BlogHer Food ’09

| September 28, 2009 | 3 Comments
  • 3 Comments

BlogHer Food '09 Keynote: Ree Drummond, David Lebovitz and Elise Bauer
BlogHer Food ’09 Keynote with Ree Drummond, David Lebovitz and Elise Bauer

Founded in 2005, BlogHer’s mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community and economic empowerment. Today, it reaches more than 15 million women each month via a Web hub with a listing of over 22,000 blogs by women (ranging from topics on politics, news, and technology, to food, health and family), a publishing network of more than 2500 blog affiliates, and annual conferences like the inaugural BlogHer Food ’09 which took place Saturday, September 26th.

I felt giddy as a school girl as I ran my finger down the list of speakers lined up:

David Lebovitz, David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris
Diane Cu and Todd Porter, White on Rice Couple
Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes
Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks
Helen Dujardin, Tartelette
Jaden Hair, Steamy Kitchen
Matt Armendariz, Matt Bites
Pim Techamuanvivit, Chez Pim/Menu for Hope
Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks
…among others.

These are the blogs I turned to for inspiration and guidance when I first decided to create my own. These are the people I looked to and thought, yes, that is what I want to do! To carve out a little space of my own, building my own story with each scrap of experience, word, or crumb I shared with the world.

As I sat amongst 300 fellow food writers/bloggers, rapt with attention as our blog crushes talked about the trials and tribulations, joys and inspirations of food blogging, I felt a wonderful sense of community. Regardless of where we were from, what we liked to write about, how long we’ve been at it, we had at least one thing in common…food. And the inexplicable need to talk about it.

And talk we did.

The day was divided into three tracks: Visual, Vocation, and Values, with speakers represented from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

blogher-food-09-Matt Armendariz and Heidi Swanson
“Developing Your Visual Voice” — Matt Armendariz and Heidi Swanson

The Visual Track focused on food photography — developing your visual voice, basic principles and techniques, and how to take your photography to a new level.

blogher-food-09-Jaden Hair, Helen Dujardin and Amy Sherman
“Your blog is great…now what?” — Jaden Hair, Helen Dujardin and Amy Sherman

The Vocation Track delved into best practices on building a better blog, blogging as a profession, developing business relationships online and offline, and protecting yourself and your work. Bay Area Bites’ very own, Amy Sherman from Cooking with Amy moderated a panel in this track all about letting your blog lead the way to new opportunities.

BAB also represented on the Values Track, with Jen Maiser, the woman behind the Eat Local Challenge, leading a discussion on “The Politics of Food…and Food Blogs” — the very deliberate movement to change minds within and about the food industry. This track also explored “How Food Blogs Can Save the World,” with discussions on how bloggers can support issues they care about, and how to take that action offline as a volunteer or activist.

And, of course, there was food.

blogher-food-09-Rocco DiSpirito
Rocco and the lunching ladies

While overcooked pasta for lunch left much to be desired for, it appeared that Rocco DiSpirito did some damage control with his amped up charm, flying from table to table (dizzying as it may have been).

TuttiFoodie and Scharffen Berger hit the sweet spot with its Chocolate Adventure Contest demo with Elizabeth Falkner, Executive Chef of Citizen Cake and Orson.

The concept of the Chocolate Adventure Contest is to create an inventive recipe using Scharffen Berger chocolate and least one of their 17 listed “adventure ingredients.” Chef Faulkner demonstrated her confectionary prowess by using 11 of them in her Chocolate Adventure Box, layering all sorts of goodies like homemade pandan-flavored marshmallow, peanut butter, cumin, and corn nuts, among other things.

blogher-food-2009-Elizabeth Falkner
Chef Elizabeth Falkner gets sticky

blogher-food-2009-Chocolate Adventure Box
Chocolate Adventure Box

Now for the fun part…

blogher-food-2009-chocolate adventure box
Dive in! (Gudrun from Kitchen Gadget Girl goes fishing)

blogher-food-2009-scharffen berger chocolate adventure contest
Yeaup, really get in there (Photo credit: Amy Wilson, Streaming Gourmet)

After we were sufficiently sugar-high, the Closing Keynote treated us to an open discussion with Elise Bauer, Ree Drummond and David Lebovitz — three accomplished bloggers who have been at this a while. With very different styles and approaches to blogging, it was interesting to hear how they responded to similar challenges of sustaining momentum and avoiding burnout. It was also reassuring to hear that 1 post typically takes them anywhere from 4-6 hours to complete…and that it doesn’t always come easy to them.

blogher-food-2009-Todd Porter, Diane Cu and David Lebovitz
Party time: Todd Porter, Diane Cu and David Lebovitz

BlogHer Food ’09 was very much about community, support, and growth. More coverage on the conference can be found in the live-blogging forums, but for a quick recap, here are my 5 take-aways from the sessions:

• Create opportunities — Put yourself out there. Talk to people. Network. Step away from the computer.

• Come from a place of authenticity — Sincerity goes a long way.

• If a business is what you want, treat it like a business — Have a plan, make goals, create a vision that will keep you inspired.

• Share more than just the sugar and the flour — People want a person and a life behind the blog. Don’t be afraid to share your story.

• Writer’s block and burn out — Happens to the best. Remind yourself of what you want. Do what makes you happy.

At the end of the day though, the highlight was getting to meet so many kindred souls. The weird and beautiful thing about blogging is how well you get to know someone from a distance. It was a real pleasure meeting many bloggers I’ve been following for months, and in the end, I guess that’s what it’s really about. Human connection (over something good to eat).

blogher-food-2009-chocolate adventure box
Joy, Gourmeted

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, food bloggers and social media

About the Author ()

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well. Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine. Stephanie's writing and photography have been featured in Fodor's Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.
  • http://www.mattbites.com matt armendariz

    What an amazing round up! It truly was an honor to participate and meet so many amazing people. I’m still on Cloud 9.

  • http://lickmyspoon.com Stephanie Im

    Thanks, Matt! Yes, it was surreal having such talent under one roof. And thanks for the photo inspiration!

  • http://www.kitchengadgetgirl.com Gudrun

    thanks for that great picture of me dipping my hands in! What an exciting experience, I would love to create that chocolate box at home for my kids!