As you may know, I am a big fan of the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) that was held again this year in Seattle, Washington. Every year I have a great time while learning, growing, and networking with fellow bloggers. The friends and connections I’ve made at the conferences over the years have proven to be both inspirational and invaluable. On top of that, it is a whole lot of fun! Here is my recap from this year’s IFBC.
The conference started out with several incredible optional excursions that I was sadly unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. Thankfully, I made it in time to the official opening that took place on Friday night with the ‘Gift Suite’ and ‘Taste of Seattle’ reception. The gift suite is everyone’s favorite part of the conference. What’s not to like about an endless table of swag accompanied by even more tables full of good food and wine? It was a great chance to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Highlights of this year’s opening party were Hama Hama Oysters, Aramandino Batali’s Salumi (yes, Mario’s Dad), and Skycity Restaurant among others. After that, it was off to bed (at least for me) to feel rested for a busy Saturday.
Saturday began with breakfast provided by Stonyfield Yogurt. After a brief welcome to the conference, we were treated to this year’s keynote speaker, Kim Severson, New York Times food reporter and author. Every year the IFBC presents an excellent keynote speaker. I was wondering how they would top last year’s speaker, but they did! Kim Severson’s keynote was so enjoyable that I didn’t want it to end. But end it did, and I was off ready to dive into the day’s sessions.
The hardest part of attending the sessions is deciding which one to attend. I opted to start out with ‘How to Create Standout Holiday Content’ presented by Irvin Lin of the blog Eat the Love, and food stylist, Sarah Flotard. This presentation was hosted by Anolon. I came away with lots of tips and inspiration in addition to an Anolon crepe pan (score!). After that session, I kept the energy going by attending the ‘Stop Motion Food Photography’ workshop presented by Todd Coleman, whom I met at last year’s conference. It was exciting to see how the ‘short stop’ motion videos that are popping up everywhere are made (not to mention how easily). After a break for lunch everyone attended ‘Writing, Food Photography and Prop Styling’ presented by ‘The New York Times’ best-selling author, Andie Mitchell (“Can You Stay For Dinner”), author, food photographer and food stylist, Aran Goyoaga (“Cannelle et Vanille”), and blogger/prop stylist, Jenn Elliott Blake (“A Blog Named Scout”). After that hour of inspiration, I had the most difficult decision to make yet. Should I attend: ‘Bubbles and Bites’, a sparkling wine session by Franciacorta and Stoneburner Restuarant ; ‘Curriculamb 101’, a lamb class presented by American Lamb and hosted by Tracy Smaciarz of Heritage Meats and chefs Ethan Stowell and Thom Koshwanez from Ethan Stowell Restaurants; or, a wine education seminar presented by Concannon Vineyard & Winery. As a long time fan of ‘Concannon’ wines, I opted for that seminar. After that final session of the day, I was ready for some fun (not that I wasn’t having way too much fun already).
Fun was the next thing on the agenda. The attendees were greeted with a wine tasting reception by Trione Winery, Fanciacorta, and Concannon. It was very welcome after a long day of sessions. If it had ended there it would have been enough, but the wine reception was just a prelude to the Saturday night ‘Culinary Fair and Expo’. To me, this was the highlight of the conference with more food, wine, and cocktails, but most of all, a chance to connect with conference sponsors. It might seem like too much of a good thing, but not to a bunch of food bloggers.
On the final day of the conference we were treated to breakfast by Bays English Muffins, and given a very enthusiastic and informative demo by the founder, George Bay. After breakfast, I attended what turned out, for me, to be the two best sessions of the conference. ‘The Plan and The Pitch’ was a primer on how to pitch for print and online outlets, working with editors, and much more. The session (hosted by Tara Austen Weaver, author and editor of Edible Seattle, writer Naomi Tomky, and author/editor Sara Dickerman) was very informative. After that, I attended ‘Hungry for Words: Journalism 101 for Food Bloggers’ by award-winning author and former journalist, Kathleen Flinn. If you are interested in food writing, I would strongly recommend following Kathleen Flinn and seeking out her great advice via her website or on Twitter.
How do you end a dynamic food and information crammed weekend? This year we were treated to the work of renowned food photographer, Christopher Testani. I am sorry we only had an hour for this session as, once again, we were provided with another chance to learn from a leading figure in the business. But alas, all good things must come to an end and the conference closed, but not before announcing the location of next year’s conference.
I have so much fun at IFBC that I start getting excited about the next one before this year’s is even over. Next year’s event is being held in nearby Sacramento in the heart of California’s rich agricultural region. Besides the usual focus on food, writing, and technology, next year’s conference will include topics such as the ‘farm to fork’ movement, sustainability, and ethical modern farming practices. I’m also thinking California wine, California cuisine and Sacramento’s burgeoning restaurant scene will be highlighted. Food, writing and technology with a massive portion of fun…hurry up and get here IFBC 2016!