I wanted to share some of the best moments from my recent visit to Food Blogger Connect, a conference set in Battersea Arts Centre in South London over the course of a hot and sunny June weekend.
It offers the chance to come together with fellow food bloggers, listen to expert speakers, take part in discussions and of course get to sample a whole lot of vibrant food and drink.
It was like being at a street food party with a myriad of vendors to choose from. My faves were…
- Powerful coffee from Alma De Cuba to perk us up first thing
- Tender and tasty sliders from Pulled UK
- The most outrageously good take on the humble Scotch Egg I have ever tried that had prawns instead of pork and this incredible coconut and coriander sprinkle…ooh it was good, so i’ll be checking out Crumble to see where I can catch them for further helpings.
- Korean food cooked up by the lovely Choi Boys whose pots of bubbling meats were a delight served up in tortilla wraps topped with kimchi (fermented vegetables with a lovely sour lip-smacking quality) – this is one new food trend i’m going to be exploring further…
- Wines of Lebanon poured a cracking rose
- Oh yes and there were non-stop tequila based cocktails from the party-loving crew at Patron Tequila…. oh my!
There were some very inspiring people speaking at FBC 2014…
The headline act was Yotam Ottolenghi and his business partner Sami Tamimi who chatted very informally in front of a worshipful crowd. They spoke of the heritage of their food, with Sami explaining how Palestinian cuisine is all about sharing and how each dish has a personal story attached with a huge sense of pride that can be easily knocked if you try and adjust the recipe!
Yotam laughed at how his Italian father despairs of how many ingredients he uses in dishes, when he is far more of an Italian purist. I think the long list of ingredients in Ottolenghi recipes are sometimes what prevents people cooking them more often. It’s definitely more weekend cooking material in our house.
Their latest book Plenty More will be hitting the shelves in the autumn this year, and the lowdown is that it will focus further on vegetables and the techniques used to cook them like braising, stewing and roasting. Yotam feels that meat always gets the front row treatment, and it’s time to focus on getting more out of our veg and perhaps trying techniques like roasting cauliflower that you may not have thought of.
Yotam was happy to take questions about his personal life too. He spoke fondly of his son who apparently keeps him amused with his taste in food – his latest trick is to dip his dummy in their coffee!
It was such a relaxed session you could easily forget that these guys are the hottest names on the food scene. But their star power was in full effect as a clamouring queue of food bloggers immediately formed when they finished speaking to get their photos taken and books signed.
The other speakers who made an impression on me were:
Dan Suh who gave an often hilarious talk about how Korean food is the next big thing to hit the street food scene in the UK. This may have involved spoof videos of Gagnam Style… but it also inspired me to track down more of this delicious cuisine next time i’m in town.
The bearded and adorable Tom Reaney of Burger Bear spoke about he managed to crowd fund his business to the tune of £30,000 in just 15 days – super inspiring stuff and a lovely looking burger joint that brings disco along for the ride. Worth checking out.
I loved the enthusiasm and practical advice from food writer Monica Bhide about creating an effective Media Pack to promote your blog.
And finally the super lovely Babette Pepaj of food network Bakespace.com who gave an engaging session about the world of publishing, with lots of useful advice about creating ebooks, working with brands and using Google+.
It was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere and whether you knew people or not everyone seemed approachable and up for a chat.
I travelled to the conference with my lovely friend Helene of Croque Maman, who I met doing the Food Photography Course at Leiths. It was a pleasure to catch up with old friends and Food Blogger Connect stalwarts Sarah of Maison Cupcake and Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. I caught up with Urvashi of The Botanical Baker who i’d not seen for moons and I finally got to meet the brilliant Jac who writes my favourite vegetarian blog Tinned Tomatoes – what a top lass!
And finally I loved meeting Sarah who runs her own baking business and writes food and lifestyle blog Taming Twins – you must check it out and her totally adorable Instagram – it should come with a cuteness overload warning!!!
If you’ve got a food blog and are relatively new to the scene I highly recommend going along next year as it’s brilliant for networking, tapping into trends and technology and getting lots of expert advice. The food, drink and socialising aren’t too shabby either 😉
With thanks to UKTV’s Good Food Channel for sponsoring my ticket to attend Food Blogger Connect 2014
If you want to see what other people have written about this year’s Food Blogger Connect then why not check out: