This blogging ‘thing’ suddenly seems very real the minute I valet park my car at the Intercontinental hotel in San Fran for the BlogHer food conference this Friday. I’ve followed the conference checklist to the letter and have worn comfortable shoes – my beloved red orthopedic Swedish clogs, have packed a pair of flip flops just in case as orthopedic as they are my feet get sore, my camera, lap top, water bottle, notebook, business cards (yes – I even have real gfreemom business cards now – all very grown up), etc etc. In short, I am the bag lady. And that’s even before I’ve stepped in the door, have registered and have received the fully laden BlogHer Food swag bag.
Luckily, there isn’t that much walking – the flip flops are definitely superfluous, and the conference venue is super organized. I don’t really need the heavy, pretty, gold note book either – note pads are provided in every session, but hey… you live and learn.
I am a tad daunted by the fact that I don’t know anyone, but by the time I’m sat in the first session on Food Photography with White on Rice holding the floor and giving amazing advice, I realize that some of the gluten free blogging community is also in the room (gotta love twitter). I tweet Shirley from GlutenFreeEasily (love that Blog name) and ask whereabouts in the room she is. All I can see is a sea of people and there is no way an earth that I’m relying on recognizing anyone from the wee pics I have seen of them online in past months. She tweets back that she is at the front, wearing a salmon colored top, next to Jaden of The Steamy Kitchen. And off I go, into the world of food blogging at BlogHer.
The session on photography is phenomenal. Just perfect. Full of energy, spirited, informative, down to earth and just really really – really – useful. As much as I learned about photography during my graphic design degree days many moons ago, I’ve forgotten a ton of things and I definitely never ever thought about photographing food until the moment that I realized that gfreemom and her recipes was going to be deadly dull without pics. It’d never really crossed my mind as to what a fundamental part of blogging photography really is and I’m super exited to have had my passion for the camera reinvigorated. Thank you Todd and Diane!
During lunch, I meet a ton more gluten free bloggers. So so cool. These are the people that I’ve been stumbling upon, following on Twitter, admiring their blogs and linking from my blog ever since gluten became a hot topic in our household. The sense of community amongst this group of women at BlogHer Food is phenomenal and I am humbled that they take me under their wing and make me feel so welcome. As a gluten free must, must, must, check out my lunch friends:Book of Yum, Gluten Free Easily, Celiacs in the House, The W.h.o.l.e Gang, Glugle Gluten Free, Whole Life Nutrition, Cook It Allergy Free, I Am Gluten Free, and if dairy is an issue for you then check out Go Dairy Free. Quite an amazing group of women and a wealth of information and knowledge between them.
After lunch, I choose a panel discussion that talks about growing your brand and knowing your voice across all media. The panels are all big blogging personalities in their own rights. Their stories are compelling. This is one of the sessions where it takes a while for me to filter through all of the information received in my mind and to realize how, in between their stories of personal blogging successes, these four people have actually informed and inspired me in a way that I hadn’t expected. These sites aren’t gluten free, but they are great food blogs, worth checking out if you are in the mood for delving into the depths of the food blogging world: The Steamy Kitchen, Leite’s Culinaria, Indian As Apple Pie, Georgia Pellegrini.
After this session, I’m introduced to the lady who runs a gluten free resource group here in Marin. Alison’s blog is Sure Foods Living. How cool. I love the fact that a group of people get together every couple of months right on my doorstep to share all things gluten free. C will be delighted – I can already envisage myself coming home with a full pandora’s box of new tips and tricks of the gluten free trade.
In between all of this digesting of information and meeting and greeting of people, I get a moment to take in all of the foodie stuff that is surrounding us. It’s with delight that I swoop over to the Nutella stand. Nutella might not be the healthiest thing ever to have crossed the threshold of my home, but it’s definitely one of my most important kitchen staples. I love it for all sorts of reasons. I love it because my kids love it. I love it because I loved it when I was growing up too. We used to bring back as many jars as we could squeeze into our suitcases every time we went on a trip to visit my mums family in Germany. Nutella was non-existent in the UK at the time, and so I’d delight in walking the 3 mile trek home from school, knowing that I’d have a chunky piece of toast with gooey melting nutella on it the minute I walked through the door. The treat was all of the more special knowing that I was the only kid on the street enjoying this particular delight. Nice. I pick up two nutella spreaders for the boys and am delighted to realize that one of the heavy items in my swag bag turns out to be a jar of nutella. Hurrah!
The last break out session of the day that I attend is SEO for beginners. Without getting too techy, this is the stuff that makes people find the words that I am typing into my computer right now. Without figuring out this stuff, I will be left eternally asking myself the question of why I am blogging my gluten-free living heart out on a weekly basis. The panelists are phenomenal. I bow to their knowledge and am impressed by their clarity, simplicity, and ability to stay on track with dozens of tangental questions being thrown at them by eager to learn bloggers just like me. One of the panelists is also a gluten free blogger and a very cool chick indeed. Stephanie Stiavetti is Wasabimom. Her co-panelist has a really clever blog that lets you replicate the food that you see/eat in a restaurant at home in your kitchen. I love that. So clever. The other Stephanie – Stephanie Manley’s blog is CopyKat Recipes. Check it out.
The clementine cocktail bar starts shaking after this round of BlogHer Food sessions. Everyone loosens up and wears a smile. The chatter in the room rises a notch in volume. Funny that. I try to resist the bookstore part of the event, but don’t succeed. I buy “Cooking for Isaiah”. Love this book! I know it will inspire C. He will love the fact that there is another gluten and lactose free boy out there, whose mum made a cookbook – just for him. It is written by Silvana Nardone of Dish Towel Diaries (cool name). I miss meeting her. We have a quick tweet. Hopefully next time…
I’m pretty pooped after all of this, but head determinedly to the last keynote of the day. It’s a relaxing and enjoyable keynote. I feel as though I have my feet up at home and am watching tv. Probably because the keynote is with Food TV Star Aidi Mollencamp. I think the whole room gets a little star struck by her.
I then find my groovy gang again and we head over to the evening shin dig. More food, more foodies, more chatting. Stephanie O’Dea is part of the crew. She makes me smile – alot. Just perfect. Thank you!
I have a quick chat to Shauna Ahern (Gluten Free Girl) before I head back over the golden gate bridge to tuck the boys into their beds. She is the one person that I really wanted to connect with today. So good to meet the people you’ve been admiring from afar. Shauna and her husband have a new cookbook, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. The fab thing about this book is that it’s a love story and a book all in one, so even if all you ever do is look at pictures in cookbooks thinking about transforming one of the recipes in it into reality in your kitchen, then this book is perfect for you because its good bedtime reading too.
Bedtime reading seems perfect, as I weave my way back through the city and out to Marin. Thank you BogHer Food ’10 for the experience. I’ll attempt to brave the full two days next time.