Browniegirl, Cooksister & the Giggling Gourmet
Under normal circumstances, if somebody came a-knocking at my door at 07h00 on the morning after I had landed in a foreign country, after 18 hours in transit across three continents and only 4 hours sleep, I would either refuse to open the door or open the door and take a swing at them with a frying pan.
But when the person in question is the very lovely Colleen (aka Browniegirl) coming to pick me up to take me to the first ever Cape Town Food Blogging Conference, it’s a whole different story Chatting excitedly in the car, it was hard to believe that we had never actually met in person before – we had spent so many hours, either on the phone or on the internet, since last November discussing the possibility of holding a food blogger conference in Cape Town – and this was the day that all Colleen’s hard work would come to fruition. To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement.
The venue was the Giggling Gourmet Cooks’ Playground in the new Cape Quarter development in downtown Cape Town. South Africans will be familiar with Jenny Morris (aka the Giggling Gourmet) but I had never heard her on the radio, only encountered her on the internet… which did nothing to prepare me for meeting the warm, funny, generous, naughty, gorgeous, giggling Jenny in person. She, her lovely husband and her staff went to great lengths to ensure that the day was a success and nothing was too much trouble. She also knows more naughty jokes than I do, which is no mean feat!
Before we knew it, it was 09h00 and the delegates started arriving. Some faces were old friends that I’d met before (Kit, Jane-Anne and Sophia), some were familiar from their blogs (Rosemary and Nina), others were new to me – but all of them were excited! After registration, some fortifying champagne & orange juice, and an introduction from the irrepressible Jenny, the conference was finally underway, and here are the presentations as I remember them:
- I spoke on finding your unique blogging voice(food blogging is like sex; admit you write for an audience; be yourself!).
- Nina of My Easy Cooking spoke on food styling and photography(natural light is king; know your camera; work those props, baby!)
- Jane-Anne of Scrumptious South Africa spoke on effective recipe writing (pay attention to recipe titles; what you write will outlive you on the internet; stool samples and recipes do not belong in the same post!)
Lunch was eagerly anticipated and we certainly weren’t disappointed. We started with beautiful platters of sushi from Saul’s (a Sea Point institution – oooh those salmon roses!) and then moved on to the Moroccan-inspired buffet that Jenny and her team had created. Sumptuous is not the word: a whole baked Norwegian salmon; pear and Brie tart; a Middle-Eastern chickpea salad; a delicious and unusual roasted butternut and pumpkin seed salad; a radish and parsley salad; a gorgeous roasted pepper tart; a couple of delicious foccaccias, a Morocccan couscous, harissa chicken – and that’s just a small sample! To finish, we had apple tarte tatin or cheesecake, and a delicious cheeseboard from Simonsberg, all washed down with wines from Arniston Bay. Jenny also took the opportunity to tell us some of her naughty jokes and hand out some generous prizes from our super sponsors.
Then it was back to the presentations with the following:
- I spoke about tips on being a better blogger(pick your platform carefully; set a manageable posting schedule; remember that you’re meant to be having FUN!)
- Nina spoke on monetising your blog(raise your Google profile so people can find you; sell e-books; sell advertising space)
- Sam of Food24 spoke on social media(network network network; link your blog to Twitter and Facebook)
- And finally I spoke on copyright and ethical issues in food blogging (respect other people’s copyright; protect your own copyright; disclose freebies)
The day ended on a high with the arrival of the pastry chef from The Roundhouse restaurant who had a “croquembouche” made of macarons and nougat for one lucky winner, and with the handing out of very generous goodie bags to all the rest of the delegates. I think it’s safe to say that nobody went home empty-handed, or short of new foodie friends!
It was an honour to be part of this historic conference – so often South Africans assume that things like this are only available overseas. There is a lot of moaning about “we never get any good stuff in this country” and that’s the end of it. But Colleen was willing to take a chance and all I kept saying was “if you hold it, they will come!” (apologies to The Voice in Field of Dreams!). I figured we had speakers on a par with those at the London at Food Blogger Connect conference where I spoke last year and, if anything, South African sponsors were even more generous! So in a nutshell… YES WE CAN! Three cheers for Browniegirl and South African food bloggers and see you all in 2011!
If you missed me in Cape Town, I will be speaking at Food Blogger Connect 2010 in London on 4-6 June this year – register now while you still can!