I’m back from BlogHer Food — an incredible weekend of food, bloggers, education, inspiration, networking, and friend-making — held in San Francisco last Friday and Saturday and it was an incredible experience I won’t soon forget. I came away from this conference extremely inspired, invigorated, smarter and completely stuffed with delicious food.
I went to the main BlogHer conference in New York this summer and it was really interesting to compare the two events. I had a good time overall in New York, but my experience at BlogHer Food blew that conference completely out of the water. With 2000 attendees, BlogHer felt really big and overwhelming, but the 300 person size of this event was almost intimate. I felt like it was much easier to meet and form connections with people because everyone shared a common interest. The sessions offered at the conference were all fantastic too. I had a very hard time choosing which talks I wanted to attend because there were so many topics that were of interest to me. (I started writing about the sessions here, but I found I had so much to say that I’m going to break that discussion out into a separate post later in the week.) While there were a lot of aspects to the big conference that left me wanting more, I am having a hard time coming up with anything about BlogHer Food that was not positive.
So, pardon me while I gush a little bit!
The people I met at BlogHer were by far the best part of my experience there! With only a couple of exceptions, everyone I talked to was friendly, kind and happy to chat about themselves and their blogs. Based on the number of business cards I brought home, I estimate that I spoke to about 15% of the people attending the conference! Considering that I only knew one person at the conference before I arrived and that I often feel shy in big social situations that just seems crazy to me!
I liked everyone I met, but I particularly enjoyed hanging out with the canning posse: Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven (she was the person I knew before), Audra from Doris and Jilly Cook and Marisa from Food in Jars. Our spirited conversations about canning “elitism”, eating local, and blogging politics were some of the high points of my weekend. And don’t you just love that there is a place on earth you can go where there is a canning posse?
I also really enjoyed talking with Mrs. Q from Fed Up with Lunch. She is passionate about her cause and a real inspiration to me.
And then, of course, there was the time I got to spend with my new best friend Elizabeth Falkner.
OK, it was only about 3 minutes and I spent most of the time telling her how much I like her s’mores brownie recipe but we bonded, people!
As you can imagine, there was also a lot of good food. The sampling stations has all sorts of yumminess going on: chipotle chocolate cupcakes, clementine martinis, and mini salads on skewers just to name a few. My very favorite though was this Cuties bruscetta. I’m buying the ingredients for it today so I can make some later this afternoon:
Saturday I visited the Ferry Plaza Market and practiced my food photography with tips I picked up in one of the sessions.
I also got some lunch at Out the Door: lemongrass pork over vermicelli noodles and a Vietnamese iced coffee.
And a chocolate macaron from Miette.
I feel a little shallow talking about the swag but I also know a lot of people are interested to know what goodies were given out at the conference. Between our conference tote, the freebies from the sponsors and the lovely gifts that were handed out at the parties, we were showered with swag non-stop. Here’s a quick run-down of what was handed out.
These are most of the edibles I received (my kids ate some stuff while I was at the second day of the conference so it’s not pictured). I was particularly happy with the huge amount of Scharffen Berger chocolate I brought home, but I’m also a new convert to Nature’s Path granola bars.
And here are the cooking gadgets.
The parties at the conference were also terrific and felt very inclusive. One of my big complaints about the BlogHer conference in NYC was that the private parties introduced a feeling of social stratification. I only heard of one private party at BlogHer Food and I didn’t even know about it until after the fact, so that feeling wasn’t nearly as pronounced.
The Food Fete the first night was enjoyable, but I really had fun at the closing night party hosted by little known bloggers Ree Drummond, Elise Bauer and Jaden Hair. One of the party sponsors was the Pork Board and — my God! — there was a lot of bacon there!
When presented with a free bacon martini, would you turn it down?
Me neither! It apparently had bacon vodka in it, but the only bacon I could taste was the garnish. It was good enough to finish, but not good enough for a second.
There was also a whole bacon room where you could sample bacon-y treats. The bacon popcorn and bacon ice cream were surprisingly good, but the chocolate-covered bacon (above) didn’t do much for me. There was more to this party than bacon, of course, but it kind of was the over-arching theme.
It really was a wonderful time! And I’m already plotting how to get to next year’s conference.
Coming soon: The Sessions!