Hi gang! Are you ready for a BIG ole post? Let’s do it!
As you know, I was away this past weekend attending the 2010 Food Blog Forum Atlanta Conference (Try this link, hopefully it still works). Lori contacted me a couple months ago to let me know that this event was going on. After some chatting with her and Scott, it was decided that it would be a great opportunity to learn how to improve my blog. Lori and I decided that we would room together and then started planning our trip.
The great thing about this seminar being located in Atlanta was the fact that it was very close for those of us on the Eastern end of the States. The majority of blogging conferences are on the West half of the states which is lovely if you live over there. For those of us who don’t, a cross country flight is expensive and requires all day traveling. Add on the cost of the seminar, hotel fees, and extra money for happy fun times, and you have a good chunk of change invested into what amounts to a very small amount of time.
This seminar in Atlanta was perfect! They offered a great deal on hotel rooms and the seminar itself was not crazy expensive. In fact it you got the early bird deal (which both Lori and I did) ticket price was less than $100. I was able to score a round trip flight for under $200 and the flight itself was an hour for me.
Hooray! Me and flying do not make the cutest couple so an hour flight is totally my style.
Putting all those positives together meant it would be silly to pass up this great opportunity.
I arrived in Atlanta around 2pm and Atlanta greeted me with hot sweaty open arms. Going from 60 degrees to 90 with humidity almost melted my little body down to the ground. I scheduled a ride to the hotel and arrived safe and sound. The hotel was the Hyatt Place at Buckhead. It was very lovely and the front desk staff were extremely friendly, hospitable, and helpful. I took some quick pictures of the room.
Lori had not arrived yet, she was driving in and would be heading straight over to the cocktail party. The plan was to hook up with her later in the evening.
After taking pictures, I immediately headed out to find some food because I was about to eat my right arm. I totally forgot to use my phone to help me search and asked the front desk for suggestions. They had food there but it wasn’t anything I was interested in, so I headed right across the street to Gordon Biersch for a salad and veggies. I called Scott and chatted with him while I stuffed my face. I was also looking to fuel up before heading out to the first meet ‘n greet.
One of the downsides to the seminar was that the events were not very close to the hotel in terms of being able to walk there. You either needed to have a car or know someone who did. Since Lori wasn’t there yet, this left me looking for a ride. Thankfully, Monica from Sweet Bites was driving over and she offered to give me a lift. Bonus was that her room was right across from my room! I chatted with her briefly after my lunch and we decided to head over to the event around 6pm. This would give us a chance to rest and shower before needing to head back out.
Friday Night’s cocktail party was held at The Viking Store a few miles down from the hotel. I know Viking from the high quality ranges and fridges that they produce. This store was filled with all kinds of great kitchen accessories, gadgets, and also a line of the Viking appliances. Nestled in among all the stock was cocktails and nibbles. There were amazing cheese tables set up all around the store that had cheese, crackers, bread, and fruits. Along with wines, pop, and mineral water for beverages. I had some cheese (who’s passing up cheese?!), crackers, and some wine. Then I started looking around the store trying not to drool over all the different kinds of ranges and fridges.
Someday my Prince will build me the kitchen of my dreams. Or so he tells me.
There was also a pasta station where handmade pasta with herbs and chives was being made and topped with a mushroom sauce. I had a small plate of it and it was amazing! The mushroom sauce was not overpowering at all and the pasta was tender and fresh. I chatted with the chef who was making the pasta and she informed me that this store was also a cooking school. People can sign up for classes and they offer all different styles of classes all year long. If you are in the Atlanta area and are looking for some interesting cooking classes, check out The Viking Store on Peachtree!
I had peaches on top of shortbread with basil whipped cream. I asked the gentleman who was manning the desserts, that if I asked him nicely, could I have extra peaches? Seeing as how I’ve never been to Georgia before, getting the full experience of some Georgia Peaches would be wonderful.
I was rewarded with extra peaches! Fruit quotient for the day fulfilled! Also? The dessert was amazing and so were the peaches!
Sadly, I do not have any pictures of my food but please know it was delish! He showed us two ways to cook pork belly. First up was curing your own bacon. He explained the process, how long it took, and what you could do with it once you had bacon. He cooked bacon bites in a maple sriracha sauce paired with a watermelon bite. It was spicy sweet and tasty. Next up was roasted pork belly that he turned into tacos with homemade hoisin sauce. Mmmmm!
The demo let out and I headed out to find some water and to see if Lori arrived. She did! I chatted with her and Melissa for a bit while they had some munchies and then we decided to head back to the hotel.
Lori dropped off her stuff and demanded a beer. I could not argue with her so off we went.
Back across the street for some brews. Sorry for the flash pic but it was night and we were outside on the patio so I decided it was alright. I had the Swartz-something which is a dark beer close to a stout but not quite as heavy as a stout. Lori had the Hefeweizen. We chatted for a bit then headed back over to the hotel to try and get a decent night’s sleep before the conference.
It wasn’t happening. Neither of us slept well and there was a lot of yelling and carrying-on that happened in our hallway during the late night and early morning. It was like being back in college again. Yikes! It didn’t seem like many people slept well so we were all a bit bleary eyed for the seminar.
We arrived at The Shed which is a bistro style restaurant. They had coffee, tea, and some breakfast munchies waiting for the attendees. Everyone nibbled and chatted for a bit, then it was time to start the seminar!
The seminar was an all-day event jam packed with great speakers and great advice. This was my first time getting a chance to hear Steamy Kitchen and White on Rice Couple speak about their blogs and their passion. There were also a few panel discussions and a small talk from a local photography shop.
The first half of the seminar was live streamed, did any of you get to watch it?
I learned so much from this seminar! Things from how to better match my blog to my vision to learning about lighting for better photography. I would love to be able to give you a run down of everything but that would take up an entire post just by itself! It was so much information and a ton of great advice. All of the speakers were friendly and very open to sharing their knowledge and skills. I can’t even put into words how to adequately discuss the amount of knowledge that was shared and devoured by those of us attending.
My only complaint was that the venue was a bit squishy and there were no tables so it was hard to write, tweet, eat, and take pictures all at the same time.
Many breaks were offered during the day which was much needed for us to stretch our legs and take a moment to stand up and walk around.
A light lunch was served.
I went the veggie route with a tomato and goat cheese slider, pasta salad, and a deviled egg. The slider was amazing! I went back in for another one and they were all gone. Boo, I was so bummed out! I should have taken two the first time around.
After lunch the majority of the second half of the day was photo sessions by White on Rice Couple, Diane and Todd. They take amazing photos and they also mentioned that they DO NOT use Photoshop. I along with several others were happy to hear this! I have no desire to learn Photoshop. If I did, it would only be to possibly add a watermark or a title to my picture, that’s it. When I take a picture, I do two things, I sharpen it, and sometimes I adjust the contrast just a tad. Done. I want my pictures and food to speak for themselves and by doing a ton of stuff in Photoshop, I feel that makes the picture less authentic. I was very happy to know that awesome pictures can be achieved without a program.
Once the day was over, we were all pretty exhausted. There was one last event to attend, and that was the farewell cocktail party at The Spice Market. It was a trendy little bistro bar featuring Asian style dishes. I don’t have any pictures because it was an extremely dark space and my little point and shoot can’t handle that kind of atmosphere. Plus this was not an appropriate time for flash!
We were treated to a signature drink and some finger foods. The best of the night were the flax chips made with lentil flour with a spicy tomato jam for dipping. I asked one of the servers the name of the dipping sauce but the music was loud and it was hard to hear what he said. It was thick and rich with a hint of curry and a sweet finish. It was amazing and I would have kept eating it if I didn’t force myself to stop!
We said our goodbyes and made our way to get some dinner. It was nice to sit down, be served, and chat with some other attendees.
Then we headed back to the hotel for a night of rest before traveling back home. I snapped some quick pics of the swag bags that were offered, there were two of them!
Hands-down this event was amazing and one of the best food blog related seminars that are out there. There is so much information and knowledge to be learned and the best part is that everyone is willing to share that. Everybody was so nice and you felt a genuine warmth from this little group of speakers and attendees.
Some of the negatives were that the events were a bit far from the hotel and the main seminar had squishy conditions. Otherwise it was perfect!
I highly encourage you to attend one of these events if you can. What can you expect from attending:
- Learning how to make your blog and your vision mirror each other.
- How to set up a food photo and learn how to work with the environment you have.
- How to interact with PR agencies so that everyone wins.
- How to make your blog standout.
Great information that everyone will benefit from!
Thanks again to Steamy Kitchen and White on Rice Couple for agreeing to put on an amazing event! A Giant Thank You to Bunky Cooks for suggesting Atlanta and for coordinating all the events and giveaways. It was a fantastic time and I would love to attend another!
Have you ever been to a food blogging conference and what did you think of it? This was my second one and I enjoyed this a lot more than the first one.