Thursday, April 18, 2013

12 things to do at a food bloggers conference (that you can’t do at home)

Check in.

Conference organizers Mardi, Ethan and Melissa did their homework with the location of the very first Canadian food bloggers conference. Hockley Valley Resort provided us with a rustic, yet comfortable setting, stellar service, and hand’s down the best food I’ve enjoyed at any conference.
Fires flickering in the foyer set a warm, welcoming tone that continued throughout the entire weekend - even when we lost power for a few hours.
It is safe to say that Hockley will be seeing me again, perhaps on a future anniversary getaway, ideally when the garden is bursting and the grapes are ripe on the vine.

Leave the bed unmade.

This part was kind of how I imagine life would be like at Downton Abbey. The clothes I left of the floor were picked up and folded and the bed was made for me – not to mention adorned with a bag of molasses cookies.
Speaking of bed, I wanted to add the whole package - sheets, canopy, douvet, mattress - to my tab and bring it all home. Is a bed considered an incidental? Gosh. That bed was dreamy.
And the view from my balcony? Like Narnia.

Help yourself by helping out

I spent most of Friday playing Santa and channeling Oprah while laughing with a fantastic community of food bloggers from coast to coast. At least that’s what it felt like. It certainly didn’t feel like work. 
We volunteered to help the conference organizers with some of the behind-the-scenes tasks such as stuffing swag bags (above) and registering some 90 attendees (below).
It was humbling to work with these strong Canadian women, each as unique as the province they represented. The conference hadn't even started and I already felt enriched just by knowing them.

Smile, and greet Canada’s finest food bloggers in one afternoon

As registrants trickled up the stairs and over to our table to pick up their name tag and badge, I had to pinch myself to make sure this was really happening. So many familiar faces that I usually see in my Twitter stream were materializing before our booth.

Their excitement was palpable. I'm sure mine was too.

What else can you do at a food blogging conference? Let's keep going.

Kick off dinner with a poutine starter - pommes frites, cheese curd and a red wine reduction. Eat two bowls and treat yo self.

Enjoy some of the finest wine Ontario has to offer, while you listen to gentlemen from the wineries eloquently share their stories of success. Appreciate their Bradly Cooper-ish good looks - and toast with another glass.

Get goofy in the Kitchen Aid photo booth with Canada's Queen of Cookie. Hit up their milkshake bar afterward, because poutine and roast beef dinner isn't excessive enough for one night.

Geek out over session after session of stellar speakers. Appreciate the militia-like manner in which moderator, Allison, keeps everything on track.

Breathe a sigh of relief when your own panel is over. Realize that sharing 9 photos that show your culinary journey wasn't a totally dorky move.

Eat way too many Cherry Bourbon Blondies right before dinner, accompanied by a bottle or two of wine. Relish in friendships that span the country and stand the test of time, yet never grow cold.

Sit next to Corey Mintz at dinner and laugh uproariously for two hours with Jan, Danny, Corey and Marian. Discus making lunch for Ruth Reichl, how Craigslist was the demise of newspapers, dinner parties with kids, and your least favorite body features.

Witness Mairlyn throw food and carry out other capers. Listen to Corey and Dana discuss the merits of horse meat.

Gawk over cookies by Art to Eat. Realize that Adell is even sweeter than her cookies, and that you kind of want to be just like her when you grow up.

Also be impressed by these absolutely incredible Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Cookies made and distributed by Marian of Sweetopia.

Fall asleep on someone's shoulder, but only if you are under two feet tall.


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