It was my first experience at such an event and I came away with lots of information and impressions to digest and process. There were over two hundred people at IFBC and I was fortunate to meet so many folks, almost all food bloggers. The vibe was definitely relaxed and friendly, and I was inspired by the gathering of so many food writers.
I sat in on a provocative panel discussion about recipe development and related moral/ethical issues, heard an author and a literary agent talk about how to propose/pitch/publish a cookbook, and listened, in a daze, to a technical presentation about SEO. There was a food photography and styling lecture and a compelling presentation on monetizing blogs outside the on-site advertising loop.
But it was the people I met who color my memories of the weekend. When I realized it was Kathleen Flinn speaking about her new book, “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School”, I was able to find her later and describe what her first book meant to me. It was after midnight when I finally put down my signed copy of her latest cooking memoir. There was Dianne Jacob, whose “Will Write For Food” has guided me this past year, just as its first edition prompted me to begin thinking about food writing. Dianne is as funny and approachable as she is a rich talent, “the” informed voice of food writing today. Sitting in the lobby with Dianne and another friend, until well past our bedtime, finished up day two.
IFBC gave me a chance to meet two women who had become online friends for the past two years. Wendy, Elizabeth and I enjoyed a “reunion” and spent after-hours sharing life stories as we drank Elizabeth’s wine and dipped apple slices into Wendy’s artisan jams. It was a gift to come away from IFBC with friendships forged during the weekend.
I was happy to see Greg, Andrew, Melissa and Rachael, four huge talents, all LA-based, who have each supported me during the past year. As I looked around at the crowd gathered at Andrew’s after-party, I felt thankful to be part of such a community.
Will I attend more food bloggers’ conferences? Sure, I have lots to learn and will need to return to this community, a touchstone that fuels my passion for writing. This afternoon, I ran into someone at a local farmers market who asked me how I was enjoying retirement. “Oh, I’m not retired any more,” I said, “I’m a food writer now.”