On the 5th July 2013 I embarked on a journey to London to visit my first ever blogging conference, actually, my first ever FOOD blogging conference! Who in the world could have dreamt that such a conference existed?! Food Blogger Connect 5 was held at the Battersea Arts Centre near Clapham Junction which was ideal for travelling to. Thumbs up to the organisers for choosing a well connected area and a fantastic venue.
The first event of the day was the Meet and Greet session which was great. With a glass of fizz and plenty of food on offer, what was there not to like?! Nervewracking at first, it was great to meet new people who share the same passion for food as I do. There was food on offer from different stalls and lots of things to try. One of my highlights was the Truffle brie from La Fromagerie. It was divine! Their oatcakes are probably the best shop bought oatcakes I have ever tasted, and being a Scot, I know my oatcakes!
To kick start the afternoon David Lebovitz did a presentation on blogging. A very interesting guy with lots of good advice for bloggers.
What I learned from him was:
- Make your blog interesting, show your disasters and flaws to your readers.
- Blog for yourself, do what you please as long as you enjoy it.
- Stories come from the unexpected!
- Show your mistakes!
- Be human, show what’s going on in your mind.
Afterwards there was a panel discussion with David, Niamh Shields from Eat Like a Girl and Emma Gardner from Poires au Chocolat on what successful blogging really means. To be successful, the most important thing is to love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, then you will not transmit this to your readers. Another interesting point made was to not bother about what people think of you. Write what you want to write about.
After the presentations, we were treated to an afternoon tea from various stalls, but the one that stood out for me was Bev’s Cookies. WOW, gorgeous chewy cookies with large chocolate chunks that hadn’t melted in the oven. So many flavours on offer but my favourite was the red velvet cookie!
For the rest of the afternoon there were presentations on various aspects of blogging such as niche blogging, sustainable food and a fantastic presentation by Niamh Shields on her Canadian food journey. It just made me want to go back to Canada and eat, eat, eat!
In the evening there was plenty of food to taste from all the different traders. Although I must admit, trying the Canadian ice cider and maple syrup was a highlight for sure!!
On the Saturday morning I missed the presentation by Penny de Los Santos which was a real shame, but I’m glad I arrived in time to see Emily Jonzen from Leiths. She did a presentation on food styling and some of the tricks they use to make the food look good would make you not want to eat your food! Although, the most vital thing in food styling is to put your dish together at the last minute to make it looks as fresh as possible.
The morning was then filled up with various presentations from social cooking to self publishing.
During one of the tea breaks I got to try Moose Maple Butter. If you ever get your hands on this stuff, it’s pleasure in a butter!
Then lunchtime came, and this was the part of the weekend I was most disappointed with as there really wasn’t much to eat. Sounds strange when you say it was a food conference but there were not really any options for a lunch, so in the end I had to buy something from the cafe as I was fed up of munching on popcorn and crisps!
The highlight of the afternoon for me was the presentation on Gluten Free baking by Holly Taylor of Pure Taste Pop Up and Adriana Rabinovitch from Gluten Free 4 Kids. As I am a baker, students always ask me about gluten free baking but I have never really had any reason to do it but now I am inspired to experiment with gluten free recipes for my baking classes.
During the rest of the afternoon, I learned how to make money from your blog, how to set up your own street food business and how to launch your own food career from Kerstin Rodgers from Ms Marmite Lover. She was hilarious, to the point and showed that it is possible to change career and start your own food career.
There were plenty more sweet treats from Petit Gateau such as their chocolate fondants, financiers and macarons. I can say the chocolate fondant with raspberry was a firm favourite!
After a “hard day at the office”, Bethany Kehdy provided us with the most fantastic spread of Middle Eastern food from her new book, The Jewelled Kitchen. I have never tasted proper food from Lebanon, but I am now a convert! The next cook book I am going to buy is this one for sure!
The final day of the conference was as action packed as the previous days, however the best part for me was the presentation by Regula Ysewijn from Miss Foodwise. The presentation was on brand identiy and she was a breath of fresh air! The passion she has for her blog shows when she talks about it and I think her branding is so unique in comparison to other blogs. I learned a lot from her and now I need to get my backside in gear and work on my brand identity!
To sum up the weekend, I had a great time, ATE FAR TOO MUCH, learned a lot and made some new foodie friends who I hope to see one day in the near future. Thanks to the organisers for putting on such an action packed weekend and I look forward to see what next years Food Blogger Connect will bring!
The blogs below are by some of the wonderful people that I met at the conference. I would put lots more down if I could but I would run out of space on my blog, however do check out these great blogs!