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!