Back in May, I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, Washington. It was the first ever conference just for food bloggers, and was organized by the founders of Foodista, Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri Wetherell.
Foodista is described as “a collaborative project to build the world’s largest, highest quality cooking encyclopedia”. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s like “wikipedia for foodies”, and since I’m such a hard core “info junkie” AND food lover, Foodista is definitely one of my favorite online resources.
As a food writer working alone at home most days, Foodista is also an important part of my personal (although virtual) community. I get most of my Foodista updates via Twitter now, where I usually “retweet” and share (recipes or food stories) with my own Twitter followers. Learn more about Foodista (and Twitter) via links below.
When I first read about the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) on Foodista.com, the main thing that caught my eye, was the fact that Gourmet Magazine’s Ruth Reichl was the celebrity guest speaker. Like most food lovers, I’ve read all her books, and was eagerly awaiting (her then) soon-to-be released memoir “Not Becoming My Mother”.
Hmmm… a chance to meet Ruth in real life? Without looking like a stalker? The airfare and hotel costs would probably be worth it, just for this opportunity alone!
The book I was reading at the time was Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (she’s also the author of Orangette.com), so when I saw her name on the weekend roster as well, I thought, “that’s it… I have to attend IFBC!”
But here’s the thing… I HATE conferences. I make fun of conferences. I make fun of people that go to conferences. I especially hated when I was forced to go to them for work. The only thing I probably dislike more than a conference, is a committee. One of my favorite quotes being, “as useless as a committee”. I would think to myself, “why would I want to sit in a room full of women (or men) talking about one subject? Why not just google?”.
Okay, you get it… I’m just not a “conference” type of gal. Or at least I used to NOT be. Foodista’s IFBC changed it all for me. It wasn’t a stuffy, “all women only” (also not for me), large venue type of event. The organizers (Sheri and Barnaby) really put on a thoughtful, relaxing and FUN weekend in Seattle.
The actual conference was held at the beautiful “Sanctuary at Admiral”, a restored historical building (from 1929), located in West Seattle. It was two stellar days filled with food writers, photographers, technology pros and, of course, lots of FOOD (and wine!).
A few IFBC topics (that I was most excited about) were: “Food Porn – Food Photography & Styling”, “Blogging As A Career” and “Blog to Book – Getting Your Writing On Paper”. The latter in which Molly Wizenberg was on panel. She was so warm, informative and refreshingly humble. I was already a fan BEFORE meeting her, but I probably elevated myself to “Molly Groupie” afterwards.
One of the sessions that I thought would be boring, “Passionate Purveyors & Producers”, was far from it! I was especially captivated by Karl Kupers of Shepherd’s Grain, when he spoke about the “Find the Farmer” project. It’s a website that traces flour from farm to table. Cool, right?
The IFBC nights were fantastic as well. Friday evening’s welcome party was held in a funky, old building near Safeco Field, home to the Mariners. Lots of wine, food (oh, the fresh oysters!) and more wine!
On Saturday evening, it was all about Ruth Reichl. We all gathered at the Pan Pacific Hotel to hear the legendary writer read from her new book. It was just a wonderful, inspirational gathering, and the highlight of the weekend for me!
My good friend Afaf was my traveling companion for the trip, and we were both so happy to finally meet Charles Thompson, another L.A. based food blogger. It turns out that Charles knew my husband Peter from years back (they both work in movies), so the three of us (Afaf, myself and Charles) quickly bonded during the weekend in Seattle. We had two fabulous dinners out (that I’ll post soon), and we even squeezed in a sneaky, quick getaway to the Seattle Cheese Festival on Sunday morning.
There were so many nice folks at the conference (I can say that “c” word without grimacing now!), and it’s been fantastic keeping in touch with several on a regular basis. Here’s a shout out to a few of my daily Twitter pals that I met at IFBC: @Inuyaki, @PlumpestPeach and Washington’s own @PassionForEating … who just so happened to visit me for a wild night (with her family) in L.A. recently!
I know for sure I’ll be going to IFBC again, and hopefully we’ll have a large L.A. group attending the next one. It was a treat to get out of my “virtual” community (internet & twitter) and actually spend time with my fellow food lovers in person. It just took a special type of conference, like Foodista, to make me appreciate it!
As you can tell, Foodista isn’t just the “wikipedia of food” for me. They’ve also been a solid support for the growth of my blog. If you’re lucky enough to be named Foodista’s “Blog of the Day”, just sit back, smile and watch your page hits skyrocket!
A couple of week’s ago, Foodista co-founder Barnaby Dorfman emailed me and asked if I’d like to be photographed for the New York Times. The article would feature Foodista as well as other web-based recipe sites. Soon after, New York Times reporter Kim Severson called and she interviewed me via the phone. Two days after that, photographer Axel Koester was in my kitchen, taking countless pictures of me making bacon-wrapped breadsticks.
The article was published yesterday… online and in print, and my husband was so excited he got up early and bought twenty copies for family and friends. I’m framing a copy for the kitchen of course, and am just so grateful to Foodista for even thinking of me! For all your support, kindness, guidance and generosity… THANK YOU!
More Photos from IFBC:
A few of the many wonderful speakers at IFBC!
Top left: Kristy Melville, Molly Wizenberg, Jaden Hair
Top right: Molly Wizenberg, Jaden Hair
Bottom right: Rebekah Denn, Kathleen Flinn, Julie Brosterman
Bottom left: Kristy Melville, Molly Wizenberg