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.
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.
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.