My Weekend as a Food Blogger

Here’s a little secret about travel bloggers: we all secretly want to be food bloggers. Well maybe not everyone, there are a few picky eaters out there, but in general we all really enjoy exploring the world through food.

I like to write about what I eat and, although I don’t really write about it, I love to cook as well. I’ve even occasionally toyed with the idea of starting a cooking blog in all that spare time I have lying around (ha). So when I heard about the International Food Blogger Convention (IFBC), going on less than a mile from my apartment in Seattle, it seemed like a no brainer to attend.

I can’t say it went exactly as I expected. I didn’t spend the weekend tasting unique cheeses and discussing the merits of different microbrews. In fact, I didn’t get to talk about food that much at all, at least not in the way I typically talk about it, which is as a giant fangirl.

Here is what I discovered as a spy in the house of food bloggers:

Commercialism out the Wazoo

This may be the pot calling the kettle black, as lord knows travel bloggers love sponsorships and swag and TBEX is certainly awash in those things. Maybe it was being in a different setting, maybe it really was more blatant, but it was crazy to see people going bananas, and over so little!

Convention-goers were showered with free swag from popcorn to kitchen appliances to seaweed snacks, all in the hopes we would write about it. I mean, I can’t argue with free stuff, but it did feel a bit pointed.

More annoying, some of the conference sessions (a conference we had paid to attend mind you) were little more than sponsored infomercials. During breakfast we listened to a presentation on Noosa yogurt, at lunch we were lectured on the benefits of Ninja blenders and happy hour was sponsored by Butterball Turkey.

The educational sessions weren’t safe either. There was “Fresh Ideas for Entertaining” with Krusteaz and a wine tasting session with Bordeaux wines. The one I attended, “Know your Beef, Know your Butchery” was sponsored by Beef Checkoff (the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” people), and it was just this side of propaganda- and that is coming from someone who really, really likes beef.

People Have Very Strong Opinions About Food

 

One of the less controversial foods

Okay, I knew this, but putting 400 food-passionate people with different diets in one room really highlighted this. Barbed tweets and pointed questions went back and forth all weekend between the gluten-free bloggers, the vegan bloggers, the paleo bloggers etc.

One of the first sessions featured Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, authors of The Flavor Bible. They were there to talk about their new book the Vegetarian Flavor Bible and, not surprisingly, their conversion to vegetarianism.

I didn’t even know that choosing to be a vegetarian could be seen as radical in this day and age, but the twitter hashtag exploded with angry bloggers slamming the pair’s advice. The WABeef twitter account even got involved, which surprised me.

The Writing Sessions Were Great

It wasn’t all a bust though. I attended several really great sessions. There was a delightful cooking demo with Thierry Rautureau aka the Chef in the Hat. The writing workshop with Dianne Jacob was worth the price of admission by itself, and I really enjoyed listening to Washington Post food and travel editor Joe Yonan talk about taking risks. I left with some serious thinking to do, about my writing and work.

Seattle is an Amazing Place to be a Foodie

Amazing asian fusion chicken and waffles from Kaisho, a Capitol Hill restaurant

I have to say, I picked a pretty awesome place to live. I already knew this, but the conference really brought it home. So many exhibitors, from Theo Chocolate to Bristol Bay Salmon were all Pacific northwest companies. On Saturday a variety of local restaurants catered the reception and they were all excellent. Many attendees left raving about Seattle, as I smugly got to stay behind.

In the end I’m not sure I would go back to IFBC. I felt out of place the entire weekend, even though I was fortunate enough to see some old friends and meet some lovely new people. lThe conference was definitely geared more towards recipe bloggers, not food reviewers. And I know for certain now that I’m not cut out to be a recipe blogger because sigh, I just don’t care about 8 new ways to cook make pancakes or the merits of different blenders. I’m still not sure what a sous vide machine even does. I didn’t belong there.

That is okay. I like food, I like eating it. I like learning about it and once in awhile, cooking it myself. I like writing about that. So I’m just going to keep on going and hope you guys will continue to indulge me.

Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

View Comments

15 thoughts on “My Weekend as a Food Blogger”

  1. hahaha you make me hungry with this, I will visit you in Seattle when I travel to the USA XD But I thought you travel long term and all the time, ouhh I never knew you have a place were you actually live.
    I am sorry for this haha, just very nice post, I love your blog, you are the reason I believe in my travel dreams; you somehow changed me life, ohhhh I will write you a long e-mail or something and for now I leave you a hug.

  2. So I attended last year, having blogged more about food in the past, and with the convenience of it being here in Seattle – I thought I’d give it a try. I had much the same experience as you, which is why I didn’t go back this year. Sure the swag was fun, but the whole thing feels like one crazy infomercial. I’ve been to one other food blogger conference, BlogHer Food when it was here in Seattle, and I have to say that event was way better. The swag was just as good but the overall content was extremely high quality.

  3. Yeah, I would have been slightly annoyed as well, because it sounds like it had potential to be a worthwhile event for sure. I would have expected a weekend of awesome indulgences and yummy goodness. Glad there were some upsides, though. Thanks for sharing — I like the tone you use in your posts 🙂

  4. Everything is right about chicken and waffles.

    If I had the capability of talking about food, I sure would love to food blog too. I don’t, though.

    “It was nice, damn good, freaking excellent,” is about all I can manage to say. How to describe subtle nuances of flavor is lost to me.

  5. Sometimes I too wonder whether my calling in life was to be a food blogger because of the amount of posts I write on the topic, but when I read ACTUAL food blogs, I realize I am lacking.

    I too love to just eat it during my travels and write about it, and that is enough for me 🙂 Thanks for sharing information on this conference I was wondering about it and after reading this I am longing to return to Seattle to eat. 😀

  6. Really interesting to hear about a food blogging conference from a non-food blogger. I will definitely talk a bit about food on my blog but I’m scared off becoming an actual food blogger because I’m just not critical enough, my blog would just be full of ‘this was yum, I would like more.’

  7. I want people to think I’m a food blogger and keep serving me up amazing food but I don’t want to actually do the food blogging bit because I would want to just eat and eat instead of taking pictures at twenty different angles first! Also, I don’t think I could handle the controversy, by the sounds of it (I’m … semi-vegetarian!)

  8. The first line alone is genius.

    “Here’s a little secret about travel bloggers: we all want to be food bloggers”

    So, very true. I have never met an exception.

    I don’t know if it’s when we do one, we think we can do the lot, or if it’s the travel that increases the desire to try more and maybe even awakens the pallet?

    Hmmm… food for thought.

    Love this article.

    Clare 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.