I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at the first annual BlogHer Food. For those of you who remember my BlogHer ’09 posts from July, you might be surprised I so willingly attended. I was surprised myself, but curiosity got the better of me, and I’m glad it did.

Continuing the motif, I was also surprised that I enjoyed myself so thoroughly. I had intended on staying through my session, which was before lunch, and then heading out to explore San Francisco. I ended up remaining at the conference for the entire day. I found the sessions, while geared towards recipe-oriented food bloggers, were still relevant for review and wine blogs as well. The whole attitude of the day was different from what I expected, and I was thrilled. It was the perfect size (I believe it was around 300 people) and the programming struck just the right note.

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My panel focused on blogging best practices. Not only was I on a panel with an impressive group of women, we actually talked about blogging. It was refreshing. I also attended a session on photography basics, as well as a fantastic session on protecting your work and copyright. I learned something in every session I attended. I’m a terrible conference attendee, and often my attention easily wanders, so BlogHer Food’s programming impressed me.

In fact, the only complaint I heard from anyone (myself included) was about the lunch. It was a hyper Rocco diSpirito and Bertolli. Yep, they served a bunch of food bloggers thawed Bertolli. This isn’t a food blog, but when the people at the table are complaining that the ravioli alfredo was more reminiscent of biscuits and gravy, you know there’s a problem.

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Perhaps it was because we were all coalescing around a common topic – the love of food and wine – but I found the entire environment to be a lot more friendly than my previous BlogHer experiences. I hunted down folks I knew, people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and even met several impressive authors who were more than friendly. I gladly attended a party in the evening, looking forward to seeing some people again. I discovered that food bloggers are food bloggers, no matter their genre. Recipe bloggers were interested in hearing from review bloggers (and wine bloggers!) and I was interested to talk to the recipe folks. It was just such a different experience – for me – than the larger BlogHer conference I attended in July.

Finally, while there was swag, it was both excellent and controlled. I believe there were only five sponsors in the expo/demo area (Healthy Choice, Campbell’s, Pur, Cuisinart, and Pillsbury) as well as the Bertolli lunch and the California Milk-sponsored breakfast. I have no complaints with the goodies with which I came home. The organization even set up an easy and obvious area to donate unwanted foodstuffs from the goodie bags to a local shelter.

Even if I don’t speak next year, I’ll gladly return to BlogHer Food. Among other things, it was just great to be in a room with other people who all whip out their cameras to take a photo of their food. Camaraderie wins every time.

Update: Live blogs from the sessions are now available.

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Cheers!
Tweet Michelle @writetechnology, send her technology news at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, visit her wine blog when you’re thirsty, and drop by her day job.

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