Note: Below contains reference to sponsors who provided meals, swag, samples I received at and before the BlogHer Food Conference. None required that I blog about them or even suggest that I only say nice things about their products
Last weekend, I had perhaps my favorite BlogHer experience ever…and I was surprised. I didn’t really want to go to BlogHer Food. San Francisco doesn’t thrill me. I am sort of odd when it comes to food bloggers. I don’t do fancy food. I rarely drink alcohol. I don’t like to take pictures of food. I didn’t even really read that many food blogs until about 6 weeks ago when I added all sorts of food bloggers from the BlogHer Food Attendees to my feed reader. I often don’t even like to talk about food. I am not a foodie.
Denise convinced me to go. It would be a weekend away. It would be BlogHer and she would go with me. Yes, pathetic. The non-food blogger convincing the food blogger to go. Ok, Sassymonkey was going too.
Last week, I was overwhelmed with work, a cold, getting my mother ready and of course,budget issues. Why did I get talked into this thing?
Then I got there. The super cheap boutique hotel was…less than boutique. (but super cheap-close to BlogHer Conference Hotel and everything else) Still…a cold.
Friday we spent holed up in the hotel (with the exception of *$ coffee and the worst diner breakfast ever) until time to head to the conference hotel to meet up for the Bertolli/St Supery dinner. Yes, we were BOTH wondering why we were going. Neither of us is a wine drinker. We don’t really do Italian food. My frozen food tastes don’t run to those meals in a bag. We also had no clue about Rocco DiSpirito. Ok…we knew why we were going. Free dinner (thrifty folks here), meet some bloggers, Flip cameras…thrifty again…shhhh…those are Christmas swag…err gifts. (thrifty) Little did I know that that would be the beginning one of the best BlogHer conferences ever for me. The bus was fun. The champagne and gifts on the bus fun. Meeting a smaller group of folks-new people-wonderful. We got to the winery. More wine-some I thought hmm this is good. Starving. Scallop tomato water thing-frou frou not my thing. Bruschetta-totally my thing-known in this house as “toast” due to pronunciation of the word bruschetta.
Beautiful table settings…with place cards. I am next to Rocco. Uh scary. I meant to Google and sort out who he was…but hadn’t. I. do. not. watch. food. tv. Not only that-Denise is at a different table. I would have to socialize on my own. Oh, wait, I can do that. I was in cotillion after all. I grew up with some semblance of dinner party decorum. Not only that-the rest of the people were super at the table. And Rocco? He is super at talking to strange women. The food…pretty darn good. Yes, some of it was Bertolli frozen-zapped in microwave/oven/skillet. But, surprisingly-totally something I would serve my family upon occasion. (not the shrimp one…but the others) A long, lovely night chatting with other bloggers, PR folk, learning a bit about wine and Bertolli, sharing my thoughts, etc. I loved the small setting and the chatter.
Late night hike back to hotel, another night on a horrid pillow, a fetid mattress and seeing the light from the hall and hearing everyone on the floor. Next morning, up early, but not quite early enough to stand in line for Starbucks. WTF is wrong with San Francisco Starbucks that the lines are long AND SLOW. NYC? Lines. Fast lines. Chicago? Lines. Fast Lines. San Francisco, multiple trips, multiple stores, not just in tourist areas. ALWAYS SLOW.
So, we limped into the conference hotel, coffee-less. More people than I thought…but not so overwhelming as the main conferences for the past few years. It was more like the San Jose BlogHer conference-a few sponsor tables-a lot of new faces. In fact, there was a huge number of first time BlogHers. That made it super fantastic. I loved the new folk. I loved the size. Finally, the hall opened for breakfast, snagged a table, grabbed some breakfast including a smoothie in hopes of soothing a throat. Um I don’t do smoothies but YUM. Fab. (Thanks Milk Board folk)
My sponsor run down: I appreciate sponsors keeping prices down on conference tickets and keeping me fed. Otherwise, really I couldn’t afford to go.
Also, I am not against processed and non local food. Sorry folks. I know that a lot of food bloggers will only eat local, sustainable, organic, artisan, veg, whatever foods. I am a mom. I am a caregiver. I work 50+ hours a week. And…I like pre-shredded cheese, canned soup, sliced bread that stays fresh through my mother’s slow eating of a loaf of carb reduced soft, tasteless bread. I buy pudding cups and fiber added yogurt with artificial sweetener. I use Bisquick and Jell-o. In other words, I am a pretty average American woman. So, I wasn’t horrified by the sponsors. Nope, I wouldn’t try the Healthy Choice frozen things but that soup? It may replace the generic tomato soup my mom often requests for lunch. Those frozen dishes? Possible “omg, my mother needs to eat dinner but I will be working until midnight” have on hand meal. Mushrooms? Some of my favorite things on the planet…and how I won my love with food. Pur water pitcher-well I am pretty sure we wouldn’t have bought one…but it has become the family favorite in a week. My children are sucking down water like crazy creatures and so is Mama. Yeah, the weird flavor shot things seem…unpleasant in ways…but better than soda or the sweet tea my kids will drink by the gallon. Cuisinart? ooo pretty…and yeah, it tipped me a bit when I just ordered a coffee pot for Denise’s birthday. Sharffen Berger chocolate? Mmm yummy. Expensive. I was a bit disappointed in the Jell-0 folks with only their sugar free Mousse-though my mother will likely like it. I appreciated their openness to my discussion about my sadness over not being able to get pre-made lime Jell-o cups (not sugar free-I can’t eat sugar free Jell-0) They were even nice when I complained about their wording on some ads. (food is not something to feel guilty about. ever) Pillsbury? Those cookies? A mix? yum. Squirty pretty frosting that wasn’t horrid? Genius. Really. I complained about the brownie minis experience we had previously. Campbells? Swanson? I am a retro cook. These are staples. I did leave the French Onion Soup for the food bank but cursed myself for that on Thursday. I am pondering those cereals hard from Natures Path. Every single rep was responsive, friendly, polite, and it isn’t as if they chased you down. Bertolli again for lunch? meh…but wait…those ravioli? yum. Rocco talking to women, even women fairly hostile to frozen food, amusing and sweet and really, I have had far worse conference meals. Sponsored breaks. Piles of food, beverages. You weren’t hostage…don’t see the sponsors if not interested. Buy your own lunch, snacks, cocktails. You still would have gotten a good deal.
You know why? Because there were sessions that were interesting, informative, and truly wonderful…whether you were a foodie or a food blogger who is just happy to have food on the table. More than that-there was plenty of time to talk to other bloggers, really interesting, friendly, wonderful people. Some I had read for years, some for a week or two, some I looked up while at the conference, some since I got home. The parties were heartbreakingly wonderful. I talked to people. New people. I didn’t feel like I had to stick with these people or rush to that session or that party/after-party. The swirling feeling of being invisible or too exhausted to think that I can face at the main conference? Not there. Yeah. It rocked. Big time. No one shot me on sight for being a photo hating, processed food preparing, odd accidental food blogger. In fact, I felt for the first time like I had found my tribe among bloggers. Yep, I know. I could do a “better” food blog with more posts, more pictures, more voice. I could follow every “rule” for great food blogs…but I also can make a difference, have a voice and be the food blog that I am.
People read my blog. Some people love my blog. Some people are indifferent. Others understand it but couldn’t blog the same way or would not blog the same way. The important part though? Me loving my blog. I get to make my little bit of difference, be me and yes, have a great time with foodies, non foodies who really WERE there, and yes, I flirted. I blushed. I ran my mouth. I held #eve. I fell in love again with blogging and community and met some people that I will see often I hope in the months and years to come. And just because… here are some more pictures: