Yup, I was there and it was brilliant. The first UK based food blogger connect conference saw 70 food lovin’ guests descend upon Levant restaurant right here in London, all of whom have a vested interest in the phenomenon that is food blogging. Most already have their own blogs, some were interested in starting up and many came from all over the world, some as far away as India, it truly transcended all kinds of boundaries and I was so glad I was there.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s all be witnesses.
28th November, 2009. This would be the first formal food blogging conference (of sorts) that I have attended, and boy was London on form – not only was it windy, it was wet and it was icy cold, Bri’ish weather innit. I got there early – 12pm – and it wasn’t until 1pm that people started flooding into the basement restaurant – Levant. I was really happy to see many faces in the community which I didn’t yet recognise. Not that I don’t enjoy hanging with the London crowd, but as a blogger, connecting with new faces has always been part of the agenda. The ice melted away swiftly, as we mingled and found common ground in food. From the outset, there was a good vibe.
We had a busy afternoon ahead of us and little time to spare. Bethany quickly gathered all the peeps when a sizeable crowd had arrived and kicked things off officially with a little speech about the afternoon. I don’t mean to turn into a sappy fool, but it was a little surreal, this blogging thing wasn’t just a solitary hobby anymore, here we were, like-minded individuals all passionate about the same thing and gathering to talk about it. Cameras and flashes everywhere, woo, historic. Right then, speech over – time to eat.
Let me introduce you to Chris – Beth’s husband – he was recording the entire event with his super swish video camera. I’m anxious to see what comes of it, I was sober throughout the entire event, but I just want to apply an advance disclaimer that there may be scenes of goofiness, and I may likely be involved.
Also the camera adds 20 pounds.
Ok guys, let’s now follow the camera and find out what went down at the first ever Food Blogger Connect.
People are only just starting to ooze into the buffet area, many are still chatting and connecting, here’s a shot of Mowie, one of the organisers mixing with the crowd. All of us had name tags, so it was ok for the boys to look below the neck when meeting someone new. Mark chose to position his nametag very south of his chest.
So here I am just joining the queue now for the buffet. In this shot, I was paying more attention to shooting the people than I was at food.
…And here’s one of the food, but nicely illuminated by the myriad of flash lights in the background. Also note the number of cameras around.
I didn’t get to talk to the chef about the spread of food, but I did catch him entertaining the crowd with his deep knowledge of Lebanese cuisine.
Naturally I was hovering where the sweets were. Dark chocolate and Baklava…
Bad boy Kang also took a sneak peek into the Goodie Bag holding area while everyone was busy filling their plates. While we’re on the topic, everybody got one and in it were an assortment of seeds by Linwoods, Unearthed pannatonne & olives, West Country Parkham mature cheddar cheese and a few boxes of Maldon salt & pepper.
And here she is, Bethany – one of the main thrusts behind FBC ’09 and here I’m just catching a shot of her running around. I’ve (virtually) known since my beginning days (that’s going back 1.5 years) but last Saturday was our first time meeting up, surreal.
Levant being in the basement meant colourful lights and a sort of darkly ambiance. Plush red silk (was it?) covered cushions everywhere, and here we just catch a shot of the bartender tending to his ladies. Among them, is Abi who runs the fantastic Rambling Restaurant, which I have put on my eat-list.
Now that everybody has found a table, the whole place was completely buzzing with chatter. I hovered around the girls (naturally), and they started pulling faces at me.
I did eventually get round to the food, and here is the obligatory shot in the dark. I really liked the breads and the hummus, but as I said earlier, it was all about the Baklava. I didn’t have much of an appetite for food though, I have to admit, my tummy was churning a little bit at the thought of my two speeches to follow after lunch. Gulp, I hope I don’t screw up.
Ahh – here we go a Kodak moment. Mint tea – warming and just a touch of sweet, just what I needed.
As we finish our meals, all of us shifted to the presentation area for the round of talks. There were four speakers for the afternoon, Jeanne & Jamie were to talk about finding your voice in blogging, Meeta was to talk about her food photography techniques, and I provided comic relief with a short presentation on how to take photos in darkness, before finishing off with a speech about social media. If you look at the top right of the picture, you can just about see Chris giving us the thumbs up!
Overall – I thought Meeta, Jamie & Jeanne really did a bang up job with their presentations. They chose to put together a content rich and comprehensive presentation of their subject material and I for one had picked up some great tips. For instance, I’ll be buying myself some white cards to bounce light off of my subjects when photographing, and I will dig abit deeper into my wardrobe to find the clothes to fit my blogging persona.
I leave you with this shot of Jeanne just starting the afternoon of talks with a description about the BloggerAid Cookbook – a cookbook put together by food bloggers from around the world and the funds of which will be donated to help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Oh just one more, shots of Lola’s Cupcakes, with some of the goodie bag items.
All in all – I was really happy to get involved with this, and it certainly was fun to be given the chance to talk about some of the things which occupy most of my free time. If you were there, I hope you really enjoyed the show we put on for you.
So what’s happening next? As I understand it, all the content from the afternoon will be slowly uploaded to the official FBC website in the coming weeks, and you’ll be able to download all the presentation material. Also there is also a plan in place to install some sort of forum/discussion facility on the official website, so I’ll keep you up to date as and when things go online.
It was nice meeting all the other fishes in this tank, and I never really knew there were so many out there who wanted to know abit about taking shots in the dark. Perhaps the major problem we had for the afternoon was that we were really pressed for time, and we ran out of it for questions and a forum – still not bad for the first time, and I’m sure all the feedback will be vital for the many FBCs to come in the near future. Here’s to another smashing one in 2010.
PS: More pictures of the event on my flickr page here. There’s a shot of Chris with the camera in there I really like, but chose not to use it in this one.
Links and Thanks:
I met lots of foodbloggers, and have tried my best to put together a little list, but my memory ain’t what it’s suppose to be so where I have forgotten you, my sincerest apologies:
Davina, Michelle, Carla, Food Rambler, Jassy, Georgina, Deeba, Claire, Suyin, Kavey, Paul , The Daily Spud, Sarah , Sarah & Sarah, Greedy Diva, Sarka, Katrina , Ozoz, Kerrin and finally Mark and Catty.
Links to other bloggers who have written up their FBC experience: