What started as a seed of an idea early last spring, grew into something more than we could have ever imagined. Months of planning culminated this weekend in a whirlwind of a day filled with fabulous friends, food, knowledge, and connections. It was an immense success and well worth the effort that it took to plan it.
The fun began on Friday night with “A Taste of Tennessee” hosted by the Nashville Farmers’ Market. A dozen local vendors sampled their wares, from Loveless Cafe and their out of this world fried chicken and biscuits, to Perl Catering, who made what just might be the most delicious bite of spaghetti squash I’ve ever eaten. Olive & Sinclair brought a sneak peek of their newest products, buttermilk white chocolate and smoked brittle (omg). Corsair Artisan distillery offered a lovely blood orange and gin cocktail. I’m not a lemon-bar kind of girl but the lemon bars from O.Liv Body Bar made me happy from the inside out. Bathtub Gin’s preserves are always creative, and while I didn’t catch what exactly their little tomato jam-pastry bites were called, I may have eaten a few. Just a few. And cheese. Because I love me some cheese (and Kathleen at the Bloomy Rind never disappoints!). For dessert? Gotta get a Goo Goo Cluster (me? I love the peanut butter one best!)
While I’m not a beer drinker or a slaw-eater, the souvenir beer glasses that Yazoo had made just for us were, like totally awesome, and Mista Dale’s spicy slaw was something I can definitely get behind. I AM, however, a wine drinker (albeit a beginner), and found the blackberry wine from Grinder’s Switch quite delightful. Who says Tennessee isn’t wine country?
The market house is so pretty at night. Even more so when it’s full of good friends, both old and new.
We were also treated to a chef demo by the always entertaining Arnold Myint. Assisted by the lovely Grishma, Arnold prepared some delicious dishes including lentil tacos and pumpkin soup. Um, yum?
Saturday, bright and early. After a near epic disaster involving some coffee makers and non-functioning power outlets (lesson: don’t EVER get in the way of food bloggers and their coffee), the real event began.
A packed house. 94 of us in all. The fact that each and every one of them went home with a door prize really says a lot about the generosity of our sponsors. I really felt like Oprah. You get a toaster! And you get a toaster! Everyone gets a toaster! (or KitchenAid, or cookware, or some other nifty kitchen gadget or gift). But enough about parties and prizes… we did some learning too.
The lovely Amanda, Jaden, and Arianna talking candidly about PR and working with brands. It was wonderful to hear about PR from multiple perspectives, both bloggers AND brands, and the session offered some great insight into how we all can get the most out of working with each other.
Listening to Kelly and Alison, you’d think they had been working together for years. But in fact, they hadn’t met before this event. Such beautiful women with so much information to share.
Meanwhile, Jenny and Amanda were upstairs talking about Blogging Etiquette. You know those times when you wish you could be in two places at once? Yeah. This was definitely one of them.
By that point, the collective rumble of our stomachs was pretty darn loud. Luckily, there was deliciousness on wheels waiting for us outside at the Food Truck Court!
Happy Eating served up some fabulous japanese treats. The mongolian beef tacos were especially scrumptious. And the caramel pocky ice cream? Don’t get me started. It’s life changing.
Always a favorite, Carlos and BJ of Riffs were there serving up their twist on Bahn Mi sandwiches and Shrimp & Grits. You know I love shrimp and grits. Jaden even called it the best grits she’s ever had! I have to agree.
And last but certainly not least, Yayo’s OMG! (stands for Original Mexican Gourmet, but the exclamation certainly fits the food as well.) Serving up mini pork and chicken taco bites and freshly fried tortilla chips with some sort of magic sauce. They were gone so quickly I’m surprised I had time to snap a picture. *crunch*
Back inside. Where the food coma could easily have gotten the best of us…
Leave it to Todd & Diane to bring energy to a dark room right after lunch. I don’t think there was a droopy eye in the room. Their passion and creativity are incredibly contagious. It wasn’t hard to leave feeling energized and inspired.
The final session of the day was a unique one, which gave attendees the opportunity to speak more personally with our speakers and experts. From photography to recipe development, blog design (from yours truly!) to SEO and social media, the choice of topics was impressive.
Phew. Tired yet? Considering I had been up since 5:45am I should have been, but there was so much energy in the room that the exhaustion simply disappeared. I was running on excitement and adrenaline.
Good thing, too, because we weren’t done yet.
The Saturday after-party took us to The Patterson House, one of Nashville’s coolest bars, even cooler now after so generously hosting this event for us. They really outdid themselves.
Those, my friends, are fried goat cheese balls. I could have sat in a corner with a plate of these and been perfectly content. But I didn’t, because I was too busy further reinforcing the friendships that until now, had only existed on twitter. If I had to take just one thing from this event, that would be it. The people. The beautiful, inspiring, smart, sassy, creative, wonderful people.
The lovely ladies of Food Blog Forum. From left: Beth, Leah, Jaden, some bum, and Diane.
This event did not happen on it’s own. It took many many hours to make everything come together as well as it did. I couldn’t have done it without my partners in crime, Beth and Leah. I don’t know if I’ve met anyone more organized than Beth. She was always one step ahead. And Leah? Let’s just say that we wouldn’t have had 2/3 of the prizes and swag that we did without her. Not to mention a place to put it all.
I also want to, once again, thank our sponsors for supporting this event.
OXO, Just a Pinch, Calphalon, Girard’s, Nashville Farmers’ Market, The Patterson House, Magazines.com, Chicago Metallic, Swissmar, Whole Foods Market, Farm Flavor, Kitchen Aid, Artisan Books, The Loveless Cafe, Lindsay Olives, Goo Goo Clusters, Amco Houseworks, Edgeware, Nashville Toffee Company, WestBend, Jarlsberg, Beanilla, Lifetime Brands, and Betsy’s Cheese Straws.
And finally, thank you to everyone who came. From those who traveled from afar, to those who just drove down the street. Your smiles and enthusiasm are what made it all worthwhile. I hope you went home with a new motivation, a bit of inspiration, and a whole lot of swag. :)
Enough with the sappy Oscar acceptance speech… I’ve got a surprise for you!
For those of you who couldn’t make it to the event, whether you had other commitments or it was just too far away, are probably feeling kind of bummed out right now. I know, I’ve been there. Seeing all the tweets and photos and posts about what a fabulous event it was, it’s easy to feel left out.
Would a super duper, stuffed to the brim, bag of swag make you feel any better?
I bet it would!
Since we ended the day with a few extra swag bags, we thought we’d give you the opportunity to win one for yourself! Not to brag or anything, but this just might be the best swag bag in the history of swag bags. Trust me.
And I’ve got two of them to give away.
You know you want one.
***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***
Simply leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question:
What is a topic you’d like to see covered at a food blog conference?
Entries open through Friday, October 14 at 11:59 CST. I’ll be randomly selecting the winner the morning of Saturday, October 15th. Prize will be shipped to the winner directly from yours truly. Because of the sheer weight of this swag bag and the perishable nature of some of its contents, I am limiting this giveaway to US Residents ONLY.
Want Extra Entries?
Increase your odds of winning! In addition to the main entry comment, leave a separate comment for each bonus entry.
1. Follow @loveandoliveoil on twitter and tweet the following:
I just entered to win an epic swag bag from @foodblogforum and @loveandoliveoil! Enter here: http://bit.ly/mTAPrX
2. Like Love & Olive Oil on Facebook (or if you are already a fan just say so!)
(Two extra entries not enough? Stay tuned to Beth and Leah’s blogs in the coming days, as they’ll be hosting their own swag-ulous giveways too!)
Be sure you enter a valid email address, because if your name is drawn and I can’t get a hold of you within 48 hours, I will choose an alternate winner. You may also want to add me to your address book (lindsay AT loveandoliveoil DOT com), as I’d hate for your congratulatory email to end up in the spam folder.
Great event, I met some really nice folks, learned lots and had lots of laughs. My food blog, foodonfifth.com is in it’s 3rd year and is an extension of my work as a food stylist and artist and food lover, so it was great to know there are so many other folks in Nashville who are kindred spirits. Very well put together event. Best regards, Teresa
Man you’re thorough! Great post, Lindsay. Thanks for the shoutout to my recap, too!
I just have to say, the Oprah line about toasters had me loling. :D
I am a current facebook fan (Rust Hawk).
I’m following you on twitter and tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/rusthawk/status/125068962219298817
I so enjoyed reading this post and seeing all of the bloggers I know by visiting their blogs. I’m interested in this new(ish) paleo choice of foods.
Lighting and styling techniques, monetization, design, building & supporting community, and more!!! Fun! xx
Already followed you on Facebook and Twitter :) Food styling would be my topic of choice!
I would love to see a sessiin on food styling tips.
Fermentation/preservation, my biggest food interest these days!
I also like you on Facebook & follow you on Twitter, but tweeting from my phone is tough!
Safe food handling. It’s not fun and it’s not sexy but it is important. As more food bloggers experiment with sous vide, fermentation, canning and other potentially hazardous prep processes I’d like to know that there’s some science behind what they are teaching the masses.
Food preservation definitely.
I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/soonerpsych/status/125045816653135876
I can’t afford a dSLR, so I’d love to see a food photography session for point & shoot cameras.
I’d love to see how to find your own voice and how make it work for your blog.
I follow you on Twitter and I just tweeted here: http://twitter.com/#!/omnivore100proj/status/125044329537474560
I’d love to see some food photography tricks & tips!
Ever since I discovered your blog, I have been eating with my eyes everyday. Mon Dieu, vraiment delicieux!!!!
I would like to see how food blogs can relate to the environment–slow food, local food, organic food, fair trade, etc. How can food blogs help advocate for better use of the wonderful resources that our earth provides.
I’d like to hear about the challenges of maintaining a blog where you post once or more a day — how do you continually post thoughtful, relevant content when life is clamoring for your attention? How do you get out of ruts when all you want to eat for a week is PB&J? ;)
I also liked y’all on Facebook. :)
I’m also already a fan on Facebook!
Liked you on FB!
Food photography – sometimes it is so hard to make a meal that tastes so delicious look as enjoyable as it really is!
I’d love to attend a session on healthy cooking for those that don’t have time to cook during the week AND don’t want to spend all day Sunday in the kitchen.
I tweeted about it: http://twitter.com/PoetInThePantry/status/124845103528427521
I already like you on FB!
I’d like to see discussion about the legal issues: CYA, so to speak, since we’re in such a litigious society. I know I have a statement on my page that I cobbled together from what I gleaned, but an expert’s opinion would be helpful.
I follow on Twitter & shared the contest :)
I follow on FB!
I “liked” Love & Olive Oil on Facebook for an extra entry!
I just Tweeted for an extra entry! @closetobliss
Looks like it was a GREAT experience. I would definitely be interested in the discussions on marketing and PR. :)
I’d love to see photography tips for those who don’t have the heavy-duty, expensive, Mama Jammas of cameras!
So wish I could have attended! I’d love to learn more about these topics, especially photography!
I would love to see more healthy family or kid friendly ideas covered at a food blog conference.
I’d love to hear about blog design. I know a lot of people hire out for someone to redesign their blog, but for people like me who can code, I’d love some help on what design aspects look better, etc.
I would love to hear more about food photography and vegetarian cooking! Plus about bloggers turned cookbook writers! :) Hope everything is going well with you and Taylor!
I’d be interested in seeing more about chocolate and chocolate baking.
I’d like to see more on vegetarian cooking.
I’d like to see more about cooking smaller meals (for one or two) and on a budget. I’m a recent college grad and can’t always afford the fancy stuff some bloggers cook, but I still like to try new things! Especially new healthy things
I need help with how to store a garden’s bounty! I let so much go too bad every summer because I don’t know what to do with it all…or how to store it fast enough to enjoy all year.
I would love to see more on engaging children, photography and more demos.
I would like to see more cooking demos.
I would vote for transitioning from a personal food blog to more ‘mainstream’ media- Hear from folks who got cookbook deals (like you!) or magazine columns (or even guest articles), etc. And definitely food photography!
more on food photography.
I would really love to hear what you have to say for college students – being one myself, I’m just getting into this whole cooking thing (but I love it!)… my budget is pretty modest, but I still would like to eat well and get better at cooking. Really trying to fight that whole “college students just eat Raman noodles” stereotype.
Anyway, a nice meal that doesn’t cost too much… and, you know, might impress a cute guy. :P
Either way, I’m just curious what magic you’ll cook up.
Just “liked” you on Facebook!
I tweeted @momandcamera: “I just entered to win an epic swag bag from @foodblogforum and @loveandoliveoil! Enter here: http://bit.ly/mTAPrX“
I love more info on the art of styling!
I would like to see, provided it is a pro medical marijuana state, more recipes using these oils and yet still taste good. : )
Tweeted – @chocolatemoosey
Fan on FB!
Food photography. I’m getting better at it, but sometimes I have trouble staging something not so pretty. Also foodgawker and tastespotting keep rejecting me.
And I like you on Facebook!
I follow you on Twitter and I just tweeted!
Photography is always a good session but I would like to learn more about connecting with sponsors. It looks like you had a great conference. Wish I could have attended.:)
sounds like a blast! i would like to see more flavorful gluten-free recipes covered. thanks!
I am a fan on Facebook.
I guess I would be interested in having a discussion more about learning and teaching basic cooking techniques.
Also! I’m already a fan on Facebook! <3
I tweeted! @PlaguedLeech is me
I’d like to see canning become a part of a Food blog conference.
I’ve been a FB fan for a while. Love, love, love your blog.
Another culinary memory: my mother making home made pizzas and each of us 5 kids got our own – in a pie pan!
Food photography and home canning would be really interesting. I really hope something like this comes to my area soon. I would love the chance to learn.
I follow you on facebook.
I follow you on twitter @sharonjo2
I’d like a feature on finding the proper balance between blogging and managing the rest of your life.
I would love to see something about cooking healthy, simple meals for just one or two people! Great giveaway :)
I couldn’t go, so I would really like to win! OK, I would like a pros and cons of cameras, from pocket point and shoot varieties to big SLR.
I went to the little Fermentation Workshop at Beaman Park instead. It was sweet, and I learned a lot! I am definitely going to make better vinegar, yogurt and kim chi!
Thanks you 2!
LannaeLong at yahoo
I follow you on Twitter & tweeted!
I am a fan on Facebook!
Food photography most definitely! Thanks for the giveaway!!
Photo tips/demos/etc. An SLR is on my holiday wish list and I’d love to learn more about take great photos. Also, cooking for large groups–tips for prepping, ensuring that everything is ready at the same time, how to choose recipes wisely, etc, when you’re cooking for more than just 2 or 4 folks.
I would like to hear about the process of olive oil and learn how to pick a good extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking organic, healthy food with a budget!
littlegray88 at yahoo dot com
Using seasonal ingredients and supporting sustainable methods of procuring and raising produce.
Do you think it’s better to have a blog ‘theme’ (sweets, recipes from magazines, vegetarian) or is it better to have a variety of recipes for a larger audience?
Thank you – and I am already a fan on FB!
I absorb everything about food and cooking, my cooking videos would be nice
I would love to see more on involving kids,getting them out into the gardens and into the kitchens,growing food,making(or at least help in the process somehow)of making a meal.knowing what real food is.These are the next generation of creative food bloggers and food artist.
I would love more hands on photography stuff. Like putting together a composition and critiquing it.
honestly everything at this conference sounds perfect–i can’t think of a thing to add! wish i could’ve attended!
Im also a Facebook follower!
Definitely food photography. Styling is still not my strong point.
I would like to see more step by step photo food blogging taught at a conference.
and I’m a fan on facebook now! (love your blog & the fact that you often have local & vegetarian focuses, have been reading it for a while now)
This may be pretty common at food blog conferences, but photography tips are always great!
I’m also a fan on Facebook!
I tweeted! https://twitter.com/#!/sallaboutme/status/124128574591598592
I would like to see a session on making easier conversions between weight and other measurements. It’s so much better to use weight, but not everyone has access to a scale, so converting back and forth between the two would be great help on both sides.
I follow you on twitter & tweeted:
I just tweeted the giveaway @mypinkmixerblog
I’d like to see more about baking breads from a starter, cooking for 2, and kitchen gardening.
I would love a class on food photography and food styling.
I also like Love and Olive Oil on Facebook
I’d love to see more on vegetarian food for non-vegetarians! I eat vegetarian most of the time, and am always looking for meals that I can entice my non-vegetarian boyfriend and friends with!