Food Blogger Connect 2009

FoodBloggerConnect 2009

Remember high school exams?  The hard work, the anxiety about failure, the vaguely hysterical laughter every time you called a friend to ask how their studying was going, and the euphoria of opening the paper and realising that you had condentrated on the right bits?  And of course the anticlimax when you woke up the following day?

That’s a bit how I felt on Sunday.  After weeks of e-mailing back and forth, planning my presentation, promotion and a final frantic attempt to secure a table for a dozen people in central London on a Saturday night at little more than 24 hours notice, it’s all over.  The first Food Blogger Connect conference took place yesterday in London and from the feedback I’ve seen and heard so far, it was a roaring success.  Phew!!

Food Blogger Connect is the brainchild of fabulous fellow-food bloggers Bethany of Dirty Kitchen Secrets; Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry; Mowie of Mowielicious; and Jamie of Life’s a Feast, who decided it was high time that UK food bloggers had a chance to get together and discuss this crazy thing we do alone at home in our kitchens and in front of our computers.

From far and wide the food bloggers came… gorgeous Deeba from India, my secret sister Meeta from Germany (as well as Alessio), my co-speaker Jamie from France (as well as Pamela and Claire), Zo from the Netherlands, Kerrin from Switzerland, Aoife from Ireland and a host of super-talented bloggers from the UK (Nic, Sunita, Michelle, Solange, Davina, Kavey, Christina, and Sarah to mention but a few).  The venue for this historic event was Levant, a Lebanese restaurant a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, which provided a cosy alternative to the miserable, wet weather outside!

Jamie and I arrived early in order to run through our talk on writing style and voice and soon we were joined by the charming Kang of LondonEater.  Dynamo organiser Bethany was dashing about with cameraman hubby Chris, putting the finishing touches to our goodie bags – it was like being backstage in the hour before the curtain rises!  By lunchtime the other bloggers started to trickle in and we all mingled in the bar area, exchanging cards, putting faces to blog names and renewing old acquaintances.  I’m afraid I didn’t take a load of photos – I was just enjoying chatting to people too much! But here are a couple of shots of Bethany and Deeba (and the lovely lady next to Deeba who I spoke to but can’t recall her name now – aaarrrgh!  Somebody enlighten me, please??).


Then it was time for lunch, but not before the buffet had been subject to more photos than the Britney Spears falling out of a limo :)  The food was delicious – pillowy, warm flatbreads, crispy falafels, succulent meatballs, tomatoes topped with a grilled haloumi-type cheese, creamy aubergine dip, and a delicious red pepper dip.  And for dessert, I had some wonderful Turkish delight and a delicious syrupy square of flaky pastry – there were also some gorgeous cupcakes, but I called it a day and settled for the outstanding mint tea. Below you can see Kerrin and Deeba, and my only shot of the buffet table.


And then came the main event – the presentations.  After Beth had welcomed us all, I said a few words about the BloggerAid cookbook (please, please help us to promote it and raise money for the UN World Food Programme’s School Meals Programme!) before the scheduled presentations began.  Here is a brief summary of each presentation and the grain of wisdom that I took away from each:

  • Meeta spoke about photography and “guerilla shooting”, as well as lighting and use of props. Wisdom gained: Lowel Ego lights are the way forward if you have to shoot after dark!
  • Kang spoke about photography in the dark. Wisdom gained: The slowest shutter speed you can use without visible camera shake is roughly numerically equal to the focal length of the lens you are using – so with a 50mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you should use is 1/50sec.
  • Jamie and I spoke about writing style and finding your voice. Wisdom gained, by me, at any rate: no two people go about the craft of writing in exactly the same way.
  • I spoke about copyright – and hope that somebody managed to extract some wisdom from my rapid gallop through copyright law!! Apologies that we ran out of time for Q&A – if you were left with any questions about copyright, please feel free to leave a coment or e-mail me and I will do my best to answer you!
  • Kang spoke about social media and how to use it to enhance your blogging experience. Wisdom gained: we’re all just small fish in a big fish tank :)

And then it was all over – we had reached and breached our allotted time at Levant and we barely had time to collect our goodie bags before being gently ushered out by the staff.  For me, the entire afternoon had passed in a blur.  I was on such a buzz from my & Jamie’s successful presentation and the great company, I even forgot to claim my free glass of wine!  I had talked (and talked and talked!), cemented old friendships, networked, and delighted in new friendships – to ask for more from a rainy Saturday afternoon would be greedy.  Roll on Food Bloggers Connect 2010!


That evening, I enjoyed a delightful meal in the company of my fellow-speakers, organisers and various wonderful bloggers, but more of that in a following post.  And by the next morning, like for Cinderella, it felt a bit like it had all been a happy dream.  The only sign that this wonderful event had actually happened was the bag of gifts that I’d brought home (thanks Deeba, Meeta, Sunita and Jamie!!), and the goodie bag containing Unearthed olives with manchego and chillies; Unearthed choc chip mini-pannetone; Linwoods hemp seeds; Keen’s organic extra mature cheddar; and boxes of Maldon sea salt, smoked salt and salt with pepper.  So all that remained was for Cinderella to have her (absolutely delicious!) pannetone for breakfast, and dream of FBC10.

Here are some other bloggers’ prespectives on the day from Kang (London Eater),  Sarah (Food for Think), Paul (Get me Cooking), Aiofe (The Daily Spud),  Davina (The Sugar Bar),  Sarah (Meals with Sarah), Sarah (Maison Cupcake),George (Culinary Travels of a Kitchen Goddess), Oz (The Kitchen Butterfly); Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets); Jamie (Life’s a Feast); Mowie (Mowielicious); Nora (Nora the Kitchen ‘Splorer); Hilda (Saffron & Blueberry); Nic (Cherrapeno); Sarka (Cooking Your Dream); Deeba (Passionate About Baking); Meeta (What’s for Lunch, Honey? ); Sunita (Sunita’s World); Pam (The Cooking Ninja); Solange (Pebble Soup); and Alessio (Recipe Taster).



Tentative dates for FBC10 are 5 & 6 June 2010!  Head on over to Bethany’s blog and leave a comment to register your interest!


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  1. says

    Brilliant, entertaining write up and I hope that mine will be half as well written! It was truly a magical weekend and FBC was brilliant! I learned so much from ALL of the speakers as well as info and tips gleaned from other bloggers. It all changed my life, mostly just the tight bond I felt and formed between all of you once we met in “real life” and had a chance to talk. It was a great time with amazing, great people! Beautiful pictures you have of both Deeba and Beth not to mention your pannetone! Till I’m next in London, a big hug and thanks so much for your wonderful, clever organization of our talk. I really couldn’t have done it without you.

  2. says

    Hi Jeanne – It did feel abit like a happy dream in the end :) Was so lovely to have met you and I’ve now learnt a thing or two about copyrights, as well as finding the right blogging shoes. I look forward to our eventual meet ups in the future.

  3. says

    dear Jeanne, I absolutely enjoyed your presentation with jamie and got loads of great tips from both of you. FBC 09 was so good :) glad to have finally met you and your sense of humour is wicked! thanks for organising the dinner reservation too, weren’t you glad we didn’t stand you up? jokes.
    hope you got home ok. and looking forward to FBC10 already.
    p/.s just had that pannetone for breakfast. yum yum. x

  4. says

    Lovely to meet you Jeanne and introduce you to my vowel-laden name 😀
    I found that the day was a bit of a blur too – a most enjoyable blur, though – and I smiled and nodded and sometimes just laughed out loud through your presentation. Loved it and I couldn’t agree more with your call to roll on FBC 2010!

  5. says

    Hi Jeanne, thank you for commenting on my blog. Your photos are wonderful. Great post about FBC. Your way of telling stories and speaking (I’m talking about your talk at FBC) is so entertaining, I’ve enjoyed it so much! :) I learnt a lot from your talk on writing and copyright. It was a brilliant weekend with wonderful and lovely people, It felt like a dream.

  6. says

    @Courtney – I will absolutely insist that you do!! And you know who you’ll be staying with :) BTW on Sat I met Alessio who passed on the meme to you that you passed on to me – six degrees of separation becomes two!
    @Nina – you, me and Browniegirl need to talk – very very doable in Cape Town!!
    @George – so glad you enjoyed it and So sorry it was such a rush :( At least I am glad I gave you a handout because otherwise nobody would have remembered anything 😉 Feel free to e-mail me with questions…
    @Jamie – I still can’t believe how we just clicked! It felt as if we’d been chatting for years – and I certainly hope we get the chance again soon. I loved sharing the stage with you and chatting over dinner on Saturday – can’t believe that the one restaurant you singled out in Rome was Piperno, where I’ve been on my one visit to Rome! And remember – our house is right by City airport, so no question about who you will stay with next time (sorry Mowie – my turn!!)
    @Kang – A dream indeed – and I didn’t even have my glass of wine! Definitely keen to meet up in the new year :)
    @Diva – there’s nothing that I like more than when people get my sense of humour! Thank you :) Was great to meet you to – and so funny listening to you and Deeba at dinner. I’m sure you were related in a previous life… And yes! I’m definitley going to seek out that pannetone – it was divine and usually I don’t even LIKE pannetone!
    @Aiofe – always good to meet people more vowel-endowed than myself 😉 Lovely to have met you and so glad that you found the presentations useful – I would love to do it all over again!
    @Sarka – so glad to hear your feedback about the FBC presentation! I had a ball speaking but you never know if your audience is having as much fun as you are :) Likewise – your photos rock and I’m definitely going to be a regular visitor.
    @Barbara – oooh, spooky, we must have felt a ripple in the Force :) Next time, you’ll have to plan a grand European tour and come to FBC10!

  7. says

    Jeanne…with love. You make me laugh. Now my days are punctuated with talk of knitting and cat blogs…and laughter. I feel BLESSED (and now, I’m SHOUTING), to have met the group I did. So special….such a confirmation that the paths we tread, though varied and checkered are paths of greatness…if only because we’ve found fulfillment. With LOVE, lots of it

  8. says

    Oh wow Jeanne, love the pictures, the first one is brilliant! Absolutely loved your 3 talks (!), especially the one about copyright – fascinating. So glad you had such a great time. Don’t worry, I’ve been hard at work with Beth all day today organizing FBC’10. We learned so much from this one, and next year it’s going to be even better! Lots of love xxx

  9. says

    Dear Jeanne, it’s been a real pleasure to have met you; and your talk was wonderful. You’ve got such a great sense of humour.Glad we got together for dinner as well. If only I could have talked more with you; ah well,next time :-)

  10. says

    Sorry to have missed the event and being in London too early. But at least I’ve been to Levant (in April 2007, I believe), so I’ve kind of been there :)

  11. says

    Jeanne–lovely photos, thanks. I especially like the photo of the floating candles. I’ll take your advice to get involved with the food blogging community. I have signed up for Daring Cooks, for example. :)

  12. says

    Hi Jeanne, great round up and I am so impressed with the amount of light you have sucked into that picture of the buffet table – it was pitch black when I was standing there, did you winch in a spotlight when noone was looking?! I enjoyed your talk with Jamie, it was like watching a game of tennis batting backwards and forwards.
    Thanks very much for visiting my blog earlier and putting link here. Would love to meet up and have longer to chat. I’m only 20 mins drive from your neck of the woods!

  13. says

    brilliant jeanne my secret sistah! the weekend was a dream and i loved and cherished every minute of it. i am so glad to have found you and look forward to many more visits between london and weimar! hugs!

  14. says

    Hi Jeanne! Dammit it was great wasn’t it?! Reading this post was like being back in London for a few minutes :-)
    Ok great, falafel craving hitting now. Better do something about lunch…

  15. says

    Was lovely to meet you at the FBC event, wish I’d been able to connect to more people. I wasn’t feeling at my best, having had a headache all day, but also ran out of time!!!
    I enjoyed all of the presentations, but a number of the points you made in particular, in the talk you and Jamie gave, really resonated for me. Thought-provoking. And you made me laugh a lot too, always a good thing in a long presentation!
    Thanks again,

  16. says

    Lovely post Jeanne, and it was wonderful to meet you in person. Your photos of the event are great, and your talk was very interesting! Hope to see you at FBC10.