Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle


The Great People at IFBC


Last weekend was IFBC (International Food Blogger Conference) here in Seattle. Now that IFBC weekend is over, and I’m recovering from information overload, I want to recap my experience. I thought I’d divide it up into two chunks – the food and the people. Because both were fantastic and inspiring!

I went with a friend, Kristin, and she introduced me to so many people. She even got me invited to a brunch at All Recipes (which was awesome)! As a relatively new blogger in the community, I suddenly feel connected to my fellow bloggers. Yay! If you are thinking of coming to IFBC next year (and you should, it’s in Seattle again!) I strongly recommend it. And at $95 for active bloggers, it’s easily the best value in town (not even including the fact that I got at least that much in swag and samples.)

I attended at least one excellent talk on every day. You know, there are always some talks that are better than others, but I was impressed at the range of topics and depth of knowledge presented. Dorie Greenspan was the keynote speaker on day one. She talked about the passion that food writing requires, and I think everyone in the room was inspired by her motto, “say yes and follow your dream.” She also pointed out that she’s lucky because she’s worked hard. I like that; I’ve always believed we make our own luck. And while I’m not a big baker, I can see why people flock to her, and bake along on Tuesdays with Dorie. She is so genuine and charming.

Dorie Greenspan and a rapt audience.

Dorie Greenspan and a rapt audience.

Day two had multiple great talks in a row, the first was a session with a demo by Chef John Mitzewich of Food Wishes, and food photographer Andrew Scrivani from the NY Times. This session was really fun, and Andrew’s photos are absolutely gorgeous. I was stunned to hear the amount of work that goes into every shot! I also got some great tips about lighting and composition.

Andrew also lead smaller session about workflow, and how to stay professional and organized in an artistic field. While a lot of this talk was over my head, it was a great reminder that writing and photography takes discipline.

"The posture of a food photographer." Conference participants using natural light to photograph Chef John's salmon dishes.

“The posture of a food photographer.” Conference participants using natural light to photograph Chef John’s salmon dishes.

Finally, on Sunday morning, journalist and chef Kim O’Donnel led a writing workshop. She talked about how food connects us all and is a reflection of society and the world. Her talk was relaxing and uplifting. Then we did a few timed writing exercises. One was to write out a recipe for pb&j in 5 minutes. It was hard but fun; you should try it! I volunteered to read mine in front of the room, with Kristin acting out my instructions. Nervous! But everyone was supportive, and the criticism I received was thoughtful and made a lot of sense (like to include yields, which I always forget!). It’s humbling to be in a room with such accomplished cooks and writers, and I am grateful for everyone’s interest and kindness.

Kim O'Donnel reading to us at the start of her session. She read from literature about food and eating.

Kim O’Donnel reading to us at the start of her session. She read from literature about food and eating.

After this conference I definitely feel connected to the blogging community. We spent the weekend talking about food and writing, two of my favorite things. I think I even made a few new friends, and certainly found a bunch of new blogs to read. You can expect links to their work, because I’m already having fun reading them!

Kristin and I went to lunch at Lecosho on Saturday. We are standing on the Harbor Steps here.

Kristin and I had lunch at Lecosho on Saturday. We are standing on the Harbor Steps here.