I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle this last week. What a great weekend. The kind of weekend where it takes a week for the buzzy glow to fade from you. Since there were 249 others there also blogging about their weekend, I figured I would let them recap in their more elegant prose. But then I decided to just do a simple post for myself to remember the best bits.
Aggressive Tweeting - A roomful of bloggers with their laptops and pdas tweeting like crazy. An IFBC thread that created frustration when Twitter would freeze up with a notice that we had reached our rate limit. Realizing that tweeting in meetings/conferences is the new age version of passing notes in class. Feeling part of a collective mind via technology.
Penny De Los Santos, photographer for Saveur, said "be inspired" and, instead, inspired a room to "make pictures" instead of "take pictures". I already knew my photos were lacking and now am inspired to get a better camera (instead of my pocket one) and practice.
Morgan Spurlock challenging bloggers to reach beyond the internet to interact with their readers. That we need to have more back and forth discussion with our readers and to do or create events for them to be able to participate in. Feeling proud that I am already doing this with my crusade to bring food trucks to Sacramento. That by bringing attention to the issue, creating a movement, and hopefully bringing a food truck event to town next spring, I am engaging my community beyond them just reading this blog.
James Oseland, Saveur editor and Top Chef Masters judge, loves food bloggers. In fact, many times Saveur turns to bloggers in the cities/countries that they are visiting to get to the best food and food experiences to put in the magazine. That he recognizes the importance of bloggers in the ever changing world of food reporting.
Top Chef style eating. A food bloggers conference had better have the best food or it’s a joke. (I’ve heard other conferences have failed here.) We were blessed with Top Chef style eating - small plates served up by a selection of Seattle’s (and elsewhere’s) best chefs. It so reminded me of the TV show that I suggested that when TC some day does a competition from Seattle (like it surely will), the contestants must feed us at IFBC for one of their challenges. My two favorite food items both involved around lamb. We had lamb pops (really lamb chops eaten popsicle style) that was so tender and juicy that I had to go back for a total of three. Yum! Then the next night there were fabulous lamb meatballs that were also juicy and seasoned to perfection. Heaven! I was blown away by the gluten-free fare provided by Wheatless in Seattle. Chocolate cupcakes that weren’t all crumbly like other GF ones I’ve had elsewhere. And even though I don't drink, I know the others were happy with the generous amounts of wine, sherry, and beer.
Urbanspoon. I’m the #1 blogger in Sacramento for Urbanspoon and so it was great to meet the folks behind it. They are based in Seattle. I was able to share with them one-on-one suggestions on how to improve their support of their top reviewers.
Food truck lunch! On Friday had hoped to track down Seattle’s most famous food trucks but they weren’t working. I was so thrilled when they both showed up on Sunday right in front of our conference! Best of all, eight trucks were their exclusively to serve us lunch for free. And even though I had to pay for Maximus Minimus (they weren’t there for us, but for the regular Sunday market), my quest for some Seattle street food had been fulfilled and I didn’t even have to go anywhere.
Food bloggers are good people. The sense of community was fabulous. How can you not have fun when the topic is food? I made some fabulous new friends and great contacts. I met people from important sites such as Saveur, Urbanspoon, Allrecipes, About.com, and more.
The fact that I learned something (or rather, many things). This conference had sessions that were informative and helpful. Another conference I went to was just about schmoozing and food. Fun, yes. Helpful, not so much.
There are a lot of other little things as well: snaky comments (and noises), royal restrooms, lots of chocolate (we were in a chocolate factory after all), swag bags, etc. But no one thing matters compared to the conglomeration of the whole. IFBC has now become a must-do event.
I must end with a gigantic THANK YOU to Red Lobster. They paid for my conference fee and made it possible for me to go when I was financially strapped. I am ever grateful.
Until next year…