I had the opportunity to attend The International Food Bloggers Conference in Santa Monica with my fabulous coworker, Liz.  Stampington & Company was a sponsor of the 3-day conference, which was comprised of engaging break-out sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, passionate attendees, and the BEST food I’ve ever tasted in my life.

That isn’t really saying a whole lot, since I am not a food blogger, chef, or baker.  I only masquerade as a baker with the help of Betty Crocker.  On a rare occasion, I will roll up my sleeves and cover the kitchen counter in flour in the attempt to just “whip up” something delicious.

Life Lesson # 17: Never attempt to cut down the sugar in an attempt to make cupcakes “healthier.” They will not come out delicious, or nutritious. They will just taste like cornbread.

Although we were quite possibly the only non-food bloggers in attendance, we definitely made up for it in swag. We brought over 100 copies of the premiere issue of Where Women Cook to hand out at our sponsor booth during the Friday evening reception.  It was such a treat talking with the other food bloggers who were long-time readers of our publications and chatting with those who were seeing our magazines for the first time.  I enjoyed talking with Mary Platis (CalGreekGirl) whose daughter is also a UC Davis graduate (go Ags!) and met Marion Ferrer (Sincredible Pastries), who will be featured in an upcoming issue of Where Women Cook!

Following Friday’s reception, the bloggers headed to The Market at Santa Monica Place for an exclusive treat.  We each got 10 food tickets to spend at the market’s different vendors, which included a delicious spread of ice cream sandwiches, fresh caramel chocolate cookies, macaroons, cheese plates, gelato, and ceviche nachos.  Kristin (The Great American Bakery Hunt) even got a chance to get her hands in macaroon dough over at the Gourmandise School of Cooking!

Saturday brought even more surprises, as our lunch consisted of a buffet of food trucks! I had never eaten from a food truck before moving to Irvine, so this was all fairly new to me.  My favorite was the Grilled Cheese Truck, where I ordered a—are you ready for this?—grilled-pumpkin-marshmallow-cheese sandwich.  It tasted just as ridiculously good as it sounds.  On the menu for dessert: Beer Battered Apple Pie. It tasted just as disgustingly amazing as it sounds as well.

 

 

 

 

Liz and I explored Santa Monica Saturday night following the activities, and didn’t have to walk far from our hotel to do so! We stopped by The Viceroy and mingled with the Santa Monica elite (I was convinced Ashton Kutcher was going to walk by at any moment) before taking a quick detour past Chez Jay, a little nautical-themed hole in the wall, and hopping over to Copa d’Oro, which had a much younger vibe, more our scene. We danced our way into a circle of what seemed to be a huge birthday party and got our groove on. Note to self: Do not wear stockings when bar hopping.

Loving the white/black/kelly green color scheme at The Viceroy.

After Sunday’s morning sessions and closing reception, we headed back over to The Market to have brunch at Zengo.  We had made reservations through the conference, but little did we know that the entire meal was going to be comped by IFBC! Brunch included all-you-can-eat-and-drink small plates and cocktails, all to be enjoyed on the balcony overlooking the rest of The Market, surrounded by palm trees and beautiful old buildings.  We enjoyed mango mimosas and apple sangria, chipotle yellow fin tuna rolls and salmon omelets, pan de leche and caramelized plantains.  It was the epitome of the concept of brunch, and a spectacular way to close the weekend’s festivities.

Loved meeting these wonderful girls at the Saturday night banquet ~ Stacy (Little Blue Hen) Suki (Super Duper Fantastic) and Emily (The Gilt Nutmeg) Hope to see you all soon!

Highlights from the keynote speakers:

Writing About Food and Culture with Kathleen Flinn and Olga Massov
–    Having a blog levels the writing playing field; you can have a global outreach.
–    The best stories start with ourselves. Where do you come from?
–    Other great stories start with a nuggest of curiosity.
–    Carry around a notebook; there is a story everywhere you go.
–    There is a story behind the cake.
–    Don’t search for wonders, watch for them. You could be too focused on one thing and miss everything else.
–    Shop in the perimeter of the grocery store.
–    Don’t forget about the “Who cares” …on the flip side, can’t you just write about what you care about?
–    Stalking–aka–action research is totally acceptable.

Pitching Blog to Book and Magazine with Kathleen Flinn, Lisa Ekus, and Silvana Nardone
–    There is a fine balance of not caring what the compeition is doing vs keeping relevant.
Monetizing Your Blog with Barnaby Dorfman, Melissa Lanz and Andie Mitchell
– Where do you want to be in 5 years?
– Keys to success: Build your brand, Build your reputation, Leverage your audience, Think globally
– Opt-in option! Collect email addresses; traditional marketers look at this.

Note to self to research:
CPM: Cost per thousand impressions
CPC: Cost per click
Advantages/Disadvantages of advertorial
Display Advertising: important info goes above the fold of an ad
Google AdSense

A special thank you to Andie Mitchell (she organized the whole conference!) who shared her inspiring weight loss journey, which you can read about on her blog.  She recently got offered a book deal, so watch out for her must-read soon!  It was so nice meeting all the lovely attendees–check out the work of some talented ladies we met! ~ Melissa Lanz (The Fresh 20), Sara O’Donnell (Average Betty), Erika Kerekes (In Erika’s Kitchen), Zoe Bartlett (Intentional Table).

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