>> Sunday, March 25, 2012 – Events
Food Blog Forum is produced by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, Todd and Diane of White On Rice Couple, July Deily of The Little Kitchen and Dawn Viola.
I had been to the first one that was held last year in Orlando, which was a memorable experience for me, as I have grown in leaps and bounds since then. So, when I read that Food Blog Forum was hosting another event in Orlando, I was so excited to sign up. Unfortunately, I thought I had missed the deadline by a day and it was totally booked out. However, my spirits weren’t dampened for long, as July Deily of The Little Kitchen emailed me back swiftly telling me that I could still register and I did so immediately.
The venue for the event was Walt Disney World Resort. Most of the bloggers stayed at Disney's Polynesian Resort. The welcome reception was held at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa by Walt Disney World.
It started with a welcome reception on Friday afternoon where I had the chance to see fellow food bloggers I had met the year before, Julius of Droolius, Wandy of My Sweet Zepol, Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen and Christine of Cook The Story, while meeting new bloggers, Julia of The Novice Chef, Suzanne of Kokocooks, Lana of Never Enough Thyme, Ann of Healthy Cooking For Me, Robyn of Grill Grrrl and Chris of Eat Local Orlando. We were having such a good that a few of us actually closed it down.
|Salads Hanging in Martini glasses!|
|Asian Chicken Salad|
|Mac and Cheese with Pancetta and Mushrooms|
|Mango Haupa Verrines|
|Blood Orange Timbale|
The following morning, we all headed over to Epcot for the event.
|Entrance to Epcot|
Before the event started, we enjoyed a breakfast buffet to get sustenance for the morning ahead.
|Banger and Mash|
|Egg White Frittata|
Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, opened the event. I was intrigued, inspired, touched and moved. They shared their passion, story and work, reminding us that every picture has a story.
“Your story is unique. Believe in your story!” and “Your eyes are your lenses. Your heart is the shutter!” "What you capture is unique. Don’t wait!” They had some of us in tears during their session.They have made me think twice about the pictures that I will now choose in the future.
|Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple|
Jaden Hair, Rachel Barbarotta of KitchenAid, Arianna Bastianini of OXO and Tom Smith of Walt Disney World Resorts gave us pointers on how to form a relationship with brands and what they are looking for. Be passionate about your own brand. Do not be afraid of being persistent. Approach brands more than once. So don’t be disillusioned if it doesn’t work out the first time around.
|Right to left, Rachel Barbarotta of KitchenAid, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, Arianna Bastianni of OXO and Thomas Smith of Walt Disney World Resort|
|KitchenAid - See that blender on the right! I won one!|
|OXO Showcase - We certainly got some lovely gifts from them in our goodie bags!|
David Leite of Leite's Culinaria also left a serious impression on me. His title was “How to Write Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Posts”.
He reminded us that enough is NEVER enough. Think fiction. Write non-fiction. Be a storyteller. He also suggested that we should get the book Grammar for Dummies and read it from back to front and then all over again. I will certainly take heed and get that book before the end of the week!
|David Leite of Leite's Culinaria|
We were treated to a leisurely Taste of Disney luncheon, which was interesting as it was delicious. There was something for everyone and more. I had initially thought that 2 hours for lunch was going to be long, but once I got to the venue, I understood and time went by quicker than I had imagined.
Dawn Viola took us from taking our blog from a hobby to turning it into a business. A piece of advice: Also, use your blog as a professional writing platform. “Pitch what you love” while “building trust and credibility”.
I was most excited to start off my first session with Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. She was the reason that I first wanted to start blogging, she was such an inspiration, so you can just imagine how thrilled I was to meet her. Elise gave us advice on copyright issues. Reminding us to acknowledge the source, re-writing things in your own words and ask for permission before posting someone else’s recipe.
|Roasted Red Beet Salad with Field Greens, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans|
|Epcot Land Pavillion Sweet Greens with Vero Beach Arugula and Red Watercress|
|Seared Salmon with Couscous, Broccoli and Hummus - Chef Al Hopkins|
|Slow Roasted Bourbon Induced Black Pig Heritage Pork Tenderloin Slider and Super Grain Fries - Chef Damon Lauder|
After lunch we had four 30 minute round table sessions with experts of our choice.
|Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. Was I happy to meet her at long last!|
Then on to Scott Hair, who helped with moving your blog to a .com, by going through all the steps that need to be taken on the back end of things.
David Leite suggested sexy provocative posts, starting with a line that is the killer. Captivating your audience and being authentic is of utmost importance.
My final session was with Diane of White on Rice Couple and Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille who gave us a live styling and photography demonstration.
|Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille teaching us tips on food styling|
|Right to Left, Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple and Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille|
Although the event had come to an end, I was quite happy. Not only did I meet some interesting people, but also left with my hands laden. A great goodie bag and also a 5 speed KitchenAid blender, that I had won. Now how lucky was I?
On the way back to the hotel, Christine of Cook the Story and I had the pleasure of talking to David of Leite’s Culinaria.
Looking back, the day had been such a success in more ways than one. Julie of The Little Kitchen had organized such a wonderful event, as usual. Being able to meet some of the heavy weights in the food blogging industry who shared their knowledge with openness and kindness, as well as meeting new bloggers like, Ashley Pardo of The Grizzly Kitchen, LaTonya of Haute Cookture, Rashmi of The Primlani Kitchen, Carroll of Vanilla Lemonade, Kelly of Just a Taste, Sally of Cooking Lessons and Jessica of Chef Jessica Bright.
The day had come to an end, but the evening was still ahead…
As if the day wasn't eventful enough, we were all invited to a private dessert party at Epcot Center where we watched IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It was a spectacular way to end the day, fireworks! I actually sneaked out a bit early to view the rest of the show with my husband!
On Sunday morning, we headed to Orlando Whole Foods Market who put on a spread for the brunch they sponsored. More goodie bags and gifts were handed out.
|Tomasa Spinach & Cheese Empanadas, Quiche, Tofu Scramblers and Thompson Fram 5 Plus Step Rated Sausages|
|Brunch at Orlando Whole Foods Market, with Scott Hair|
|Diane Cu, myself and Todd Porter of White On Rice Couple|
It was a memorable weekend where I met new friends and know that I have learnt some invaluable information which will allow me to grow and excel as a blogger. Thank you Food Blog Forum!
|Goodies from my Goodie Bag and my KitchenAid Blender! How lucky was I?|