I spent my last IFBC recap post swooning over Dorie Greenspan and being a total fan girl over my fellow bloggers. Today, it’s all about making y’all jealous over the amazing food I ate, the ridiculous free swag I received and the informative sessions I attended that will hopefully make me a better blogger!
For real, all I did the entire weekend was EAT. I was in a continual state of fullness the entire time.
We kicked off Friday afternoon with lunch provided by Chipotle Mexican Grill. You had a meat or a veggie option. Since I’m a hard core carnivore, I chose the pork carnita, which was a delicious bowlful of rice, guacamole, pulled pork and salsa. I then washed it down with two mini ice cream cones (coffee and red velvet) from Cupcake Royale. So so so good.
We then listened to Dorie’s keynote speech and immediately launched into the Amazon Grocery live blogging session. Amazon now has an online grocery store and they supplied us with bags upon bags of free stuff to sample while live blogging/tweeting/Instagramming/Facebooking/blogging. What really impressed me was the quality of the products, a lot of which were GMO-free, organic and fairly healthy. Most of the companies who provided samples are striving to be ethical in how they did business and how they produce their food. Most importantly, it was all super yummy.
After eating all the free snacks and practically vibrating from my sugar high, I chose my first session, The Elements of Building Traffic hosted by Judith Dern from Allrecipes.com and the Foodista dream team, Richard Kozel, Barnaby Dorfman and Sheri Wetherell. They gave us extremely practical and helpful information, including:
– your blog won’t stand out based only on SEO
– the most important element for your blog is quality content. They recommended making your posts shorter rather than longer and posting more often. Be consistent so that your readers know what to expect
– invest in Pinterest. Your numbers will go up big time!
– invest in automated distribution of your posts, such as hootsuite, tweetdeck, dlvr.it and ifttt
– if you are finding you can’t manage everything you need done with your blog, you can hire someone through odesk.com. You pay them online and they can help you with a variety of tasks. Foodista uses the services of odesk.com regularly
– measure your traffic with Google analytics
– set up a Facebook page for your blog
– always practice writing
– put a search item in your title or your first sentence with a hashtag
– think about how people search on line and then use those search terms. For example, people will likely use the word “drinks” more often than “beverage”
– use free Google trends and Google ad words to find out what’s popular and then blog about those trends
We then had a few hours to kill before A Taste of Seattle and Gourmet Fair started. Imagine a giant conference room full of restaurants, wineries and other vendors, like Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch (seriously, the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted) handing out the finest they have to offer.
I was so busy eating, I didn’t get as many photos of the vendors and the food as I wanted. Standouts for me were giant, perfectly smoked scallops (I’m so sorry to whichever restaurant made them – I didn’t note your name. Believe me, I loved them!) and the sipping caramel from Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery.
At the same time, there was an entire room full of free swag for us to walk around and fill up bags. And fill bags we did! Most of us had unload the swag in our rooms because it was just too heavy to lug around.
Here I am monkeying around with Vane, Linda and Alice during the Taste of Seattle, sipping wine and modelling our new toques from Mail Chimp.
On Saturday morning, breakfast was hosted by Pastry Smart, an awesome California based bakery that specializes in artisan breads, pastry products and fine chocolates using all-natural, organize and American Human Certified ingredients. I love what their company stands for and what they’re accomplishing. Their food was absolutely delicious.
After our yummy breakfast, there was a food demo by Chef John Mitzewich of Food Wishes and Jeffrey Lunak of Blue C Sushi (there was a second chef from Blue C but I didn’t catch his name).
This was so much fun. The chefs were hilarious, constantly smack talking (my favourite kind of talk). Andrew Scrivani, the phenomenally talented food photographer for the New York Times, was also on hand to make insulting comments. We then launched directly into a photography session by Andrew. His photos are ah-may-zing. I can only hope that one day my photos will look one tenth as good as his.
Andrew had some invaluable tips and no, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars or have the most expensive equipment to take stunning photographs.
My favourite tips:
– always shoot in raw
– never ever give away your raw photos
– two words: macro lens. Use it!
– natural light is so important
– you can use cheap little boards to reflect light. He pulled out a large plastic ziplock bag full of boards, many of which he got for free when buying shirts or t-shirts.
We then broke for lunch, where again, several restaurants from Seattle were on hand to provide us with tasty offerings. I enjoyed Andrew’s presentation so much that after lunch, I went to his session on photography workflow. Much of what he said applied to the business of food photography but it was still informative.
After that, from 4:00 p.m. onwards, I spent the rest of my Saturday eating. No joke.
I went to a food and wine pairing hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle winery.
As soon as we left that session, Alaska Seafood hosted a Taste of Alaska Seafood Reception featuring dishes such as:
I then rolled myself upstairs to my room where I lay in bed until the surprise dinner being hosted by Urban Spoon.
Urbanspoon totally brought it by hosting and sponsoring a surprise dinner for all 300+ attendees. They split us into groups of 10, loaded us onto shuttle buses and drove us to different Seattle restaurants where the entire bill was footed by Urbanspoon. They also gave us swag bags including Rub with Love nuts by Tom Douglas and a copy of Chef John Howie’s cookbook Passion and Palate.
My restaurant was Marjorie. It was my first time eating there and it was such a funky space with incredible food.
Every mouthful was exquisite (especially the Painted Hills short rib steak) but my favourite part was dessert: warm brioche bread pudding with bourbon caramel, cream and house made toffee.
Oh.my.gawd. My group was fighting over every mouthful. The coolest part about dinner was meeting new bloggers, like my fellow Canucks Jacqueline of Cooking With Jax and Chef Heidi, as well as the super sweet Bee of Camera In Tow from Seattle. There was one other local Seattle blogger with us but I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten her name! Sorry girl, it was a pleasure breaking bread with you.
I was so sad to wake up on Sunday morning. The last session I attended had to do with Google +. The presenter did a great job but I’m sorry, I’m still such a novice that 99% of what he said totally went over my head.
This conference, hosted by Foodista and Zephyr Adventures, just blew me away. The W Hotel was amazing. They provided excellent service, the hotel itself is a super cool, modern space, and everything went smoothly without a hitch. Their staff could turn down a room and switch it over so fast, you’d never have guessed it was a big mess just moments earlier.
IFBC was so successful this year, with over 100 people on the waiting list, that they’re increasing the attendees for next year to 500. It’s going to be the same weekend, in Seattle, at the Westin. I’d better register and get my ticket now!
Anyone care to join me? Need more convincing? Check out all the swag I lugged home. These photos don’t even do it justice!