When I heard that Food Bloggers of Canada would be hosting their very first conference this Spring I felt a sense of excitement. While some may not consider me to be a true blue “Foodie” I am a food lover and am very proud to be the Chicken Farmers of Canada Health Ambassador which of course involves researching and blogging about food. Thankfully, the fine folks at Chicken Farmers of Canada decided to send me to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference and I eagerly packed my bags and drove to the conference with my friend and conference roommate Christine from Life On Manitoulin.
The conference was held very close to my home at the Hockley Valley Resort. I have spent a fair amount of time at Hockley, both working in the ski shop for 4 years in my youth and enjoying skiing and golfing at their facilities. I expected Hockley to deliver a luxury weekend filled with great food and accommodations and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
When we arrived at Hockley the power was out due to an ice storm but the hotel staff were friendly and things were still running quite smoothly. We met up with fellow conference attendees in the lobby and eagerly began getting to know one another. There seemed to be a sense of community in the air; as if we were all interconnected by our love of all things food and the excitement of being at the inaugural conference.
A Cocktail Reception You Say?
Friday evening we officially registered, proudly donned our lanyard which identified who we were and received a copious amount of swag from the sponsors of FBC2013. After depositing the swag back in our room Christine and I set out for the Sponsor Cocktail Reception to meet the event sponsors and sample their wares. As you can imagine I was hesitant about a “cocktail” reception and initially couldn’t find a non-alcoholic beverage available.
In typical Julie style, once I had given the amazing Heather Travis from Canadian Beef a hug hello I immediately asked if she knew where I might find a drink. She smiled at me and pointed to the rows upon rows of champagne glasses filled with what looked like deep red and white wines. I must have looked puzzled as I stammered..”butttt wait, those are non-alcoholic?”
Heather confirmed that this was indeed a non-alcoholic choice and I quickly made my way over to investigate..hmmm looks like alcohol, doesn’t smell like it and my-oh-my it doesn’t smell icky syrupy like most other bottled non-alcoholic drinks. I sipped this Champanade cautiously only to exclaim far too loudly “Holy cow this is actually good!”
Yes, because I’m that classy.
That’s the moment when I met my soul sister Carly from Tree of Life who was representing the fine cheeses, crackers and non-alcoholic drink choices of the event. From the moment I met this woman we didn’t stop laughing and she was right when she promised me that this conference would shock me when it came to the quality of choices in non-alcoholic drinks.
I may have been seen carting around more than one bottle at a time, but I blame that entirely on Carly who repeatedly insisted I try another. Cough….
The reception was wonderful, each attendee had the opportunity to speak with the brands and begin establishing connections if they chose. There were many gasps as foodies recognized each other from online communications and I may have invaded the personal space of more than a few of my Tweeps.
Food Bloggers of Canada Conference Day 1 Dinner
As one would expect at a Food Blogger Conference, the dinner was divine. A prime rib which was soft like butter, a lovely Yorkshire pud and potatoes and veg to match…this girl was impressed. Pair this with some delicious beverages and a table full of new friends and some pre-existing (Like my darling friend Julie from Dinner With Julie who I know will thank me for this photo) and it was a fine meal indeed.
Say It Like It Is
The Keynote speaker was David Leite whom I’d had the pleasure of spending time with earlier in the afternoon. David is the creator of Leite’s Culinaria which is simply a must read for anyone who has ever tasted food and has an appreciation for the written word.
It struck me that David’s manner is the same whether he was chatting with me in the restaurant or in front of a hundred people giving a keynote. He is engaging, welcoming, opinionated and down right humorous. The key points I took away from David’s keynote were:
- To blog successfully you must love the written word, language matters.
- Use only one exclamation mark per post…are you sure David???!!!
- Reading your work aloud allows you to connect with the voice you’re writing with, is it the authentic you which you want to convey.
- Find your passion and write about it, if you are writing about something other than what you love you will fail.
- Every comment deserves a response, leave non behind.
- Always bring your business cards to conferences…David may have forgotten his.
KitchenAid Malt Shop…why YES please
The organizers of FBC2013 may scored a brilliant move with this event, combining bloggers with authentic milkshakes prepared by KitchenAid was slick. We are a KitchenAid family, all of our appliances are KitchenAid and while I could gush about them for hours I’ll leave that for another post and simply say it was a blast.
Sessions Jammed With Information
The sessions at the conference were jammed with valuable information which took me years to learn. Due to the size of this post I shall just tell you to head to the Food Bloggers of Canada page to read the Tech notes and HERE for a fantastic breakdowns check out My Daily Randomness.
There were two sessions which impacted me hugely; the photography session with Robin Sharp, Adele Hagan and Julie Van Rosendaal has equipped me to take better shots to share here, almost making me feel embarrassed of my past photos.
The Publishing panel with Dianne Jacob, Charmian Christie, Emily Richards, Julie Van Rosendall and Corey Mintz was a wealth of infromation for anyone who is considering publishing a book, whether an ebook or in print. It was a realization that it IS possible for anyone to become a published writer if they want it badly enough and are willing to work for it.
I would like to thank all of the speakers for opening my eyes anew. I feel refreshed by your words, energized by your enthusiasm and honestly plugged back into the reason I began blogging in the first place. I’ve fallen in love again because of your inspiration!
One may not expect a blog with the name SoberJulie to be the first attendee they meet at a Foodie conference but it sure felt like they’d planned the Saturday evening festivities just for me. We had enjoyed a lovely dinner and moved along to the Campbell’s Late Night reception where what to my eyes did appear but a dazzling Mocktail bar!!!
With sweeties and treats these Mocktails made my night. I can’t tell you how it lifted my heart to see how conscientious the conference organizers were when it came to each and every detail such as this one. It may not seem like much, but the Mocktail bar option meant something to myself and the other non-drinkers who attended.
Food For Thought
The Food Bloggers Conference was one that I’m grateful to have attended. The organizers Mardi, Melissa and Ethan and their team of volunteers managed to blow me away. They assembled the perfect blend of speakers, the right brands, a variety of activities all in one luxurious location to present each of us with a weekend to remember.
As I sit and ruminate over my learnings it strikes me that my vision for my blog has become even clearer than it was. I will continue to share my journey, hoping to inspire others to lead a healthier, more enriched life. When it comes to food here on SoberJulie I will share recipes which are simple, nutritious and tasty…and now the photos will hopefully have improved!
To my fellow attendees, thank you for opening yourselves and allowing me to pick your brains, share a laugh and create some memories with you. I will warn you that you now have a reader who is sure to be asking questions and tweeting at you regularly!