9.04.2010

IFBC - 2nd Annual International Food Blogger Conference - Part 1

This month marks the five year anniversary of my move to New York City. To celebrate, I returned from whence I came for a week's vacation: Seattle! I know that I put it on a pedestal, but Seattle really is a glorious place to live. It also just so happens that every time I go back for a visit, the sun comes out, the birds sing and Mt. Rainier shrugs off it's perpetual foggy blanket to make an appearance, as if just for me. True to form, the day after I left, the weather turned to overcast, cold and rainy. And back in Brooklyn, it was 97 and humid. Dang.

My trip was scheduled around the 2nd International Food Blogger Conference, but it was great for many reasons. I know that for the blog I should stick to the food parts, but I just want to say that other highlights included finally meeting my bff's boyfriend, seeing other friends just returned from a year of traveling thru India and southeast Asia, a new tattoo(!) for me, and seeing the miraculously recovered kitty, Minnie, who recently lost a leg after a vicious dog attack. (She's doing very well! Poor girl.) You can't really tell from the photo, but her right front leg was amputated six weeks ago.

Minnie_1036.jpg

Ok, on to the food blogger conference:

I'm still reeling from the weekend of fun at the IFBC. I went because I knew it would be a great networking and learning opportunity, but I also got a never-ending supply of amazing food, a chance to hear some really inspirational people speak on my favorite subjects: food, writing, photography, science and social equity, and a parade of friendly fellow bloggers. I should also say that it was a pretty mind-blowing example of social media frenzy, with everyone a-twitter, all the time. I occasionally had to close my laptop and focus on the speakers instead of reading all the tweets flying around like crazy.

Friday night's opening reception included an appearance by Morgan Spurlock, who spoke candidly about food politics and the power of bloggers to affect change, inspire and educate people. I spoke with him afterward and mentioned that I lived in Brooklyn, too, in an area between Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy, very near Bushwick, which I call Bedwickburg. He thought that was funny and came up with a new name for my neighborhood: Bedwick Point. He then proceeded to mercilessly mock my nearest subway line, the G Train. We talked about the lack of decent food available in poor urban areas (like my neighborhood) and he basically challenged me to do something about it. Hmm.... The Hot Dog Cookoff was pretty great, but I am inspired to do more... We'll see, Morgan. I'm on it!

Saturday started bright and early at the conference location at Theo Chocolate. They are the only organic and fair trade certified chocolate factory in the US. Check this place out if you find yourself in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle anytime soon. They have a retail store and offer tours of their factory including lots of great samples.

Saturday's sessions included Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy, Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write For Food, Kristine Kidd, a former food editor at Bon Appetit, Kathleen Flinn, author ofThe Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, folks from Foodista.com, UrbanSpoon.com, WordPress.com, a few specialty food producers and some nerdy lawyer types who spoke on Law & Ethics in food blogging. This included blogger and attorney Robin Goldstein, who gave a presentation entitled "Recent Advances in Bullshit Reduction." He was hilarious, and based on the tweets I caught during his panel, pretty much charmed the hell out of the lady bloggers in attendance. And maybe some of the men. Hidden behind a tweet, people can be very bold!

We cleared out of the room for cocktail hour - a fun pairing of four sherries with little appetizers, presented by The Secret Sherry Society. I thought it was fun. I talked with Robin a bit and he's super nerdy, smart, and funny in person, too. Pretty much adorable.

Then, I spotted my idol. James Oseland. Editor in chief of Saveur magazine. Why is he my idol? Well, mostly because he has risen to the top of his field in both writing and photography. I spoke with him and mentioned my blog and he said, "Oh, yeah, I know of it." I totally lost my cool. I really wanted to be casual and collected, but I sort of jumped up and down a little. I gushed for a few more minutes and then luckily the Foodista people walked up and I was able to make a polite exit. I'm sorry to James for cornering him and acting like a food groupie, but I guess I am.

At dinner, James was the keynote speaker. He lauded bloggers for their contribution to food media and gave a presentation about his experience in the food world, along with a slideshow of his photography. I was totally awed and inspired by his story and images. Already a fan, my admiration was reconfirmed after learning more about him and his work and hearing what he thought of the changing world of food writing.

And then there was dinner. I collected five plates of food and found a seat with the SoCal bloggers who were gracious enough to let me into their circle. I chatted with a writer from the LA Times and enjoyed the assortment of dishes, along with some wines from Rodney Strong. The California bloggers invited me on a field trip to find gelato, but my hometown crew was waiting for me to meet them and I felt torn between wanting to bond with my blogger friends and hang with my Seattle homies. I decided to call it a day and headed home to pet Minnie the tripod and have some wine around the table with my old pals while they had dinner.

Coming up: The final day of the food blogger conference - the gluten-free gang! food trucks! doughnuts! food photography! and more!

Two dishes from lunch:
Beef Tartare
Beef Tartare by chef Daisley Gordon of Campagne

Marinated Octopus with Chickpeas
Marinated Octopus with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon and Chorizo Vinaigrette by Chef Shannon Galusha of Bastille

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