Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BlogHer Food '09

Who: VN Associate Editor Abigail Young, Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, and Managing Editor Elizabeth Castoria
What: The inaugural BlogHer Food ‘09 Conference
Where: The St. Regis, San Francisco, Calif.
When: September 26, 2009
Why: To get in some offline time with the fantastic food blogging community.

The Scoop: After Friday’s wine-and-tempura tasting party at RN74, I was more than ready for the inaugural BlogHer Food conference to get started. Stepping into the St. Regis hotel, I arrived in time for my personal favorite past-time: goodie-bag collection. A quick check-in garnered me a reusable shopping bag full of edibles, housewares, and fliers, some more applicable than others. My top choice, hands down, was Nature’s Path Peanut Choco' granola bar. I could barely wait for an appropriate snack time. Since not everything was veg-friendly, I took advantage of the donation station, conveniently set up for any goodie-bag discards. Including these donations, 676 pounds of food was donated to the San Francisco Food Bank from the conference.

The morning got exciting as the first round of break-out sessions began, one panel featuring our very own Elizabeth. The packed room experienced a hearty, hour-plus discussion of food blogs’ politics, including hot-topic issues such as veganism, GMOs, class issues, Big Ag business, and more. Kim O’Donnel, fellow panel member and food blogger for True/Slant, also talked about her monthly meatless chats, as well as her weekly Meatless Monday recipe feature, showing the ever-expanding awareness of going veg. While risking nepotism, I will say the discussions resulting from Elizabeth’s own comments were both informative and inspiring.

By lunchtime, our stomachs were growling threats of mutiny, leading us to the gallery room for a conference-wide catered meal.

Colleen, Jill, Lauren, me, and Elizabeth on our way to lunch

Sharing a table with fellow veg-friendly bloggers Jill Nussinow, Lauren Ulm, and Heidi Swanson, we enjoyed a tasty, albeit light, meal, starting with a fresh salad (of course). Romaine lettuce, roasted cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives helped calm the hunger, although it was the mushroom risotto that finally did the trick. Each bite was accompanied by the emcee stylings of chef Rocco Dispirito, who spent the better part of an hour talking up the meal sponsor. Seeing as how we had the veg option and said sponsor wasn’t the most veg-friendly, we decided to talk amongst ourselves about more applicable topics, such as the wonders of Rainbow grocery and the complexities of vegan cheese.

The afternoon continued with more insightful panels covering practical skills, creative development, and theory. It was fun to see such a vibrant community of bloggers gather offline, engaging in a day of discussion devoted to their passion.

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