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FBC2013 – First Food Bloggers of Canada Conference

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Andrea MacLeod, Kelly Brison and Kris are being silly in the KitchenAid photo booth.

FBC2013

Yes, that’s quite the title and it is really fitting the weekend that we had, out at the Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville. It was great to say the least, overwhelming almost. A whirlwind of 3 days of meeting people, eating great food, learning a lot and enjoying it to the fullest.

Writing a sum up of this conference is much harder than I thought. I seem to be unable to gather my thoughts in a reasonable manner, bringing across what I have learned without babbling.

I was quite excited to read that Food Bloggers of Canada were organizing a food blogger conference in Canada. I knew there were similar events in the States, however, that always seemed far away. Frankly, Toronto is not much closer for someone from Saskatchewan but it was meant to be for Canadian food bloggers, the first of it’s kind, something I wanted to be part of.

A big Thank you to Mardi, Ethan and Melissa who organized this event, as well as the volunteers who helped out.

Friday, April 12, early in the morning my flight left for Toronto and I was nervous as to what to expect. Yes, there is the line up of events online, yes, you can see who is coming, but reading about it and actually being there are two different things.

I met up with Bridget with whom I had a lovely chat and lunch before meeting up with Valerie to share a ride to the Resort. Oh Toronto, I don’t think we will be friends, your drivers are a bit crazy. But we made it just to arrive to a black out at the Resort probably due to that freezing rain we saw on the way.

Oh well.

A quick check-in and before I knew it Kelly, my roomie, took me to our room, which was spacious and comfortable and I really really liked those big bed and soft sheets. I had to catch my breath, change and then off to the bar we went to chat with other food bloggers.

Now, I am not a fan of the word “swag” but I am a fan of goodies. Like grow-your-own-mushroom-kit (started two days ago), lentils in a wine bottle, cook books, coupons for things like Blurb, little kitchen gadgets, oh, a Delta touch-less faucet, and of course Moo business cards. Those were put to good use during the weekend and I was glad I had them.

From left to right: Kris and Kelly Brison.

Kris and Kelly

Around 6 p.m. a reception was held by the sponsors with little snacks and Henry of Pelham Sparkling – Cuveé Catharine. It was a good time to mix and mingle, meet more people, or meet people you know online but never seen before. KitchenAid Canada had set up a pictures booth with little props, goofy photos were the result.

Candian poutine with cheese curds and gravy.

Canadian Poutine

Canadian steak with mushrooms and vegetables.

Main Course the first night.

Berry chocolate cake trifle

Delicious Dessert

Dinner was lovely. More people to meet, more food to eat, more wine to drink, oh and some pictures of course. Funny how it is that I took pictures of the meal but not of the people who shared it with me. I know that there were three people who represented brands: Sandra from the Dairy Farmers of Canada, Annelies from Attune Foods, and one of the owners of Henry of Pelham (sorry, didn’t catch your name). And David Leite was the key note speaker, giving us some lovely insight. (I didn’t take notes but should have.)

Big cookies in the shape of an oven and a KitchenAid machine in various colours.

Delicious KitchenAid Cookies

Later that night we all switched into comfy pants and went to the movies, generously sponsored by KitchenAid Canada. We had delicious milkshakes, which were prepared in KitchenAid blenders, there was popcorn and monster cookies by Sweetopia. Most people got to the conference that day, getting up early, so the movie cleared out fairly fast. We all had a good nights sleep.

Saturday started as any Saturday should start, with a breakfast buffet. If you liked sweet or savoury in the morning, they had it. I went for French toast, hmmmm.

The following is just a “short” summarize of the panels, I took more notes than that but it would go it too much detail, I believe, if I would list them all.

From left to right, Mardi Michels, Mary Luz Mejia, Heather Travis, and Brittany Stager talking about Food bloggers and brands relationship

Bloggers & Brand panel

Bloggers and Brands

- both sides were able to talk about what is important
– the relationship should be beneficial on both sides
– the brand should fit your blog

From left ot right: Alexa Clark and Jason Bangerter talk about food criticism and restaurant chefs

The Critic & the Chef panel

Critic and the Chef

- social media and blogging has changed this relationship
– everyone is a critic now, everyone can voice their opinion
– interesting to hear how chefs cope with so many critics nowadays and what they think of photography in the restaurant

Melissa Hartfiel and Dave Zille speak about technology for food blogs.

Tech for your Blog

Tech for your Blog

- accessibility of your blog for mobile devices
– use the right formatting tools for your posts
– Use Headings
– pay attention to picture size and use link colours
– avoid flash
– tags and alt tags for pictures
– Google webmaster tools, Google Sitemap, Google Authorship, Google Analytics

From left to right: Dan Clapson, Jan Scott, and Aimee Wimbush-Bourque telling each their story of how to make money off a food blog.

Making Dough

Making Dough

This is a two headed beast for me because on the one hand yes, I’d like to make money of my blog, but no, I don’t like ads that much. I believe this is something I will have to look into later down the road.

From left to right: Adele Hagan, Robin Sharp, and Julie van Rosendaal giving advice on how to take better pictures and how to style your food.

Food Photography & Styling

Food Photography

I struggle with good pictures much due to the lighting in my house. I also have some issues with props, or rather, the lack of props, which has something to do with space and storage….

- rule of thirds
– vertical images are better than horizontal
– depth of field
– lighting should come for the back or the side
– colour temperature and food enhancements

I need to work on most of these but as I see it photography is a learning experience. There are very few who are good right from the beginning. The rest of us learns by taking pictures.

A chocolate cup with whipped cream, half a strawberry and a cinnamon-chocolate twist arranged on a plate.

Dessert on a plate

My biggest issue though with the panel was the food enhancement. For commercial shots I understand that you prop your food, that you use materials on it to make the colours and textures pop. I get it. For me, that wouldn’t work because afterwards I am consuming that food. I prop my food too, arrange it to make it as appealing as possible. But I will not rub my burger meat or scrambled eggs with extra oil to make it look shinier. For my blog, I want my readers to see how it turns out, so they can go and bake or cook it and be like “That looks very much like what she posted.” Nevertheless, it was interesting to hear and see what a professional had to say.

Lucy Waverman speaking about the change in food writing.

Changing Face of Food Writing

Changing Face of Food Writing

- know your food history
– take care of your credibility
– tone your communication skills
– take a writing course
– find your niche

Dianne Jacob speaking on how to have a better blogger-reader relationship.

Hey, is anybody out there?

Hey, is anybody out there?

- engage the reader by thinking about him/her and make them care
– how personal do you like to write?
– who are you writing to?
– put forth an opinion
– questions, things that are trendy, kitchen disasters
– leave room for comments, e.g. leave a hole

Davide Leite answers questions from food bloggers.

Davide Leite Q&A

David Leite’s Q & A

It was really funny and interesting and I guess we could have just spend the whole day listening to him, asking questions.

- language, love it, embrace is and use it right
– right use of punctuation, exclamation marks should only be used once
– smilies don’t belong in a blogger’s text
– get some one to edit if you can
– if you are busy, upload a pictures or just leave a short text so readers know you still care
– go with your guts
– Zombie posts are ok
– post of a 1000 word are ok

This  concluded Saturday’s session and we had some time to hang out with others or relax and get ready for the dinner that night. Again, the evening started with a little reception and a sparkling wine by The Grange of Prince Edward. This time there was no assigned seating. The dinner was delicious and the conversations were fun.

Salad of fresh greens, cheese and beets with bacon dressing.

Salad appetizer

Second dinner night main dish was turkey breast wrapped in bacon served with vegetables on the side.

Turkey breast, bacon and vegetables

A small bowl of creme bruelee, a slice of cake and a spoon of caramel sauce.

Creme Brulee, Cake, Caramel

The evening was concluded with a concert by Brad Fillatre and a late night snack provided by Campell’s. We sat and talked and drank and enjoyed it until the wee hours of the morning.

A group of food bloggers having a late knight drink.

Meeting friends

Sunday morning rolled around way too quickly and had a little surprise for me. After checking out and taking my things to the car I found the rental care dead. Yes, I had left on the lights. So, after a quick bite I was able to get a boost before returning to the last sessions.

Brian Kent-Baas telling food bloggers about bookkeeping.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping for Bloggers

- pay attention to expenses and income
– be organized
– get an auditor who knows about blogging/food blogging

From left to right: Dianne Jacob, Charmian Christie, Emily Richards, Julie van Rosendaal, and Corey Mintz giving tips on how to publish a cook book.

Publishing Panel

Publishing Panel

- market has changed greatly over the last 10 years
– do an app, e-book
– get some experience, co-author
– find your niche

This could be a separate conference because each blogger is different and there are many approaches to the topic.

From left to right: Mairlyn Smith, Stephanie Eddy, and Adell Shneer speaking about how to develop recipes for your blog.

Recipe Development

Recipe Development

A completely new topic to me. I tweak recipes, I sometimes combine two, but I don’t think I ever really developed a recipe from scratch.

- compare various recipes to find the things that works
– have a base recipe and change things until you have what you want
– test, double test and re-test again

There are different approaches to this and it depends much on the person on how to go about. I believe for a baker it is important to understand the chemistry side of baking. What ingredients will do what thing when baked, basically.

Dana McCauley encouraging Canadian food bloggers.

Future of Canadian Food Bloggers

Future Trends in Canadian Food Blogging

Dana McCauley looked back on the development of the past years and pointed out that one should choose to be different (find your niche), have a purpose and don’t look to be popular. She had 8 simple wishes for food bloggers:

1. Tell a story2. Teach blogging basics & ethnics to children
3. Learn the difference between their, there, and they’re
4. Edit relentlessly
5. Understand the difference between a journal and a blog
6. Be transparent
7. Reward quality
8. Put a flag on it

I believe the last point resonated with most if not all of it. Be proud of being a Canadian Food Blogger because we are a unique bunch and should be afraid to point out that we are.

Thus the First Food Bloggers of Canada Conference ended. Well, not quite true, lunch was served before we all headed out to go back to our lives and blogs.

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference 2013

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference 2013

What an experience. How much was given to us to learn, to understand, to connect with and to take back home to use. I still need to work on many things but I am very glad I went to this conference.

About andreamacleod

Take a KitchenAid Artisan machine, a young wife, time, creativity and mix it well. You end up with endless options of baking goodies from German tort to North American cupcakes. Follow me on my baking (and sometimes cooking) adventures and throw in your cent or two. There are no limits!

18 responses »

  1. Andrea, I LOVE this recap! I especially love how you took pictures of each panel…wish I had done that too! I agree that the recipe development panel was really enlightening…I’ve never developed something from scratch either.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this fantastic recap! I was curious all along what the Conference was all about… since I am a everything and nothing blogger these little notes summarized here got me thinking about recipients and photos but also inventing recipes from scratch.

    Just this weekend I combined two recipes and thought “I’d love to come up with one myself”… but, as you know, I’m not really patient so the whole testing phase appears daunting to me ;)
    Anyways, I also wanted to thank you for your great work on-and offline, you’re inspiring, And I don’t just say that because you’re my friend. Thanks to you I’m enjoy baking and cooking so so much more (and I also end up doing way more than ever before).

    You’re great. There, I said it.

    Have a great Sunday!

    Reply
    • Glad to hear you enjoyed the recap. To be honest, recipe development seems a bit scary to me too. You really need to know what works together and what ingredients will have what effect. Otherwise you can end up with a big mess. I am very much like you, combine things or exchange ingredients to my liking.

      Happy to hear that you venture well into the cooking and baking land. That’s the point of all of this, to inspire people so they will try things.

      Reply
  3. acanadianfoodie

    It was so wonderful meeting you, Andrea – though not from Saskatchewan, wonderful to meet you living there and knowing people in common – and the way of life there must be so similar to ours, in Alberta, in many ways. Would love to see what you think of my recap, too! :)
    Valerie

    Reply
    • Your recap is on my to read lisr. I am fairly busy with marathon training right now but will make time to read and responds as soon as I can.
      I think you are right, Saskatchewan and Alberta are quite similar. Though I believe there are some differences as well, worth exploring.

      Reply
  4. Such a great recap! Love your breakdown of each panel and all of the excellent photos too. Hope you have fun growing your own mushrooms!!

    -Shannon

    Reply
  5. When we were trying to figure out a :mission statement” for the conference, we came up with something very similar to “learn, understand, connect and give people things to take back home to use.” So glad that’s what you took from it!

    Reply
    • I am very glad I went. The experience and the panels really taught me something, thought I am still trying to implement it all. It will probably take a good while before I can do that.

      Reply
  6. This looks like it was a really neat event! I just joined FBC and discovered your blog today. You have some really nice recipes :)

    Reply
  7. Your recap was like a tour of the conference – took me right back there! Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Andrea, may I use your photo of Jason & me in a post?

    Reply

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