At the end of September, I went to BlogHer Food 09. An entire day-long conference at the St. Regis in San Francisco just for food bloggers. I didn’t encounter a bad attitude all day. How many conferences have you attended where you could say the same thing? It was incredible: smiles, hugs, laughter all around. Maybe it was the fact that it was a warm sunny day in the city. Or maybe it’s that all these people really love what they do. Either way, I was somewhat stunned by all that niceness in one place. Let there be no doubt: the food blogging community is one seriously generous group of people!
I decided to sleep in (it was a Saturday!) and skip both breakfast and a welcome meeting. I hopped on BART at a reasonable hour and then walked three blocks to the hotel. I noticed a huddle of policemen standing right outside the St. Regis. Oh great, I thought. Food bloggers must really be rowdy; am I going to like this at all? Not even 9am, and the police have already been called!
Heading into the hotel and walking quickly toward the elevators, I was told to STOP PLEASE by a firm hotel employee. Startled, I looked up to see a small crowd moving through. Speaking a foreign language and dressed in suits to-die-for, it was clear these were high-level dignitaries, bodyguards, and various attendants. It happened so fast. They moved into waiting limos, the police dispersed, and elevator doors re-opened. The employee apologized to me for the inconvenience. Whew. Food bloggers weren’t causing the ruckus!
Stepping out of the elevator onto the second floor, I walked right into the only person I knew at the entire conference, the amazing Cheryl Sternman Rule, who just might be the funniest writer I know. She introduced me to several smiling food bloggers and the day spun out of control. We cornered David Lebovitz for a moment. I sat next to Zoe Francois of Zoe Bakes. I laughed with Todd and Diane of White on Rice about fighting urban critters for cherished homegrown backyard fruit. The Gluten-Free Girl’s baby gave me the biggest smile. Did I mention that everyone was so nice?
I attended morning sessions with White on Rice, and with Heidi Swanson and Matt Armendariz on photography. I’ve learned so much about my little embarrassing camera and how to use it since I listened to their advice and read my camera manual. Just a little detail I had previously overlooked. I will say that I pulled out my (Kodak!) camera once, and the blogger I showed it to was so mortified to be standing near me (with the Kodak in my hand) that I stuck my camera back in my bag for the rest of the day. (Therefore, no pictures for you!) Apparently it is cool to use expensive cameras, very expensive cameras, or a Polaroid or iPhone, but not a Kodak Easy Share. Who knew? That’s my camera and I’m sticking to it, however uncool it may be, until I can stop dropping cameras in wet bread dough. Because at that point I really do stick to it.
Then came lunch. You can read about our Bertolli lunch, the big stir, and the commentary during it – oh my, not what you would think – here and here. I met so many wonderful writers and bloggers and photographers – famous ones, great ones, and brand new ones – at that lunch and during the breaks. I watched Elizabeth Falkner convince otherwise socially acceptable people to put latex gloves on their hands and dig in chocolate boxes for corn nuts, cake, and pretzels covered in marshmallow and dark chocolate ganache. You read that correctly: latex gloves, digging in chocolate, corn nuts. I think you had to be there. (But if you weren’t, check out this post.)
There was also a surreal cocktail party on the glam roof terrace (warm evening in SF!), with sumptuous cocktails, and with appetizers using Campbell’s Soup. You cannot make this stuff up – all conferences need sponsors, okay? Which is about when I gave out. I hugged a few people, grabbed my swag bag full of Scharffen Berger Chocolate and other assorted goodies, tucked the business cards of my new blogging buddies in my pocket, and headed back to BART. Yes, this is what I call work these days. Read it and weep.
New Friends (in no particular order):