I am resisting all temptation to try and pack the enormity of experiences I’ve had at IFBC over the past 3 days into 1 teeny, tiny blog post. It’s really difficult because I want to share so much, but I am forcing myself to break into smaller, more palatable chunks so that I don’t overwhelm you, and also to allow my busy brain to sift through all of the thoughts and ideas that are currently churning like grandma’s old washing machine. So are you ready for day 1? Okay, here goes.
I woke up rested and ready to embrace the day on Friday, the first official day of the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). Believe it or not, the sun has actually been shining in Seattle most of the time I’ve been here! Okay, there was a little rain Friday night, but it was late and it was gone by morning so it doesn’t really count. The point is, the sun was shining and I set out on foot to explore Seattle before the conference started at noon.
I browsed, I shopped, I stopped for coffee at one of the many, many Starbucks that dot literally every street corner in downtown Seattle, and I counted down the minutes until the conference began. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Finally it was time. I practically ran up the hotel stairs to the conference rooms, confidently grabbed my name badge from the check-in table, and courageously dove into the river of food bloggers that crowded the hallways. Some I had met the day prior at the pre-conference excursion, and others were new. We eagerly exchanged business cards and talked food and writing while exploring the vendors. And suddenly, we were all quickly side-tracked by the Cupcake Royale table whose staff were doling out generous scoops of ice cream.
Wait. Cupcake Royale makes ice cream too? Well yes, it turns out they do, and some damn good ice cream at that. I had their new flavor, Bourbon Crackerjack, which they debuted at IFBC. Yum!
After dessert, we had lunch, generously provided by Chipotle who was serving up burrito bowls of either pork carnitas or their new tofu sofritas. I had to try the tofu, while I’m not a vegetarian I just love that a national food chain is adding tofu to their menu. And let me tell you, it was delicious! For my bowl, I had a little of Chipotle’s famous lime and cilantro rice with the tofu sofritas topped with guacamole, salsa, and pickled red onions. Double yum!
Full and happy, I stumbled to the opening session with the conference keynote speaker, Dorie Greenspan, a well-renowned author who is currently living my own personal dream of living, cooking and writing in Paris. Aside from being a great cook, Dorie is also a humble, charming, genuine human being. In the midst of talking about her evolution from a writer in the typewriter age to a social media savvy author, she generously dropped charming stories of working with the legendary Julia Child, one of my idols. More importantly, though, as a speaker Dorie made herself vulnerable to the audience, allowing me to connect to her in a way that made me feel she understands where I am and maybe, just maybe, someday I can live my own dream too.
The one thing that Dorie said that has stuck with me the most is “I have been fortunate because I always said yes.” She went on to say that she said yes to things that terrified her, and to things that didn’t translate into a lot of money but she did them anyway because it was interesting. I love that. After all, there is no risk without reward. I need to start saying yes more.
Even Especially to things that terrify me.
After this wonderful opening, we had a live blogging session where a number of vendors, sponsored by Amazon.com grocery and gourmet foods, trotted out 16 different products for us sample and review via blog or social media. Some of the products were amazing (Fever Tree Ginger Beer, Brookside Chocolate Covered Acai Berries, and the Zico chocolate coconut water to name just a few) and others were inedible (not going to name any names here). In the end, I wound up with a full shopping bag of product to tote back to my hotel room. (Side note: by the end of the conference I have a duffel bag and 2 shopping bags full of swag! Wow!)
Next, I attended a session on building internet traffic. I have to tell you, that over the last few weeks I have been seriously thinking about discontinuing my use of videos. They are extremely time-consuming to produce and edit, the quality is not as good as I would like it to be, and I am not sure that videos are something I want to invest more time and money into improving, versus investing it in my writing and photography skills, for example. But at the beginning of this workshop, the presenter, one of the founders of Foodista.com, showed a lovely chart of where people are turning to for recipes. And what site do you think is listed in the top 3 highest growing sources of recipe content? Yep, YouTube. He then tells all the food bloggers that they better think about that.
Okay, okay. This blogger is thinking that maybe she doesn’t want to abandon her videos just yet. So I better figure out how to up my skills there. Game on.
After the workshop we had a brief break before the opening night reception and gift fair. That sounds like a fairly innocuous affair, right? Um, no. It definitely wasn’t.
First, the reception was a giant room full of wineries and some of the best restaurants in Seattle serving up bites of their amazing dishes. My favorites: the smoked scallops from Boka, the burrata from Volunteer Park Cafe, and the gnocchi from Los Alamos Winery. And let’s not forget the sipping caramel with mezcal from Hot Cakes. Oh. My. God. I was practically crawling to the door.
But wait! I haven’t even told you about the gift fair yet! This was a room full of all sorts of food goodies to take home. I walked out with 2 overstuffed bags full of things like Sahale snacks, Scharffen Berger chocolate bars, Milagro vanilla, and so much more that I’ve lost count. I am going to have to go through everything and re-appreciate each one when I get home. One of the ladies I was with weighed her bags and they were 25 lbs. together! Wow!
I stumbled back to my hotel room stuffed, a bit tipsy, and weighed down with goodies. Yet hungrily looking forward to the next day.
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