Normally my posts on here are recipes, but as I attended the Food Blogger Connect conference at the weekend I thought I'd do a little write up, mainly to help me retain some of the information (brain is sieve-like nowadays). As I said on here, I was very excited to be attending the 3 day conference, but when I actually got there, amongst the 100 or so other bloggers, I did find it all a bit overwhelming. I think my having been 'out of the scene' for quite a while, plus being away from my babies for 3 days, contributed to a general feeling of anxiety. This was a very inconvenient time to feel anxious, I can tell you! I have spoken to a few women who said they felt something similar when they returned to work - a sort of 'crisis of confidence'. I guess this was a bit like me returning to work. Blogging can be such a lonesome business, I think I just found the networking side of things a bit full on. It didn't help that I didn't have any business cards, and the card around my neck which was supposed to show my name and blog simply had a 'R' scratched onto it by me with a cheap biro (couldn't find the special pen to write on shiny card with). Ah well, if something is a bit challenging, normally it means it's doing you some good. And there were lots of bits I enjoyed: moments of warmth with other bloggers, powerful and inspiring insight offered by speakers, and great eating too...
Here are some of my highlights, with a few photos further down below:
There were a lot of wonderful talks. These were the speakers that I enjoyed most, with the quotes that inspired me (paraphrased).
David Lebovitz, blogger: "Don't be afraid to show your flaws in your blog" / "You should be terrified before you press Publish" during What makes a successful blog. Top guy. Spoke very emotionally, truly from the heart.
Niamh Shields, blogger: "Don't be too vanilla!" "Gain the respect of your peers" again, both were during What makes a successful blog. Gave several great, funny, honest talks. I now MUST go to Canada for a foodie holiday, thanks to her slide show (slide show makes it sound shit, it was actually very funny) on that subject. Initially she was nervous but actually I think that endeared her to everyone even more. Wish I'd spoke to her properly. Well, I did a bit: she gave me a nice pear vodka shot, and I said thanks!
Penny de los Santos, photographer: awesome, humbling pictures that inspired me to take more shots of people when I'm travelling. Also seemed like a really good person. Too shy to speak to her afterwards, which I now regret.
Kerstin Rogers, blogger: "Set up a food business, set up a blogging conference, JUST DO IT!" plus "Forget about advertising, just make your blog beautiful" She was inspiring and fun. Made everyone laugh and loosen up.
Denise Baker-Mclean, blogger and supper club host: "I did it to cheer myself up after being made redundant" on supper clubs. Great talk on what led to her hosting the first ever supper club in Wales. Honest, funny, and practical too.
Blurb.com, self-publishing tool: not so much what they said as the product they offer - excellent quality self-publishing. Definitely got ideas aplenty buzzing around my head as a result of hearing them speak.
First of all, I feel I should say here what a few bloggers were quietly noting to each other in the queues: that there wasn't that actually that much food available. I know, at a food conference! The stalls, amazing as they were, offered small samples rather than portions. The queues were long, and there weren't that many stalls either. Aside from on the Saturday evening when Bethany Kedhy (founder of FBC) provided a sumptuous Middle Eastern feast to launch her new book, the other opportunities for eating were a bit, well, slim. Bit disappointing considering the very expensive ticket price. However, like I say, there were some amazing eats on offer. Highlights for me were...
Pig a Chic: unbelievably good chicken and pork skewers with spicy papaya salad and hot sauce.
La Fromagerie UK: just the most orgasmic brie with truffles... amongst other unpasteurised dairy treats.
Yummy Choo Eats: Mauritian street food - total deliciousness - perfect sunshine food.
Eat Dorshi: Pork and Blue Vinney cheese gyoza - OH MY GOD!! Amazing.
Lovedesh: Bangladeshi wood-fired curry. Yasmin wants to put this cuisine on the map. She's got every chance judging by this aromatic, fresh, hot broth. Best curry ever?? Maybe.
First I met up with Louisa from Chez Foti, who has an exciting new blogging project in the making (eyes peeled)... She was just as gorgeous as I expected her to be, it was so nice to have a friendly face to greet me there. Then I met Lavender and Lovage's Karen Burns-Booth who is a completely wonderful foodie matriarch who just exudes warmth and charm. Tina from The Spicy Pear was a relative newbie, like me, so we connected over what we were learning that day. The aforementioned Denise from Moel Faban Suppers and me just clicked. She's a very cool lady, hopefully we'll stay in touch. I will definitely be visiting her supper club in North Wales, and I think a few drinks shall be had on that particular evening... Had a quick chat with Vanesther of Bangers and Mash who was really friendly. Jane of Hedgecomber was a really lovely person - and she's livin' the dream too with a small holding in Cornwall that sounds like actual heaven. We chatted about foraging, SEO, all sorts... Met a sweet lady, Jen from San Francisco (I can't find you anywhere Jen please leave a comment if you read this!) and then Manjiri from Slice of Me who is orginally from Mumbai. The three of us had an impassioned chat about religion, tolerance, the world... you know how you do! Great ladies. Also the aforementioned Yasmin of Lovedesh, who was there with her daughter to put Bangladesh cuisine on the map. Great talking to her about chilli tolerance in children and how to encourage families to eat more adventurously (my favourite subject). I was chuffed to bits to meet another Manchester blogger, Dannii from Hungry Healthy Happy, although it was towards the end and my energies were flagging by that time, but I hope we get to meet up closer to home.
There were so many other amazing ladies (hardly any men attended, what's that about?) that I met, so apologies if I missed you out.
So, even though I had a little crisis of confidence whilst there, as I sit and type away like this, remembering the new friends I made, the memorable food I ate, the inspiring talks I heard, I guess I can say I definitely more than enjoyed it. I may go even back next year. Maybe by then I'll feel more like the old me? I am feeling quite motivated by it all on reflection - perhaps I'll actually do what Kerstin suggested and just go ahead and set something up myself... The Northern Bloggers' Conference? Maybe... ; )
Here's some snaps... mainly of food. Regretfully I didn't take any good ones of the speakers or the lovely people I met (apart from Yasmin!)...
Street food from Pig a Chic.
Amazing. Bangladeshi wood-fired curry. Lovedesh.
Yasmin from Lovedesh with her daughter. Inspirational girls.
Yummy Choo Eats - Mauritian street food.
Middle Eastern flavours courtesy of Bethany Kehdy. I think these had lamb in... or possibly some greens and mint. There were two types!
Same. Gorgeous flavours.