My flight to Blogher FOod

So, I may have written my first post on Blogher Food on the plane home, and my second one over the first three days I was home. Overall, I think there are 2,500 words in my trash bin. My time in Atlanta was such a whirlwind, it was difficult to find a way to describe it.  I hope this conference survival guide/blogherfoodalogue will suffice.

1.You can never be too prepared or have too many pretty dresses:

Irvin and I worked late nights and long Saturday afternoons in cafes getting ready for our session on Branding and Design for Food Bloggers. In the weeks leading up to the conference, If I wasn’t working on our presentation, I was certainly thinking about it.  Of course, it wasn’t all work, I was also thinking about which dresses to pack. All of this working & wardrobe planning really seemed to pay off as I got very kind feedback on both the panel we lead and my choice of dresses. As a side note, a modified version of our presentation will be available for download, soon. Another note, I buy most of my dresses at pinupgirlclothing.com and bettiepageclothing.com

Irvin and I at The Four Seasons

Irvin and I at The Four Seasons

 

2. Be like the president:

Irvin & I booked separate flights- 20 minutes apart from the same airport. Mind you, this was not on purpose or anything.  But, when his flight was delayed for 5 hours, and he was told “Boarding is not imminent”, there was a part of me that was thinking it was a good thing that one of us would be in Atlanta for our presentation. Incidentally, the other parts of me were thinking that I was not to keen on flipping through 160 slides all by myself.

Our Session Filling Up

Our Session Filling Up

3. Sample the local fare, but eater beware:

My largely plant-based diet went way out the window while I was in Atlanta.  I love regional cuisine, so while traveling, I try to get the feel of a place through my favorite sense, taste. After fried pork chops at Mary Mac’s Tea room, Sublime donuts delivered to our room at The Four Seasons by sweet Broderick of Savory Exposure, chicken livers from Social wine bar, a super delicious hot dog from Doggy Dogg at the adorable Sweet Auburn Curb Market, I found myself seeking some simple fruits and veggies. Even the veggies I did find were fried- or butter or cheesed or all three. By the end of the trip, I was not feeling so hot.

James from Doggy Dogg and his fancy Hot Dogs

James from Doggy Dogg and his fancy Hot Dogs

My point is, if you have dietary restrictions, save yourself some stress and bring easy to pack snacks. Some of my favorites are apples, Lara bars, hazelnuts, and Justin’s nut butter in the individual packs. That way when you get to a restaurant and there is nothing vegan/glutenfree/dairyfree/plant-free/or strict fruitarian on the menu you don’t have to sit and watch your other 19 dining companions eat. Of course, you can do like me, and dig into a softshell crab sandwich at Cakes & Ales and worry about the fruits and veggies next week.

Greens at the Market

Greens at the Market, But No Way to Cook Them!

 

4. Wake up early, stay up late, but know when to take a nap or a walk:

I know many people have addressed conference anxiety and feeling left out or snubbed, and being in a crowd of 500 is tough even for the most gregarious person. I had very little sleep during my trip to Blogher Food, and not much in the days leading up to it, but I did sneak in some down time.  In between the last session on Friday and the Tasty Kitchen party at the Ritz, Linda of Salty Seattle & I snuck off for some girly time, a little walk, a cocktail and a snack. Just an hour away from the crowd, the fluorescent lights, and the noise, with a good friend left me refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the night.

Linda-Sabrina-blogher-food

Salty Seattle and I at the Ritz

 

5. Have Fun!

I truly enjoyed myself at Blogher Food. I made some amazing connections. I don’t mean that in the networking way; I mean that in the way that I sat down and had great conversations with people. From chatting over late night cocktails with David Leite & Michael Porcopio to planning to hop on a boat and fish with Hank Shaw when he goes out with Iso Rabbins of Forage SF.  I met “old friends” Christianna and Ilke for the first time, and spent a little time with people whose work I really love like Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille, Garret McCord of Vanilla Garlic, and Dianne Jacobs just to name a few.  Friendships were deepened with people I’ve known for a good long while in person & virtually. Love to you.

andrew eatingrules blogher food

Andrew of Eatingrules.com

6. Stay in School:

I learned a lot in the sessions I attended. The photography session led by Aran, Tami Hardeman, and Stephanie Shih was amazing and gives me something to strive towards. The travel writing session with Amelia of Z Tasty Life, Donna Pierce, & Diana Kuan and moderated by Garret McCord of Vanilla Garlic had great advice like “go naked” and “expose yourself”. Okay, to be fair, that was completely out of context. But, still, I would like to tag along with Amelia on some trips; I’m thinking we’d have  a pretty good time.  On Friday afternoon, I sat in on on the Kitchen Generation’s panel– talk about a gaggle of talented people. Kamran, Lauren, Elissa, Tessa, and Hannah, are just about the coolest. I am so glad I got to hang with them a bit. I don’t know if it speaks to their maturity or my lack of it that I kept forgetting I was old enough to be each of their mothers (a very young hot mom, but a mom nonetheless). And finally, there was charcutepallooza! My friend Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics led this session with Kim of Yummy Mummy & Mrs Wheelbarrow. There was a lot of naughty talk, and a lot of hot & tasty sausage. Ooops, there I go, again.

Sean and Jaden at Charcutepalooza

Sean and Jaden at Charcutepalooza

 

 

7. Be Yourself:

At my first blogging event, I thought to myself, “Uh oh, I don’t look like a food blogger. I don’t fit in here.” I had major conference anxiety.  The other women at the event looked more successful, or younger, or older, more fit,  more put together, or just less “rock and roll” than me. I was sure everyone already knew each other. It was like the first day of high school all over again, but, wait a second, I was 37 years old, not 14. I took a deep breath and decided to speak to the first people I saw. I turned to my left, and there were Marc from No Recipes, John from Food Wishes, and Greg from Sippity Sup. I completely interrupted their conversation, and said “Hi, I’m Sabrina from The Tomato Tart”. Of course none of them had ever heard of me, but that didn’t stop them from being super warm and welcoming.  That event was Foodbuzz Fest 2010, and my blog was five weeks old.

This time around, things were different; I know people. Each one has it’s own unique personality.  The Tomato Tart is me, so fancy dresses, petticoats, tattoos, red glasses and black hair is exactly what a food blogger looks like. Well, it’s what this food blogger looks like, anyway.

Ilke looking glamourous on day 1

Ilke and hundreds of excited/nervous bloggers on day 1

And so that’s it, I hope my survival guide helps at any upcoming conferences. If we haven’t met yet, I hope to meet you at an upcoming event, and if we have met, I’m sure it was a pleasure and I look forward to seeing you again. That is, unless you snubbed me. Just kidding!

X

Sabrina

What are your thoughts on food blogging conferences? Have a blogher food writeup you’d like to share? Leave a comment below:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori June 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Conferences are busy and overwhelming. But they are also fun and a great way to connect with so many other bloggers all in one place. It was a definitely a whirlwind though.

Walking away from my first blogging conference with a pocket full of friendly connections and some new-found knowledge are definitely steps in the right direction!

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branny June 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Great round up. Very thorough – no wonder it took you so long. I haven't done a round up at all!
Your session was seriously the most informative one I attended. Thanks! Also, I love that I'm the front row geek with the mac in the picture of your session filling up :)

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:25 AM

Thanks so much, Branny. I am glad you enjoyed the session. I am totally a front row nerd too. Nerds RULE.

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kamran siddiqi June 4, 2011 at 2:38 PM

1. I adore this post and you (of course!)
2. I want that sugar jar.
3. why is my hair sooo crazy? Luckily it wasn't too bad before the panel. Darn humidity and Spanish genes!

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Kamran,
I feel sad that you are on the other side of the country. You should definitely come to SF again. I have a twin air mattress with your name on it. The adoration, of course goes both ways. I, mean, I can't speak for the post or the sugar jar, but I can speak for myself.
X

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burwellgeneralstore June 4, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Sabrina, what a thoughtful post about such a whirlwind of an event! I am so blessed to know you. You're such a kind, spirited person, I'm looking forward to the next time we can hang out.

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The Tomato Tart June 4, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Christianna,
Sometimes, we are lucky in life, to find people that fit us. That feel like home. You, friend, feel like home, and I am so lucky for that. I look forward to spending some time together again. Until then, I get to read your blog and \”hang out\” with you online.
lots of love
Sabrina

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kickpleat June 4, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Hi, I just wanted to say that I added your blog to my feed reader when I saw a photo of your super fab outfit and style over at Irvin's blog. And I'm happy I did. I probably have all the same anxieties as you (ie, as everyone else) and maybe that's just one of the reasons why I've never made it to a blog conference but I'm glad it was fun and you had a great time. Maybe the next time a good conference rolls around, I'll hop on that bus. Your dress? So freakin' awesome.

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The Tomato Tart June 4, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Ha! That sounds like something I would do, add someone to my feedreader because I like their style. I know your blog- actually I think Irvin turned me on to it. I hope that you will make it to a conference. I would love to meet you.

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Saltyseattle June 5, 2011 at 8:32 AM

I love you, my little Tart- what fun hijinks we get up to together- must have more soon. Kisses of a huge variety, L

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The Tomato Tart June 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Oh my goodness, I love you too, all the way through the looking glass. I hope to see you next month up in Seattle.
S

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Lauren June 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Sabrina, you are such a bundle of joy. I loved getting to spend even a little time with you. Your personality bursts across with such kindness and grace. Lovely recap. Let's do it again, soon.

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:32 AM

Lauren,
You, my love, are an extraordinary young woman. I am so thrilled to have met you. Your talents and grace are a gift and it is a true pleasure to hang with you.
S

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Kimmy June 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

This is such a fun look at BlogHer. It's smart and honest, which I appreciate. :-) And you're so right, there's no "look" for a food blogger, and in general, everyone's just fun and wants to chat. Thanks for sharing!

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Ilke June 5, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Hi Sabrina, it was so great to meet you face to face after all the comments and emails :) I thought you looked great and I wished I stole an hour away with you as well!
Anxiety happens but I just reminded myself that everybody is, or was at one point, in the same shoes and if I got "snubbed", so be it, just move on. Sometimes we take things too seriously or personally.
Hope you make it to Charlotte one day or I make it to Seattle :)
Hugs and kisses, Ilke

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:22 AM

Ilke, I agree, nice to meet a friend face to face. Maybe we can meet in the middle sometime. We could pick someplace cool like New Orleans or Austin and have a little quiet blogger meet up- no big crazy conference. Just friends, food, and fun.
But, Charlotte or San Francisco (where I live) would also be lovely.

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Garrett June 5, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Excellent write up! (Also, you do not look 37. You look 28, tops.) ;)

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Ooo I so love you. What kind of treats shall I bake you and what's your address? X

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Sean June 6, 2011 at 10:53 AM

<3!

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The Tomato Tart June 13, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Smooches, babydoll.

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Stephanie - Wasabimon June 8, 2011 at 2:14 AM

I had SUCH a great time hanging out with you

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:08 AM

Stephanie,
I really enjoyed my time with you as well. Let's make a plan to get together and have some downtime as soon as you're done with your big project.
X
Sabrina

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Dianne Jacob June 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Sabrina, once I met you and saw what a fashion star you are, I couldn't wait to see how you were dressed every day. No wonder you gravitated towards Linda, as she is the major fashion plate at these events — and a lot of fun.

I enjoyed your gorgeous photos and the chance to relive the conference.

Thanks for the airport ride, and I look forward to seeing more of you right here in the Bay Area.

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The Tomato Tart June 9, 2011 at 12:16 AM

Thanks Dianne, that's very kind of you to say. I enjoyed sharing a meal with you, and spending a bit of time with you during the whirlwind weekend.
Linda and I actually met at my first blogging conference and became friends over Twitter. I fell in love with her writing and cooking style which is so wildly different than mine. Fashion was incidental, but of course, it's a bonus.
I'd love see more of you as well. Please be sure to keep me informed of anything you've got coming up in the area. I'll try to make it.

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Amelia - ZTastyLife June 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Sabrina: you are adorable, fashionable, and oh so friendable! I am so glad you came to my session (and got a smile out of my travel advice): yes, I know we would have a blast travelling and eating together. I am also glad we had a chance to spend some fun time together at sausage-palooza: I felt an immediate connection.

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The Tomato Tart June 13, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Amelia, I can't wait to chat with you about upcoming plans together. The connection goes both ways, for sure. I can't imagine more fun being had in one place.
X

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Diabetic Snacker June 13, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Wow it sounds so great to do this sort of thing. I wish they would have something like this in Indiana
for once. I'd love to go to one.

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The Tomato Tart June 13, 2011 at 1:54 PM

I've heard rumors of Chicago next year, so that's closer. Would love to meet you.

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