivities when I go next year.

Saturday had a small breakfast of pastries and coffee at the Ferry Building again. The place was bustling because it was an absolutely picture perfect warm day for S.F. Truly lucky for the out-of-town visitors. We have a fantastic farmers market in Sacramento, but the one there is pretty outrageous. Below are some shots I took from my wandering around the market.

The morning included seminars on olive oil tasting, cheese tasting, and the topic of Farm to Table. I would have loved to get in on the tastings, but I got word too late and those were full. But I was pleasantly surprised by the discussion at Farm to Table. It was led by the chef from Americano at Hotel Vitale (host site) and from the general manager of Hearst Ranch of the Hearst publishing empire. They raise grass fed cattle on the San Simeon property around Hearst castle. His beef is more expensive but delicious because they are free range living a stress free life. He sells to some of the top California restaurants and online as well. Discussion was on what is involved in the background costs and all the middlemen in the food industry chain. What he and others would like to do is to go more directly from farm to table without all those middlemen. It adds cost and delays.

He also started to sell 'shares' of beef instead of the traditional method of ordering a case of steaks or 100 pounds of ground beef. Instead you get a 1/8, 1/4, or even 1/2 a steer which means a variety of cuts. The traditional method says that you buy steaks at, say, $12/lb and ground beef at $3/lb. But if you buy shares, you average out the cost so that you get a variety of steaks, cuts, and ground for an average cost of, say, $8/lb.

I asked the winning question of the session - what kind of discount are you offering us? He hadn't prepared any at that point but quickly offered 30% off and free shipping for anyone who uses the coupon code 'foodbuzz'. This offer is open to anyone, so look into it and share the offer with your friends.

For the afternoon we moved to the top floor of the Metreon for samplings from about 50 food vendors/providors. There were breweries, wineries, confectioners, etc. Most have partnerships with and support the Foodbuzz website. They understand the importance that bloggers now have in spreading the word as marketing for their products. We got a lot more freebies and tasted all sorts of items.

One table that I'd like to share was Foodzie.com. They serve as a 'grocery' site for independent producers. For instance, let's say you decided to start a gourmet pot pie site for selling your unique pot pies over the internet. You have your own website, but you need to reach out even more. You can join with foodzie and they will also market your pot pies for you, along with other folks' chocolates, jellies, cookies, etc. Definitely a great site to check out if you are looking for unique gifts to send to people.

The biggest sponsors of the festival were Nature's Pride breads and Bertolli. We, as bloggers, can sign up to be testers with Foodbuzz and so sometimes I get free things shipped to me. So far I've gotten Quaker oat bars and two loaves of NP's breads. They ask that if you like their product you spread the word. They also ask that food bloggers try to create recipes with their product. In the case of both Bertolli and NP, submitted entries were whittled down to finalists that we all voted on. Then they presented their recipes in demos. That is the picture above. LK, from Healthy Delicious, used a Bertolli sauce to make a cioppino.

I think this way of partnering with food bloggers works. Especially since I had heard bad things with the Blogher festival last month. Bertolli also sponsors that as well and got a lot of flack for serving packaged pasta and sauce to the Blogher food bloggers. Apparently there was kind of a "food bloggers expect fresh and better quality than packaged food!" But I think it was probably a case of how the arranged partnership worked with that group. Ours worked better because they challenged our bloggers to be creative with their product.

Saturday night was a great dinner held at the Greenleaf Produce warehouses in South San Francisco. At the end of the evening they announced the winners of the Food Blogger Awards that had all been nominated and voted upon by us, other food bloggers. Jen, the Leftover Queen, was the presenter. Dinner ran late, so they were read off rapidly.