November 29, 2009 · 33 comments

Food Bloggers Connect 2009

in Blogger Events

Not so long after I joined up to Twitter I had a lovely email from Jamie (writer of the amazing Life’s A Feast blog) asking me if I’d like to attend a blogging event in London; I was stunned, me, invited to a blogging meet up. Fabulous; how could I turn that down? Of course I couldn’t so I began to get planning — travelling, getting the time off work and above all, what I was going to where – I could feel a shopping spree coming on.

Saturday 28th November came round rather quickly, and dressed in my new attire I headed off for London; the first visit to London in around 20 years (yes I was a small child when I last went) and I was headed for a real surprise, never in my wildest dreams was I prepared for how busy it actually was. Now I’ve done city breaks, visited many capitols around the world but never has anything compared to Oxford Street; crazy didn’t come close. Despite the busyness the Tube was actually a pleasant enough experience; although; again thank goodness for iPhone apps as without Tube Deluxe planning my route I could have ended up someplace I didn’t want to be quite easily.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

The event in point was the first Food Bloggers Connect meeting. It had all come about because the excellent bloggers, Bethany from Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Jamie from Life’s a Feast, Mowie from Mowielicious and Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry witnessed the buzz around this year’s plethora of US-based food blogger events, thought bloggers this side of the pond deserved a similar event and began organising. What an amazing job they did too.

The meeting was to be held at Levant, a Lebanese restaurant not far from Oxford Street London. Lebanese food is one of my favourite cuisines so that had to be a sign that this was going to be great. What a nightmare though for the restaurant having all these food bloggers and aspiring critics/writers descending upon them. I have to say the staff were excellent though, very attentive and helpful.

The food was stunning, every last bite delicious but one thing rather baffled me, how, oh how, do they manage to keep their pitta breads so puffy and fresh? Mine look grand when the come straight out the oven but go flat (nevertheless still yummy) within minutes. The secret Levant please?

Other mezze items included hummus, ground spiced nut paste, spicy chicken pilaff, challah (or at least I think it was challah) bread, kibbeh and many other mouth watering delights. If I’ve whet your appetite why not have a look at their menus? It’s certainly a restaurant I’d love to revisit.

We mingled as we ate, but, to be honest there wasn’t enough time to really get to meet and greet enough of our fellow bloggers. This is something that has been noticed by the majority of us and something the FBC team are working on for our next event; oh how I hope I can attend.

As soon as the mezze was cleared away, mint tea and mini baklava and Turkish delight (and some other yummy mouthfuls of which the name I’m unsure) were brought to our attention.

Now the nibbles were nice enough but the pouring of the mint tea, now that was an art form. We bloggers watched, mesmerised for a millisecond and then the scrum to grab our cameras and get a piece of the action occurred.

Now for a clearer shot:

After the tea and sweet bites it was time for the speakers. The topics covered included food styling, photography, writing styles, copyright and social media; or should I say life in the fish tank Kang?

Meeta made photography and food styling seem so easy and I’ve begun to put some of her principles in action today with this photo of orange cordial (recipe coming up in a couple of days time).

Jamie and Jeanne talked very openly about their writing styles and where their influences come from but as they pointed out, the key to blog success is to be yourself, find your target audience and work with it. Having fun is vital though, blogging should never be a real pain to do even though the most dedicated may still find themselves coming to face the dreaded writers block from time to time. Another topic covered was website design, no not how to do it yourself but some key issues relating to how it affects blog readership. As with job interviews first impressions are vital, clean lines, easy navigation and above all easy to read text are vital, a good dash of photography makes a site easy on the eye too. All good points for me to keep in mind as my blog design process continues.

Whilst all the talks were really useful and detailed I personally found Kang’s (from London Eater) presentations the most beneficial — the one on photography in the low light conditions surely must have been written with me in mind as that is my area of weakness right now.

Having just begun dipping my toes dived right into the Internet fish tank that is Social Media Kang really brought the value of it home in his talk — it is not just a fun tool but a really useful one too. A great way to get to know like minded folks and a great way for them to get to know you. Your blog becomes your brand, and in effect you have to sell yourself.

After the event our lovely host Bethany handed out some gorgeous goodie bags brimming with Malden sea salt, smoked salt, cheese, panettone, hemp seeds, mixed seeds (I can sense some bread needs baking soon) amongst other items, all in a lovely cloth bag emblazoned with Dirty Kitchen Secrets on it.

There certainly was a lot to cram into a short space of time but hey we did it and we had fun too. Now to start looking forward to the next meet up!

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) November 30, 2009 at 17:09

George thanks for a lovely review. It was lovely to meet you and so awesome that you were able to attend! We are definitely extending the time for the next one and look forward to having you there.

I can already see that you are applying Meeta and Kangs tips and hints successfully! Well done!

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George@CulinaryTravels November 30, 2009 at 17:17

Thank you so much for the wonderful event, it was amazing.

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Bridgett November 30, 2009 at 17:10

Sounds like you had a perfectly lovely time. I can’t imagine working my way through a crowd like that, wow. The food looks and sounds amazing and I am happy to hear you enjoyed your visit with your fellow bloggers.

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:22

I did have an amazing time. That photo actually looks rather tame compared to what it was like on Saturday (honest).

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Anna November 30, 2009 at 18:28

George, what a great write up the food looks amazing! Glad you had a good time!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:23

It was a fabulous day, thank you.

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Meeta December 1, 2009 at 09:56

hahaha! i feel like a mum teaching her kids the steps! i love it! geroge i wish we had more time and wish you had come up to talk to me. thank you for being there and glad you found my tips helpful – that picture look grand!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:23

Thank you, your talk really was fabulous – I learnt a lot.

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Sunita December 1, 2009 at 09:58

Lovely recap of the event George :-)

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:24

Thank you, but it all feels too long ago now.

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Jamie December 1, 2009 at 09:58

George, great write up and beautiful pictures (love the orange cordial shot!) and it was truly an amazing day! The speakers all inspired me, none more than Meeta, and we will all be rushing home and analyzing and improving our blogs. Your new design is great!

So glad you came and enjoyed it so much! Next time come up to me and say “Jamie! It’s me!” I so wanted to meet you finally! Well, there is the next one!!!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:24

Jamie I promise we will meet at the next one, such a shame we missed each other this time around. You’re right though we’ll all be analysing our posts and blog designs with such scrutiny now ;)

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Hilda December 1, 2009 at 15:34

George, I’m so glad I met you, even if it was just for a minute! and what a lovely write-up of it all. I’m so delighted you had a good time and came away with good info. We’re working on making the next one even better!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:24

It was lovely to meet you too, next time we must make more time to chat though.

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Jeanne December 1, 2009 at 17:05

Great write-up, and I’m glad that our presentation provided some food for thought! Mmmm, your photos of the food are bringing back some tasty memories :) It truly was a wonderful afternoon filled with smart, funny, passionate people and I think we’re all looking forward to the next one now!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:25

Jeanne You’re right it was a wonderful and very inspiring afternoon, I’m certainly looking forward to the next one, dates already pencilled in my diary

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Lucy December 1, 2009 at 17:48

This looks like such a fun event – olus the food looks delicous :D It sounds like you had a lovely time – thanks for sharing it with us!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:25

Maybe you could come to the next one? I’m sure you’d love it.

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Bellini Valli December 1, 2009 at 19:01

Sound like you had a wonderful experience meeting your fellow bloggers with some interesting conversation and great food thrown in.

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:25

Meeting up with fellow people with as much passion about food and writing was amazing.

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Mowie December 1, 2009 at 19:34

George, it was so nice to meet you in person. I’m so glad you joined our table during lunch too! I still have the pictures you asked me to take of you – they turned out great (lovely outfit you had on!), you should use one of them as your profile picture. I’ll be emailing those over as soon as I can! Great post and lovely photos x

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:25

Mowie I’m so pleased we got to meet each other. Looking forward to seeing the shots now

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake December 1, 2009 at 23:29

Hi George, lovely round up, I keep seeing all these photos of the guy pouring the tea, I can’t believe I missed out on that. Sorry we didn’t get to chat in person, the time went so fast didn’t it. We must make sure we get together next time.

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:26

I’m stunned you missed out on the pouring of the tea. Next time we really must chat

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Kitchen Butterfly December 2, 2009 at 19:23

1st things first….the photo of the orange cordial ROCKS. I will be making it as soon as…. Way to go! It was nice to meet you and I love the strawberries!

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:26

Glad you like the look of the cordial! Lovely meeting you and hope you’re at the next meet up too.

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Margot December 4, 2009 at 14:58

It looks like all of you had wonderful time there… I will make sure to take part in next event like this :)

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George@CulinaryTravels December 20, 2009 at 04:27

I do hope you can come, it would be grand to meet you.

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Brandi February 11, 2010 at 00:05

What a great event. Looks like you had a lot of fun.

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George@CulinaryTravels February 11, 2010 at 09:59

It was a great event, very informative and loads of fun. Looking forward to the next FBC already.

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Brandi February 28, 2010 at 05:31

Lovely idea to have a meet up. Looks like a great event.

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