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.
I follow you on Twitter and tweeted.
I like you on Facebook!
I am always intrigued by food photography. I also think tips on cooking for only a one or two person household would be great. And money-saving tips, as well. Thanks! I also liked you on facebook.
I am sad I could not go this year, next year though I definitely plan on it! As for what I would like to see at a foodblog forum, I would like to learn more about taking good pictures when you live in a tiny apartment and do not have a lot of space for a light box and rarely has sunlight to take pictures (since I work during the day). Basically how to take better pictures with minimal supplies and time.
I’d like to see how to be a good localvore in the city with a tiny kitchen but large appetites!
I’d love to see a seminar on the best way to take food pics in the winter!! I am working with super limited light!!
Sounds like it was a wonderful event! I would have loved to attend the session on PR and working with brands. If I am able to attend another food blog conference, I hope they have a similar session!
It would be great to see cooking demos and it would be cool if each food blogger shared their favorite recipe and the collection could be put in a book for each guest to take home (or buy)
I would want to see the topic of how to make the transition from blog to other social media like Facebook and twitter. Many of the blogs I see just post a repeat of the blog onto Facebook and it seems like more could be made of the opportunity to interact on Facebook.
I like you on facebook!
I like start-to-finish demos — recipes, cooking demos, photography…. kind of a “day-in-the-life” demonstration.
And I LOVE swag bags! Hope I win!
I like you on facebook!
I’d love to see more recipes that don’t require many ingredients… Too much shopping and prep intimidates me!
I would love to see more about easy to freeze meals for a family!
Looks like you had a FABULOUS time. I’m extremely jealous of the food you got to eat!
I’d love to see a panel or someone talking about the genius involved with concocting some of the most amazing meals you’ve ever seen in blogs, things you’d never think about putting together that are just fantastic combinations and how folks stumbled upon them (original ideas, not people who found a recipe and tried it out themselves).
More about how to attract advertisers would be a good topic. Love the blog!!!!
I am also a fan on facebook
I would like to know more about the blog to cookbook process (I’m pretty sure that is often covered at conferences, but I’ve never been to one!)
I would love to attend a discussion on cooking for one. Also, I’d be interested to learn more about composting and what to do with leftovers.
i ‘like’ you on FB
I would love to attend a session on baking with whole grains and little sugar. this conference looked wonderful! congrats!
I would love to hear about low light photography (I use natural life and often have trouble creating the right lighting situations when taking pictures at night) at a Food Blog conference.
I am already a fan on Facebook :)
serving family style, preserving and canning, photography
What do you recommend for people (like me) who don’t blog (or Tweet or Tumble or whatever) exclusively – or even primarily – about food but still want to share the occasional meal or recipe? Even I can only look at so many slightly blurry iPhone pictures of things that I’ve cooked or eaten, and I’m sure that everyone else kind of heaves a sigh of “Oh, look. She’s taking pictures of her food AGAIN” when they see those posts.
I’d love to hear topics on local foods and farmer markets. Of course, I already like you on FB :)
I’d love to see healthy cooking…but without weird/expensive ingredients! Utilizing spices or upping the vegetables, etc.
And a good topic would be getting started/finding time.
I just liked you on FB
I think photography tips and tricks would be great!
What I’d like to see at blogger forum would be something about stylizing and photographing food. Now following on twitter and fb:)
Like to see feeding teenager healthy!
I am a fan on facebook too!
I would love to see a food conference covering cocktails and cupcakes :)
I would love to hear more about affordable delcious food, student priced food :)
i’m a follower on facebook also. (by the way; i’m from norway, but if I win I would like you to send the bag to one of my friends in US)
I am a fan on FB
I think a great topic would be food photography.
Gosh, what a great question. I would love to know to start explaining/teaching young people to cook. Not necessarily children, but someone right out of college or newly married. This may not be something that can be covered, but maybe ideas/steps on how to start. Thanks!
I would love to see and hear more on how to involve and help kids and teens learn to eat healthy, blog about it, and gain real kitchen skills that will last them a lifetime! (I’ve also liked you on FB. Thanks to Lesley L. in Nashville!)
I would love to hear more about urban homesteading. Us city dwelling folks would love to hear how other people are exploring natural and sustainable options with limited green space!
I’m a facebook stalker- I mean follower- already :)
Follow you on twitter and tweeted the contest :)
I’m looking forward to lots of photography workshops. My camera abilities are less abilities and more trials :)
I like you on facebook!
I’d love to see someone talk about where to draw the line between posting a tweaked recipe and plagiarism. It’s a tricky road to walk!
Recipes for one would be great for a topic!
I’d love to see the topic of how to start a food blog and the everyday how too’s of keeping the blog going-
most definitely food photography. the gift that keeps on giving long after the food has disappeared down your gullet :)
(also, already like L&OO on fb!)
I like you on Facebook!
I would love some tips and examples on how to do a good recipe tutorial on a blog. Thanks for such a fabulous giveaway!
I tweeted! I’m @Fettbot.
I would love to see Mac and Cheese glorified at a Food Forum!
And I like you on FB!
I would like to see a blog regarding the different oils to cook/bake with.
I just made some pumpkin squash soup. I had to find sugar pumpkins and
some winter/ butternut squash…
and with the butter the recipe called for an oil that was neutrol oil. one that would not alter the taste of the dish.
I would like to know the uses and differences of olive oil/ grape seed oil/ canola oil/ vegetable oils.
And how to use them and when to use them.
I love ‘Love and Olive Oil’ and all that you do.
Thank you for bringing us all the wonderful recipes and the adventures that you go on. Not to mention the events that you are part of!!
We love Love and Olive Oil.
Hmmm. How to get a blog started, food photography, and locavore ideas. Vegetarian, too, as I’m not much of a meat eater!
I follow on Facebook.
Sounds like an amazing event. I would like to learn about photography and food styling.
I would love to see a panel about how to start a successful food blog!
I love to bake and have recently begun to try to find alternatives for butter, refined sugar, and the like. I would love for there to be a healthy baking food convention!
I follow @loveandoliveoil on Twitter and just RTed I just entered to win an epic swag bag from @foodblogforum and @loveandoliveoil! Enter here: http://bit.ly/mTAPrX!
Nashville sounds like it was wonderful! I would love to attend a session about food photography composition.
suggestions for cooking for those with health problems – allergies, etc
I love photography workshops and would also love to see a panel that just had bloggers & their unusual, but effective, cooking tips/how they learned what they know now about food.
Thanks for the giveaway!
& liked on facebook!
I’m a Facebook fan!
I’d love a discussion on the pro’s and con’s of posting photos of every single little step in every single recipe posted on so many blogs. They take a lot of time to load (for those of us with a bit slower connections) and they do get so boring. On the other hand, they are helpful to the novice cook.
Would love to win. Love your blog.
already like you on FB!!
It would be interesting to see a class on food photography – the artistry of making food look fabulous. Love your blog!
Cooking cheaply, like on a college student budget how to take Ramen and make something better with it.
Following you on facebook.
I tweeted the giveaway & follow you on twitter @missnthekitchen
I subscribe via email.
I would like more instruction on lighting for use with a point and shoot camera.
Also – Just friended you on Facebook! (Gluten Free Blondie)
I’d like to hear more about easy make-ahead dinners or meals-on-the-go! My schedule for the next few months just got super busy, so I’m scrambling trying to think ahead about my meals. Trying to stay away from fast food :)
Um, I would love to just GO to a food blog conference, so any topic related to, you know, food blogging, would be great. But if I HAD to pick – I’m really interested in anything gluten free, and at the moment pretty intrigued by measuring in volume vs. weight.
I wanted to attend this so bad. I live in WY and it was just too far and during one of our busiest weeks of the year. By all accounts it was totally worthwhile, so great job!
I would love to attend a conference and learn more about the topics that you covered plus a little more about the business of blogging and the steps to expand.
I would be interested in a discussion on the ethics of posting recipes from copywrited sources.
Liked on Facebook!
I would love to hear about DIY backdrops for food photography!
I need to build my knowledge of the tech side of things. SEO, tags, and a whole bunch of things I feel like I need to wrap my brain around to take advantage of the them. :)
I would like to hear about how people gracefully pick up the virtual pen after an absence! It happens to all of us, and I feel like I say the same thing, apologizing, and it’s silly! Good transitions make a blog feel so much more professional *sigh*
And I like L&OO on Facebook already! :-)
Liked you on FB
I’m a fan on Facebook too!
I would like to see more information about local, sustainable food sources being used but in a creative way that doesn’t make the blogger appear to have no interest in taste. I have a garden and I love to buy from local growers but I also like to cook. I admit, I don’t just eat to live…sometimes I like to live to eat a really well made meal that is seasonal and local but full of creativity and flavor. Great giveaway and what a great conference it looked like. Can’t wait til next year to come.
Follow you on Twitter and just tweeted!
I would have loved to have attended FBF Nashville just to meet all of my fave Nashville food bloggers! If I had a food blog, I would want to see more on ideas for meals for 2 and canning.
fan of you on facebook
follow you on twitter and tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/cjsorel/status/123573107825971200
more blogging about getting healthy food to the the family for dads.
I would like to learn more about recipe development.
I’d like to see more tips on food photography. I really liked seeing the food blog conference tho. Looked like lots of fun.
Awesome blog, I would love to see the topic of food waste covered whether it’s turning leftovers into a new dish, using every bit of every ingredient (as much as is edible, anyway) or any other ideas!
I’d love to see blogs specifically tailored to working with children in the kitchen. Thanks!
omg what a fabulous post! I appreciate all of your hard work and have to tell you Congrats on such as fabulous conference! I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to speak, and I enjoyed the entire conference so very much! Y’all had everything covered, and it was so well done! Thanks for including me in this post!
How to can and how to get your own blog started!
P.S. I liked you on Facebook!
I got my tweet on!
I would like to see some layer cake baking and making demos. From how to get the layers even and level to frosting it without the crumbs showing through.