Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food Blog Forum 2013: A Recap!

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Food. It ties every one of us together. And this past weekend, I flew out to Orlando, Florida to gather with others who embrace food in a similar way that I do... as food bloggers. From the looks of the photo above, I can assure you each and everyone of us are now tied to each other for simply experiencing the weekend together. I'm so happy that my suggestion to have a group photo of all the attendees during the conference was made into a reality. Isn't our group photo great?!

The Food Blog Forum was a full day seminar with a welcome reception the night before and a family brunch event the day after. It was a weekend designed specifically for food publishers and food bloggers highlighting relevant topics that I learned so much from such as:

Redefining Success & Setting Goals - What is success? How does my blog and my career help me achieve it? Scott Hair and Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen led this session where we explored what it is to be a 'successful' blogger and how each of us can achieve our personal levels of success. What I learned was success can be a never ending goal and it's more important to define what I truly want and why I want to achieve a certain level of 'success'.

Taking Your Visual Ideas to Flight - Cooking, recipes and life moments around food happen every day. As a result, how we view the world around us can easily inspire us to tell a story. Our story. Todd Porter and Diane Cu, the duo behind White on Rice, discussed how to take our ideas and be able to share our story with a unique and genuine voice. We also got some great tips on various mediums to share our story.

Technology Talk - The technology landscape is changing rapidly to create new opportunities for success. But before we can leverage all those new tools, we need to understand how to use them. To help us learn about those tools and discuss current technology trends applicable to us, Babette Pepaj of Bakespace and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes shared their perspectives on the various technology platforms available for us to use and their personal experiences with them. The session was also moderated by Erik Deutsch of Excel PR Group.

Walt Disney Imagineer - Being that this was my first time ever at Disney World, I was already impressed with the high level of quality, attention to detail and impeccable customer service well before I left the airport. But after listening to Senior Project Manager for Walt Disney Imagineering, Tim Warzecha, I'm completely blown away with all the time and effort Disney puts into all their projections. Tim shared his experience in creating a resort restaurant from an idea to an impressive reality. And if there was any take away from this session, it was to be authentic. Taking the time to put attention to detail and being authentic to oneself will speak volumes.

Grassroots Community Building - Building a passionate, long-term community takes dedication, hard work and lots of time. To talk about the various communities surrounding us and their importance to our individual growth and success of our blogs and websites, we had Jeff Houck of The Stew: Tampa TribuneDavid Leite of Leite's Culinaria, Julie Deily of Little Kitchen, and Lindsay Landis of Love & Olive Oil share their experiences. The growing number of food bloggers each day is evidence that our community is growing... and we should take advantage of that. Together we can support each other, build each other up, celebrate in each other's successes, lean on each other's shortcomings and collaborate our ideas into something delicious. The session was also inspired us to connect and stay connected to not only our readers but each other.

Here's a little video I created with some scenes from the conference {which you can also view on our YouTube Channel}:


Now because this is a food blogger conference, there was no shortage of delicious eats. Our lunch was catered by Disney Kid's Cuisine. Nine chefs and their teams from various restaurants within the Walt Disney Resorts provided an amazing lunch highlighting favorite children meals... jazzed up. The lunch was served station style, where small plates were offered of each dish from many stations around the room. It was great to get up and walk around, network with other food bloggers, take pictures of everything edible and have that relaxed time to enjoy the company. Our lunch menu consisted of:

- Pork Tenderloin with roasted potatoes, apple marmalade and broccolini
- Baked Florida coast fish sticks with whole grain rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables
- Oven roasted Wild Atlantic Shrimp with brown basmati rice, green beans and red grapes
- Multigrain Grilled Cheese dippers with tomato soup
- Turkey Pot Pie topped with a cheese biscuit
- Housemade Meatballs with orecchiette pasta & marinara sauce
- Macaroni & Cheese with white cheese sauce
- Cheddar Cheese Soup with pretzel bread croutons
- Fresh fruit kabobs
- Mini Chocolate Mousse Domes
- Assorted festive cake pops, cupcakes

And as if all the food and amazing swag we received wasn't enough, I hosted a National Foodie Swap among those attendees that wanted to participate by bringing items from your local area to share with others. This was inspired by previous conferences I've attended where friends and I brought something from home to share with the thought that new and familiar friends could take home a little more of who we are and where we come from. It was a great turn out of participants - about 24 bloggers from all over the country. It was a little chaotic due to a limited amount of time, not enough free space for us and I couldn't get enough large bags for each person to place their goodies in. But regardless, I think everyone that participated was overwhelmed with the generosity and creativity of all the delicious goodies they got to take home. Here's most of the items I took home just from the swap alone {and not including the swag given by the FBF conference!}... I'll be updating in another post details of each item received and where you can find them for yourself if you're interested!

Overall, it was a wonderful conference and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this year. I learned so much, brought a lot of takeaways that apply to food blogging and writing, and it was especially great to see some dear friends of mine as well as meet some new ones. I'm already looking forward to the possibility of snagging a spot to next year's event. And to take it a step further, I've also volunteered to co-host a Food Blog Forum conference here in Chicago perhaps in late 2014 or early 2015!

Stay tuned... tomorrow I'll be sharing our personal experience at Disney with a 3 year old visiting for the first time! :)

7 comments:

Eva said...

So happy that you had a great time! I wanted to go but it was sold out... maybe next year. =)

Angie Barrett said...

ooo I loved your little video! So cute! I personally loved the time that Tim talked with us about the details that Disney puts into things! It's so amazing!

Joelen Tan said...

@ Eva - Tickets did sell out really fast! Crossing fingers you and I will both be able to snag tickets - I'd love to see you again... it's been way too long!

@Angie - I'm so thankful to have met you! I love Disney more than ever, thanks to Tim's presentation. :)

Macaroni and Cheesecake said...

Great recap! I'm so glad I got to meet you!!

Joelen Tan said...

@Stephanie - Same here! So glad to have met you finally and hopefully we can meet up again soon at a future conference! If you're ever in Chicago, please let me know :)

That Girl said...

Sounds like so much fun!

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