IFBC 2010, or What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Stepping out of the airport a chilly breeze carries the scent of salt water as well as a delicious shiver of anticipation down my spine.

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Images from Pike Place Market

I have arrived in Seattle for the International Food Bloggers Conference and consumption is the only thing on my agenda.  Before me stretches three days of excellent of food, wine, beer and knowledge.  I intended to partake fully.  Gluttony of this sort is not out of bounds, in fact I expect 249 other food obsessed people to feel the same.   In this moment I allow myself to live the glamorous delusion that there is no Monday, and no return to real life.

During the strangely intimate cocktail reception held in the dimly lit subterranean rooms of the Hotel Monaco, amid the crush of other like-minded individuals angling for savory nibbles, clinking glasses of wine, and bags bulging with swag, I have my first taste of what is to become an obsession.  Bliss, thy name is Theo Chocolates.

Carefully I select my matte, mahogany prize, a Ghost Chili Caramel that promises a spicy sweet reward from the flecks of ruby chili on top, and place it on my tongue.  Slowly the warmth of my body melts the creamy confection, and a symphony of flavor compounds are released that wrap me in a cocoon of theobromine bliss before the tingling burn of the chili flashes across my palate.

Hold it … wait … I can’t do this.

On Writing:

What you have just read is me trying too hard to write with a voice that is not my own.  I want you, dear reader, to feel as if you are sitting in my kitchen while I prepare dinner and prattle on about one thing and another.   While I feel I can improve as a writer, I’m not changing who I am!

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On Photography:

Penny De Los Santos, who presented a beautiful slide show of her work, gave what I consider to be the best presentation at IFBC.  From her I learned that I am far too comfortable with what is comfortable, if that makes sense.   I need to explore more angles, give my food more space, I need to get ‘inside’ the food, and I should stop ‘taking’ pictures and start ‘making’ pictures.  Honestly, I struggle with my photography.  Will I get my food to come across in the most appealing way?  What props should I use?  Does it look too much like every other shot in my portfolio?  Will I get to eat the food before it is stone cold?

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Images from IFBC 2010

A funny thing happened after Blogging Ethics:

If you were following #IFBC on Twitter you know that there was a great deal of snark, humor, and *ahem* sexual innuendo during many of the panels.  Get a bunch of over fed, over stimulated bloggers together with the ultimate instant social media tool and what you get is some of the funniest, and most creative, live blogging ever.

Anyway, during the panel on Ethics one of the panelists, Robin Goldstein of Fearless Critic Media and Blind Taste, became something of a fan favorite.  Maybe it was the high ratio of women to men, perhaps it was the wine served with lunch, or perhaps it was the remnants of the sexual tension inspired by the  ‘lemon porn’  written during the Writing with All Five Senses panel, but mid-way through Robin’s part of the discussion (“Recent Advances in Bullshit Reduction”) the Twitter feed nearly exploded with unrestrained lust.

There was breathless panting all around me.  “He’s so hot,” one woman gushed.  Twitter was much the same, if a little worse.  I will be quite honest … I did not get it.  He is very cute, as you can see from the picture on his site, but I did not get the vapors and quite bluntly said so.  For example:

I think that sometimes hotness is amplified based on the ratio of men to women … #IFBC #NotTHATHot


Not saying he is not hot, just not epic hot … he is no Gerard Butler :D. #JustSaying #IFBC

After the panel my friend Linda from Salty Seattle met Robin and, after some discussion about the Twitter feed, brought him to meet me.  I will admit I was slightly flustered,  unprepared as I was for this face-to-face meeting.  Not knowing his reaction to what I said I steeled myself for some sort of rebuke, but he was very kind.  In fact, he was sort of amused and was nice enough to call me ‘feisty’.  I said to his face what I said on Twitter, that he is cute but I was not melting in my seat for him.  We laughed about it, and I truly hope he was not offended by my candor, but I stand by my words.

Moral of the story:  If you write it on Twitter you MUST own it in real life!

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Other things I learned, in no particular order:
  • Do not give anything away for free!  If they want your work, recipes or pictures, they should pay.  Ask around for the going rate, and do not be afraid to negotiate.
  • Bloggers are a very carnal people, and if you get enough of them blogging on the same topic the discussion will inevitably turn to sex.  I love them all for it!
  • If you want to be published you have to do one of three things:  First, stalk the publisher relentlessly.  Second, give them bribes (apparently chocolate works).  Third, use what connections you have to get your foot in the door.  (For the record, I do not see myself doing any of these)
  • If you wondered if it is REALLY about who you know … rest assured, it is.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Your writing voice is you, only a better, more interesting you.
  • Sometimes when you have too many beers, and you are having fun with a great group of people, a spelling mistake can turn into a movement!  (Ruke!)

So, what did I think of IFBC?

I think these kinds of events are what you make of them, and I tried to make the most of my time there.  What I am taking away with me, aside from some knowledge, is a group of new friends.  It is exciting to bond over food, drinks, and laughs.

Overall, it was an excellent experience that I would gladly do over.  Yes, there were moments I found insipid, and even insulting, but those were balanced by things that inspired me in ways I did not expect.

© 2010, Evil Shenanigans. All rights reserved.

Author: Kelly

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  • I love your write up and I love you! I’m so glad we finally met!!

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  • Great review! Oh how I wish I could’ve attended! Maybe next year.

  • Debriefing moment…soon… you…me… Donna…chocolate…be there..whereever there is… 🙂

    Seriously..glad you had a good time…interested in picking your brain.

  • Gorgeous photos!

    Finally, someone writing about the Twitter feed during IFBC. It was pretty outrageous at times. Maybe that’s why Barnaby did not display the comments on the second day.

    Re not giving away your work for free…there are pros and cons. I wrote a post about it when I got back, and people have been pretty cool about what a complex issue it is.

    Will add your blog post to the list at the bottom of mine.

  • It sounds like a great experience, I wish I could have gone. You are a clever and funny writer, keep it up, thanks for sharing!

  • It was great to finally meet you in person at IFBC!

    And yes, anyone really into food, tends to be pretty hedonistic about everything! In the right hands (or mouth, as the case may be) food is a sensual delight, as we learned in the Writing with All Five Senses panel. Who knew a lemon could be so stimulating?!

  • Love it! Perfect recap!

    And as one of the ones who did think Robin was smokin’ hot (and you’re right, not Gerard Butler hot, but when you add in the cute nerd factor and well-pronounced Italian, his hotness quotient did increase by a factor of 20), and who had no problem proclaiming it to all of the IFBC and Twitter, I agree that you MUST own what you tweet! It wasn’t until that session ended and the temperature of the room cooled down a bit that I realized I really have no inner monologue. Especially after a bit of good wine…

    Fortunately, Robin was extremely gracious about the um… “aggressive” tweeting. 🙂

    Loved meeting you! RUKE!

  • Kelly it was, as always, a pleasure to hang out with you! Your snark and wit made some of the less interesting sessions much more fun! Great recap 🙂

  • I love your take on IFBC 2010. I’m with you. I am who I am. I hope my writings interest people, but if they don’t I’m not going to pretend to be Nora Roberts! lol…
    Thanks for sharing this event with us.

  • Great report, Kelly. Very helpful (in addition to the very helpful and entertaining tweets of yours during the conference!). I’ve always loved your candor and you know that. 🙂

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  • Awesome post, Kelly! I’m so glad you really enjoyed the conference and were obviously a great representative from the Big D!! I was right to be jealous…you all sound like you had a blast (oh, and like learned some stuff too)!

  • “…a symphony of flavor compounds are released that wrap me in a cocoon of theobromine bliss …” HAHAHAHAHA! I luff you!

    Kelly, you wrapped it up in a bow. I’ve now got no idea how I’m going to write about this weekend, but I will say that you helped make it a true joy!


  • Great write up (and photos)! I was most interested in your takeaway on the “how to get published” category. As one who is approached by food bloggers often, I can tell you I’m glad you don’t see yourself stalking/bribing/using connections, ’cause that’s not what works, at least from my point of view. It’s all about a blogger/writer offering what we need at the right time — it’s not personal, it’s about fit!

  • Loved the write-up :o) and the pictures!!!! I still think you should pitch a book about Twitter and food blogging. And I am still trying to figure out if I can get my butt to TX for the state fair because I hear it #rukes

  • Carol – You are too cute, and WAY too much fun! RUKE!

    Lisa – Yeah, I am more of a get published because of the ‘merit of my work’ not ‘my ability to kiss boo-tay’. 🙂

    Renee – Oh, I luff you too and was SO glad to meet you in the land of reality! *muah* *ruke*

    Natalie – Thanks sweetie!!

    Leela – I do know, and I thank you for it!

    Eileen – Yeah, Nora Roberts I ain’t … I feel like such a phony when I write that way!

    Mardi – Was a pleasure to see you again!

    Kimberly – You RUKE! Sorry you missed your flight, but I loved sharing one last dinner with you!

    Cheryl – You are just lovely and I am so pleased to have met you at long last!!

    Tiffany – You are very kind! Thank you!

    Dianne Jacob – Yeah, the payment issue was a hot topic. Since one is asking for my work yet, I really can’t say what I would do! 🙂 Your photos are AMAZING!

    Marye – Lunch, soon … absolutely!

    Emme – Thanks!

    Alice – I just adore you! So glad we got to meet!

  • It was such a pleasure to get to spend time with you at IFBC… I loved reading your perspective of the event. Great post and summary. I think we got a lot of the same things out of it… And yes, you must always be prepared to own up to your tweets! 🙂

  • Ruke!

    This makes me want to go straight back and do it all over again. Food bloogers.. they just… they GET it. Hope to see you again really soon!

    (ps I still contend that Robin is super hot. just sayin.)

    (pss you’re totally feisty. rawr)

  • Love your wrap-up, and LOVED your tweets during the conference! Girl, you are a hoot.

    I am cracking up that you had to explain to Robin to his face that it’s not that you don’t think he’s cute, just not *super hot* cute.

  • I’ve really enjoyed all bloggers’ write-ups of IFBC, but I’ve enjoyed yours the most. Your tips are especially helpful.

  • Wow – for a moment, I believed you, your first paragraphs. I said to myself, oh alright, she’s one of THOSE poetic writers 😉 Well, even though it’s not the real you, at least you can tell yourself you can turn it on when you need it, which I don’t think is my case!

    In a way, I’m glad I was a witness of the Robin/Kelly confrontation because I would have melted (if not DIED) on the spot and would have never been able to get out of the situation as graciously as you did. Good job – and you’re right, you have to own up to what you write on Twitter. It’s easy to communicate your opinion (good or bad) in writing but much tougher to be able to articulate it in person. I admire you for that!

    Again, I’m really happy to have met you, you’re definitely one of the highlights of my weekend. Cheers! 🙂

  • GREAT write up and well-said! Wasn’t Penny the best? I met her a few months ago at a photography workshop and fell in love with her work and style. I missed the talk with the hunky lawyer but I heard ALL about it.

    Joy and I were just catching up a bit and are equally not pleased that we NEVER found the cupcake we were looking for???!!! Where were you????? 🙂

  • SO glad to have finally met you- you’re just as sweet as I thought you’d be 🙂 Great re-cap. You’re hysterical 🙂

  • I followed your tweets all weekend long. SO FUN:)

  • It was SO great to finally meet the Cupcake in real life. Fantastic post, Kelly, and it was definitely wonderful to get to know you over the weekend. You absolutely ruke, and don’t ever think otherwise. 🙂

  • Nice tips!! I enjoyed reading the Twitterfeed from the photography session, really interesting info! I am the same way, I worry the food will get super cold, I worry when I don’t have good natural lighting, or my kitchen lighting seems harsh, I hate the idea of using harsh camera flash, and most of all, when I’m taking photos in a restaurant, I find the lighting to be WORST OF ALL! I still haven’t come to a conclusion on how to photograph in those conditions. Please let me know if you talked about bad lighting you can’t control 😀

  • Victoria – The only light tip we got was to shoot in natural light. Sadly, that is not an option for me most of the time. I use Ego lights now, and before that I made a light tent. They help with lighting issues.

  • Great review and a mountain of photos! Sounds like you did have a great time! I did like that you were concise. As much as I wish I could somehow absorb the information that those attending did, it’s *yawn* a bit boring to read 3-part posts about it. Just saying. I want to get back to the food!

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  • Enjoyed your write-up and photography recapping the IFBC weekend,especially the points on what you learned.

    You’re so right about Twitter, a couple of times I jokingly tweeted some things and I think it was very much misunderstood…got to be careful not to be misread and “owning up” to all your tweets!

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  • Oh, good!!! I read the first section of this post reciting to myself something I recently read: “If your writing sounds like writing, then re-write it.” Glad to see it was a, er, demonstration. 😉

    I’m going to IFBC 2011 in NOLA and just dropped by to see what you thought. Thanks for sharing.

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