Food Blogger Connect 2010 (Photo: Mowie)
Q: What’s even more fun that cooking, eating, photographing, talking about and writing about food?
A: Cooking, eating, photographing, talking about and writing about food with other bloggers!
And it seems I am not the only food blogger who feels this way, judging by the turnout at the much-anticipated Food Blogger Connect conference which took place in London on 4, 5 and 6 June. Food Blogger Connect 2009 had been a roaring success – could we possibly repeat the success and the elation? Or would it be like going back to a place you remember fondly from your childhood and finding that you can’t recreate the magic? I was excited and nervous in equal measures as we arrived.
Food bloggers came from as far as Montreal, Finland and Zurich to be part of the fun, and they were not disappointed! The Hempel Hotel provided a great indoor/outdoor venue for presentations, complete with two elephants from the London Elephant Parade (the strawberry ellie in the lobby and the chestnut ellie in the wonderful Zen garden with its impressively green but weirdly warm astroturf grass). Even the weather played along and we were able to make use of the outdoor areas, unlike the torrential rain at FBC 2009!
Zen garden at the Hempel hotel
Events kicked off on Friday afternoon with a wine-tasting led by Laura of Red, White or Pink. This was a great way to ease into the conference and mingle while nibbling on delicious canapés, including mini pastry cases filled with vegetables and Parmesan, or shredded duck; and my personal favourite: the smoked salmon mousse cones.
This was followed by a very engaging & energetic presentation from Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen on monetizing your blog which gave me quite a bit of food for thought – and made me wonder whether anybody who is not American can ever aspire to the levels of self-belief needed to get where Jaden is :o) Back on the terrace, dinner was served in the form of a series of small bowls (none of which I photographed – mea culpa – but which included a Waldorf salad, delicious fish and chips with mushy peas; and a lamb stew with artichokes on truffley mashed potatoes) and then of course MINGLING!
Meeta and me
Kerrin and Chris
Saturday morning was a really early morning for me and my fellow Spice Girls Meeta, Jamie and Kerrin (not helped by the fact that we were all sharing the single bathroom at CookSister HQ!) but we made it on time to kick off proceedings with my talk on effective recipe writing and editing, and a talk on copyright issues in food blogging. (If anybody still does not have the handout or has questions, please do feel free to ask me. I’d also love to hear any feedback you had!). After Hilda demystified our SLR cameras for us (having stepped in at short notice to replace Kang), I was back behind the mike with my fabulous co-presenters Kerrin and Jamie to talk about writing style and voice in our three very distinctive presenting voices! I hope everyone took something away from this talk, other than the fact that I seem unable to speak without bringing fluffy kittens into it 😉 The most interesting that I learnt, thanks to Nando, was that the fastest way to silence a room full of bloggers with a single sentence is to ask: “So what are your stats?”. :o)
Me, Jamie and Kerrin (Photo: Mowie)
Meeta & Mowie do their thing
Jamie and Hilda talk cameras
After a buffet lunch (featuring salads, fish an excellent duck breast with cherries), and a little light mingling, it was time for Mowie and Meeta to do their double act on food styling and photography. Last year, Meeta’s presentation caused me to buy a Lowel Ego light – who knows what photographic progress this year’s presentation will yield?! After a brief diversion provided by Julia (Always Leave Room for Dessert) and her incredible stash of Bernard Callebaut chocolates, we moved back outside for tea, cake (much of it courtesy of Sarah from Food For Think – thanks Sarah!) and the photography practical, which saw people kneeling below towers of sliced watermelon to get the perfect shot and trying to find a new angle with coffee cups. Observers would say we are mad – but at least we know we’re happy!
Sunday morning we returned, bright and early, for the last day of the conference. We kicked off on the terrace with a really informative and enjoyable presentation from Kerrin and Julia about getting published. Julia focused on getting a book deal, while Kerrin specialised in freelance magazine work and a little stair dancing ;-). Niall Harbison had been due to attend but owing to the usual service levels from Ryanair, he had not made it to London and joined us via Skype. Other than a) rather a lot of irrelevant talking about the rich people he’d worked for and b) a fantastically ill-judged analogy about using sniper rifle instead of machine gun methods to market your blog, his talk was full of excellent advice on promoting your blog via social networking and left me with much to think about – primarily that I have to stop watching bad TV and go and blog instead!
Kerrin and Julia
Jamie and Sarah
Pam and Charlie
Mowie & Mayssam
Beth and Chris
Brunch (resplendent with bacon butties, perfectly poached eggs and a granola that was 80% caramel) was followed by more mingling and the inevitable FBC video interviews revealing all our dirtiest kitchen secrets :o)
Sarah and Bruce
Giulia and Pam
In summary, the event once again provided a range of really high quality presentations containing information that would have been so valuable to me had it been available when I started blogging (six long years ago!). I think that the food blogging community is so fortunate to have so many people within it who are passionate and willing to share their tips for success rather than guarding them closely.
But as with last year’s event, the best part was the connections made. It was lovely to see some old friends again (Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie, Mowie of Mowielicious, Sarah of Maison Cupcake, Aoife of The Daily Spud, Gemma of Dressing for Dinner, Catty of The Catty Life, Pam of The Cooking Ninja, Sarka from Cooking Your Dream and Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets) and to meet some brand new ones (Giulia of Juls’ Kitchen; Elisa of Aussie Foodie, Katharine of Girl in Madrid, Charlie of Eggs on the Roof, Anne of Anne’s Kitchen, Kevin of One Week Wine Tour, Valentina of Cupcakes do Trem Bom, Andrew, Zoe from Paris and my neighbour for the presentations Karin of Yum and More – the latter three are not blogging yet but we will persuade them!) Great to meet you all and I look forward to getting to know you through your blogs 🙂
And then of course there were my darling Spice Girls – Sporty, Snarky, Zesty, Saucy and me (Sweary). It is as if I have gained four sisters since I met this lot and our incredible 4-night FBC slumber party will be the subject of another post soon. But for now can I just say what an honour it was to share the same podium as these talented, quirky, eloquent funny people. This is one connection that I hope lasts forever. Thanks to Beth and the organising committee (Mowie, Hilda, Meeta, Jamie and Sarka) and Roll on Food Blogger Connect 2011!
The Spice Girls – Sweary, Saucy, Zesty, Sporty and Snarky (Photo: Mowie)
For those of you who, like me, are struggling to go “cold turkey” after all the excitement of the FBC weekend, here are some resources you might like:
- the FBC10 Flickr group (and some additional photos in my FBC10 Flickr album, where you can download the high res photos)
- the FBC10 video trailer now up on the official site
- the FBC10 Twitter tag (including live tweets on the day of all the presentations – except our writing style and voice one. Boo hoo!)
- a fun video clip summarising the day’s proceedings
Here is what other bloggers had to say about FBC10:
– Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets
And last but not least, here is the master list of all the bloggers who attended. Prepare to see your blogrolls grow – there is some great stuff in there!