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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Finding Time in 2013: St. Louis Food Media Forum

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food media forum
 Rather than head to the kitchen to fulfill this month's "Finding Time in 2013" challenge, I decided to fulfill it a little bit differently. The point of the challenge, after all, is to take time to do things I maybe wouldn't normally, and attending the Food Media Forum certainly fell in that category.
fork spoon knife paper
As much as I love blogging, I don't necessarily participate in the blog community as much as most other bloggers. I sometimes forget about Twitter for days, rarely attend blogger meet-ups, and don't really attend blog conferences, unless I win a free ticket there ;)! I couldn't come up with a good reason not to go to Food Media Forum, especially since it was hosted in St. Louis and by some bloggers I know, including my friend Laura.
culinary institute st. louis
The two day conference was hosted at the Culinary Institute of St. Louis, which was perhaps the most impressive part of the weekend. Although culinary school isn't in the cards for me, it was fun to see the classrooms, industrial kitchens, and chat with a few of the students, who gave up their weekend to cook and serve us meals (I may or may not have snagged their chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I plan to try soon!). 
chocolate chip cookies
I'm not going to detail every minute of the weekend, but I did want to highlight a few of my favorite parts. In total, I'm glad I decided to put aside my reservations and go. As extroverted as I am, situations like these often feel contrived and cliquey, but the Food Media Forum definitely did not. Given that it was a much smaller blog conference than most, it seemed easier to meet people and to have discussions in some of the sessions.

So before I get too long-winded, the highlights....
corey woodruff
1. Picking up food photography tips from Jonathan Pollack and Corey Woodruff, two well-known St. Louis photographers. My food photos are one area I continue to want to improve, but haven't dedicated the time to really make those improvements (plus I think some of this is just innate talent, and one I do not have!). These two led photography sessions that made food photography seem very approachable and the guys honestly couldn't have been nicer or more willing to answer questions. 
ali gimme some oven
2. Meeting other bloggers! I was introduced to St. Louis bloggers I didn't even know existed (Live Laugh Rowe, an awesome DIY/lifestyle blogger with a heart of gold, and Tidy Mom, a crazy successful blogger who features everything from recipes to household tips to crafts on her blog). I was able to meet bloggers I've been reading for awhile, but had never put a name and person behind the blog (Stacy from Every Little Thing, Elizabeth from Eating Local in the Lou). And I was able to spend time with bloggers who I think of more as friends than fellow bloggers (Laura from Food Snob STL, Ali from Gimme Some Oven). 
cookie dough truffle
3. Hearing insights from different brands. The conference was sponsored by a number of brands, but I especially loved hearing from Copper River Salmon and Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs. Bloggers get contacted by brands quite a bit, and it was great to hear some of their perspectives on working with bloggers and how these relationships can benefit both the blogger and the brand. Additionally, both Copper River Salmon and Safest Choice provided us with foods featuring their products (my particular favorite being the no-bake cookie dough truffles!)...you can always win us over with edible goodies! 
culinary institute st. louis
I could get more into what I learned in many of the sessions, including tips for styling your food photos, how to optimize the SEO on your site, and how to get started in Wordpress (a switch I've been wanting to from Blogger for years!), but in summary, I left jazzed about the new knowledge I'd picked up, the people I'd met, and the great food they fed us all weekend long. It was absolutely a worthwhile experience, and one I highly recommend if you're a food blogger in the midwest looking for a reasonably priced, non-overwhelming conference!

One Year Ago: Odds & Ends
Two Years Ago: Best of 2011 - Harvest Restaurant
Three Years Ago: Banana Caramel Cake