Thursday, December 03, 2009

Food Blogger Connect 2009: I came, I saw and They Conquered Me

Food Blogger Connect 

And the euphoria reached it's final peak.

On Saturday 28th November as my flight circled for the third time over London, I felt queasy. Not because of the flight. Moreover because all the bundled elation and frenzy that had conglomerated over the past weeks, was going to burst right at that moment - over London!

Finally, as the plane taxied to it's final halt I let out a sigh! I was here and in a matter of 45 minutes I was going to be living my deepest wish.

After weeks of planning the Food Blogger Connect '09 was finally taking place. The team, with Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets, Hilda from Saffron & Blueberry, Jamie from Life's A Feast, Mowie from Mowielicious and myself, joined forces and began creating an event to bring the food blogger community in Europe together for the first time. It was truly amazing how within a matter of a few weeks we had literally shaped and formed this event. And boy did we have fun - sometimes getting sidetracked but mainly remaining on course. Twitter was on fire, Facebook ablaze - we used every possible media source to voice the event. Soon the RSVPs began rolling in.

A venue was found at the Lebanese restaurant Levant. And that was where I was headed to meet up with approx 70 bloggers from as far away as India! Yes we came from everywhere - Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, Switzerland and India, making us truly connect internationally.

Photography by Kang L Pouring Mint Tea
Photo courtesy: Kang - LondonEater

Hilda, her husband A. and K. the cutest papoose ever, picked me up from Paddington Station and off we headed to Levant. As we entered the elegantly decorated location, Levant was already pulsating with music and conversation. We did not need introductions. We just hugged! Finally real hugs! They were all there: Jamie, Hilda, Jeanne, Sunita, Deeba, Claire, Mowie, Beth, Kerrin, Davina, Allesio, Sarka, Kang, Pam and so many more! After a lot of hugs, squeals of excitement, more hugs and chatter, a beautiful buffet of garlicky and lemony Lebanese food was served.

Photography by Kang L The Food At Levant
Photo courtesy: Kang – LondonEater 

After wine and food Beth got us all together for the official part of the event – the presentations.

Food Blogger Connect The Driving Force - Beth

Jeanne kicked off the presentation round with a description about the BloggerAid Cookbook – a cookbook put together by food bloggers from the blogging community around the world. The funds collected from the sale will be donated to help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Food Blogger Connect BloggerAid Cookbook by Jeanne

I came up next with an out-of-the-box look into food photography and styling. My main aim for this presentation was to get people to think differently. I showed them my unorthodox approach of getting a shot and simple suggestions for everyone who is interested in taking edible looking photos for their food blogs. We talked camera, light, color, texture and of course styling with props!

“Look at your set-up through the camera. Use it like you would a canvas and start coloring that canvas” ~ Meeta

4153541434_c3cc8c728f_oDiscussing “Guerrilla Shooting”
Photo courtesy: Sarka -
Cooking Your Dreams

Kang came into the presentation and provided a look into photography from a different point of view. He discussed breaking the rules and still getting gorgeous shots in low lit situations. This was amazingly valuable and I do not think I have ever gotten my ISO up so high Kang!

Food Blogger Connect  It’s all about light – or lack of it - Kang

Jeanne and Jamie took the stage and discussed writing style and voice. But it went deeper than touching on points like grammar and spell checks. They talked about inspiring the reader to eat, to cook, to live food with words. To be inspired by others but be true to yourself, is what Jamie advised and Jeanne talked about finding out who you are writing for.

“Are you a writer who loves food? Or a foodie who loves to write?” ~ Jeanne

Food Blogger Connect  Writing voice & Style – Jeanne and Jamie

“look at writing for a food blog like organizing your wardrobe. Your blog is like your closet, open it up and see what you have … Find your style, the one that expresses who you are" ~ Jamie

Food Blogger ConnectJamie going through her notes

Kang came up next and told us we are all living in a fish tank. I will never look at social media in quite the same way again! Create our brand and voice it. His candid look into this very important aspect of blogging made us laugh and showed us that blogging should be fun.

“I see myself being part of an interactive fish tank that is uniquely 'alive'” - Kang

Finally Jeanne (again) sped through the value of copyright and what it means - respect other people’s works and your own. Establish and publicize your rights, she said!

Food Blogger ConnectAttentive listening 

We were pressed for time, but realized that there were a lot of questions and feedback! As the afternoon came to an end we knew that there will be an FBC 2010. We’ll be taking a lot of what was learned back home and applying it on our blogs. As part of the organizing team, the 5 of us came away with several ideas for the next FBC.

Awesome tripletsHot Show – The Presenting Trio
Photograph courtesy: Hilda – Saffron & Blueberry
 

The whole event including all the presentations were captured on video by Beth’s truly sensational husband, Chris.

“Football is my Church!” ~ Chris

This video with much more information, like the slides used and round-ups of the speeches will be available at the Food Blogger Connect website. Keep checking for updates. Furthermore, you'll also have the opportunity to submit questions you'd like to ask the speakers, interact with everyone that was at the event, and so much more. We’ll also be providing more details about the next event, Food Blogger Connect 2010, which we are planning as we speak. The dates for those have been tentatively set for June 5th and 6th 2010. It’s going to be bigger, better, hotter and sexier!

Levant Chris The Man and his Camera – Chris
Photograph courtesy: Mowie - Mowielicious

That evening a smaller group got together at Vivat Bacchus for a quaint and lovely dinner. It was just what I wanted - to talk and get to know each other over good food and wine.

I’d really like to go deeper into what I felt about this group but it’ll take me forever. Rest assured they know what I feel! It was like being with old friends and loved family members. Jeanne my secret sistah, Hilda my twin, Mowie my reflecting image, Jamie my grounding older sister, Deeba my reassuring best friend, Beth my wild and energetic kin and Sunita my loving companion! I love you all! You conquered my heart!

Sunday 29th, 2009 – Before we got together with the group again, Hilda and I dropped by at Ottolenghi. A true foodie paradise! I was not allowed to take pictures inside but trust me when I say, I could live there and never come out again! Hilda also took me to the lovely quaint store she recently talked about – egg.

Ottolenghi Sign

Ottolenghi

egg

PS. Thanks for the autographed cookbook Hilda! I’ll be cooking an Ottolenghi feast this weekend.

We then headed on over to Marylebone High Street to meet the rest of the group for a Marylebone Foodlovers walk. We started at the Marylebone Farmers Market, where we managed a few nice food shots and oysters for breakfast.

Food Blogger Connect From left to right: Sara , Pam, Jamie, Deeba. Chris, Hilda, Papoose, Beth, Oz, Alessio, Sunita, Mowie, Sarka

Food Blogger Connect Marylebone Market

Food Blogger Connect Marylebone Market

DSC_0039

Food Blogger Connect Marylebone Market

Food Blogger Connect Marylebone Market

For brunch, which went into lunch, which went into coffee and chai, we ended up in the Natural Kitchen. What a fun time with lots of talk and more laughter! I’d like to thank that cute waiter that waited on all of us. Without a bat of a lash he took all our crazy orders and tried to accommodate all our mad foodie habits. Like 10 cameras clicking away at every single plate that was set on the table.

Food Blogger Connect Deeba & Jamie

Food Blogger Connect Alessio

Food Blogger Connect Hilda & Chris

Food Blogger Connect Ozoz

Food Blogger Connect

Food Blogger Connect - The Natural Kitchen

Food Blogger Connect The Natural Kitchen

Food Blogger Connect The Natural Kitchen

We also found some nice props to go (some not to go but they went anyway)!

DSC_0099 Thanks A.!

We had to say a few goodbyes as Sunita, Deeba, Oz and Sarah left us, I realized that this fascinating weekend was slowly coming to an end! The weather began to match the mood that was taking over me. Wet, cold and somber!

Evening approached but the weather was still not relenting on us. We made our way to the Winter Wonderland & German Christmas Market at Hyde Park. Coming from Germany and having a Weihnachtsmarkt right at my doorstep I got a kick at watching Beth digging into her Bratwürst

Mowie so bubbly and fun, invited us over to his place. We picked up pizzas on the way and I was getting excited to meet "The B”.

Food Blogger Connect

This was truly a grand evening over Schler (no – not Jamie) gingerbread cookies and German pfeffernüsse, we had a ton of fun and laughs. I have not laughed so much nor so hard in a long time. We discussed food, photography and organized our ideas for the FBC 2010. We drooled over rugby boys and gossiped. I fell in love with “The B”.

Thank you B. for allowing 8 crazy food bloggers to take over your apartment. I wish we had more time together!

Before I leave you with the final shot of our last evening together I’d like to say my sincerest thank yous: to all of the folks who made it to the FBC 09. I did not get the opportunity to talk with everyone, which I regret but I hope we’ll be able to stay in touch via Twitter (follow me @MeetaWFLH) and our blogs. But this happened because of and for you! See you all at the FBC 2010!

Thanks to our sponsors for the goodie bags and to my buddies for all the amazing presents. I arrived in London with 15 kilos in my suitcase and left with 22 kilos!!

Finally a huge hug and a thank you to Hilda, A. and K. for giving me a roof above my head and a bed to sleep on over the weekend. Thank you for your generous hospitality!

FBC Group at mine 1 From left to right: Hilda, me, Beth, Mowie, Jamie, Pam, Alessio, Sarka, and Chris
Photograph courtesy: Mowie - Mowielicious

It’s been hard coming down after such a high. But I find solace in not only planning the FBC 2010 with the awesome team, but I am already organizing visits to Weimar in January (hopefully) and in July (definitely) from two of the presenting trios!

I have a very full plate the next few days but I do look forward to seeing you all next week with some sweet treats and the Monthly Mingle roundup I still owe you.

Take care!


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

56 comments :

  1. Meeta, the photo montage is inviting, makes my hungry and makes me want to turn back the clock so I could be there.

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  2. Sounds like such a great event! It is nice to see food bloggers getting together all over the world! :)

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  3. What a great post and what a great time we had together. We nearly got ourselves chased out of restaurant with our flashing cameras. lol! And yes, I too fell in love with sweet and generous B, a real sweetheart putting up with all of us and our rowdiness. :)

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  4. Oh wow honey, what a lovely roundup! You got such great shots at the food market - I love them! And I'm SO glad 'the bottle' has made an appearance - I think most of us from Sunday's lunch will recognize that one! Teehee! Lots of love xxx

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  5. Hey M, it was lovely to meet you too! Such energy you have, its contagious. If you lived in London we would have you over all the time! Hope to see you again soon. The rugby boys are missing you ;-) x

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  6. btw, even I know where THAT BOTTLE comes from! x

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  7. Meeta, that was such a great round up; it was wonderful to meet you. Looking forward to next year.

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  8. ROTFL! Great post! And, you've already managed to put the bottle to good use! You've def got me thinking about props in some unorthodox ways :) Hugs and kisses xx

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  9. Peter M - no turning back the clock - we're looking forward to FBC 2010 so make sure you plan it! Want to meet you!

    Jenn - It really was and we had a ball!

    Pam - HA! The waiter was very patient with us! It was lovely meeting you!

    Mowie - yup the bottle is gonna become fairy infamous around here!

    The "B" - I am missing you and the rugby boys too LOL! If I lived in London we'd never get anything done. You were so gorgeous! I hope we will see each other again

    "the B" again - ssshhh! it was not me!

    Sunita - me too!

    Beth - props are everywhere you just need to look at them from a different angle!

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  10. I like the decoration on the bottle evil twin! I can't describe what it was to finally meet you but you know how I feel, I love all you guys, and the shots at the market are especially nice. Here's hoping I can visit in Weimar soon. xoxo H

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  11. I'm officially jealous ;-p! Wow, that must have been a great experience! It looks like you guys had lots of fun!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  12. What a great event! A great round up with wonderful pics Meeta. I hope to be able to attend the next one!

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  13. Great write-up Meeta, it sounds like you all hit it off, fun is oozing from the pics! Congrats on a super event!

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  14. Awww sounds like you guys had such a great time, I'm glad! :)

    Beautiful photos too!

    xoxoxoxo

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  15. Wonderful to read your reflections, Meeta. Thanks to your photography advice I have taken a handful of much better than usual photos, even in my dark and dingy kitchen. :) Thanks, and I look forward to reading more and keeping in touch. Looking forward to FBC10!

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  16. Such a pity that I only managed to meet you for about a split second on Saturday - looking forward to FBC10 and having more time to meet many more wonderful bloggers!

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  17. Meeta, it all sounds so wonderful. How fun seeing the photos (especially of you and Jeanne!) I really hope that someday I can come for one of these. I told Jeanne I'm already wondering if I can save enough money by June 2010.

    And Ottolenghi! OMG. I have the cookbook and can only imagine how amazing the restaurant must be.

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  18. Great round up Meeta, and as Mowie said, some wonderful pictures in the market. The time went so quick I barely got to talk to you but I'm sure we can make up for that on twitter between now and FBC10.

    I think you've inflicted me with a serious prop habit.

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  19. Looks like you had a lovely time Meeta....i don't have a food blog but you guys have surely inspired me to have one for sure :)

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  20. WOWZA WOWZA WOWZA!!! What a rush and a fabulously good time. And I'm glad that your nausea was from excitement and not sickness, haha ;)

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  21. amazing! i am on a high just looking at the pictures :)

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  22. Fabulous meet Meeta! Gosh U guys had so much fun! U know it feels like none of us really missed it....because u have taken us to through this blogger meet so beautifully ....and the photos are exceptional!


    regards n hugs,
    Veda

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  23. Great post Meeta! You made the event come alive to those of us unable to attend with your descriptions and photos.

    Hope to be there myself in 2010!

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  24. That was some post! Enjoyed the pictures as well:)

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  25. Looks like it was a great event. I would love to have tried some of those dishes ...

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  26. Loved all the pictures, i knew your post will be totally diffferent especially with the pics.
    Loved the pics of the market.

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  27. Some post this is! Read through and loved it :)

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  28. so many awesome pictures and oh we had so much fun! felt like we'd known his other for ages. :) so lovely to have met you and thanks for all the great tips on food photography

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  29. Lovely Meeta...and you are so pretty.

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  30. Fabulous pics and news.Looks like you all had great fun. :)

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  31. Oh Meeta...fabulous coverage of the FBC. Nostalgia's taken hold of me. Beautiful pictures, so much fun, so many memories...wish I had been there on the last day too. Sigh! Love ya girl! MWAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!
    Your pictures are the best!!

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  32. Wonderful coverage indeed! I'll be looking forward to the FBC2010 announcement - who knows, perhaps I'll be able to make it next time!!

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  33. What fun you all had!
    And you looked gorgeous! :)

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  34. Exquisite pictures. I want to go next time. What a great week-end that must have been.

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  35. Wonderful! What could be more fun :D

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  36. Sounds like an amazing event! Great pics and great writing!You guys inspire me!
    :)

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  37. OMG, I'm so late with my comment! Why the crappy internet had to stop working right after the FBC09 where I met so many gorgeous people as you are! Ok, here I'm, finally :)
    Wonderful roundup Meeta! And I love your photos! You are indeed a master of the camera! :) I'm so happy I met you and I had so much fun with you. I wish we could see each other more often. Hugs xx

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  38. Wow! Thanks for sharing the pics. Sounds like a lovely event. Wish I could be there next year :-)

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  39. Amazing, amazing truly amazing...
    all yours pics and the description of the event ! u know i read the post almost3 times...i love your blog and all of your posts... "look at the picture as if its a canvas" that's such a innovative way to put it...
    wow !!

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  40. Wow! Makes me wish I was a European food blogger. Now I have a whole new bunch of blogs to visit and get to know and a true appreciation of how much a dedicated few can do in a short time to bring together food bloggers in the perfect way...not too large or small, good info and time for questions and feedback, true to life experiences at the Convention location and a ton of fun by the looks of it! Usually I dislike conventions, but this one is stellar.

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  41. Wow.. I wish I was there.. so much fun isn't it.. It would be nice if you can share the presentations (especially on photography) through youtube (if you have a video) or your blog.. It would be really helpful for all of us. Thanks

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  42. What a fantastic event - wish I could have been there!!

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  43. Oh, Meeta, I'll forgive you for telling everyone I'm your "older" sister but sister indeed! The Ottolenghi sisters? Yah! And you have truly captured the amazing fantastic time we had, the laughter, the closeness, the love! Your photos are fantastic as are those you borrowed (he) and I do wish we lived in the same city! Then we'd really drive B crazy! Either that or he'd be sucked into the whirlpool of our passions!
    Love you so much, honey bunch! A-Ha!

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  44. And I'd like credit for coining "The B" please.

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  45. Meeta,I loved meeting you! I started reading your blog from the Times online Top 50. I am completely amazed at how down-to-earth and completely genuine the group was and you! As for your photos-AMAZING. I am blessed to have learnt so much, so soon especially about the Lowel Egos. Next FBC, we're going to have a getting-to-know-you/buddying time. Honestly. I'm saving a full day to get to know you and everyone else 1-on-1. Hmmm..more soon and with love!

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  46. I love your Blog, its Beautiful.Some recipe here reminds me so much of my home flavors.Great work.

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  47. Awesome roundup Meeta, you all had so much fun... so jealous!

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  48. thank you so much everyone! so glad you liked my review. it truly was an exceptional weekend!

    sarah - however short it was - it certainly ws great meeting you. happy that some of what i said made an impact LOL!

    Daily Spud - true i hope next year we can rectify that!

    Kalyn - oh it would be too awesome to have you at the next FBC - but you could combine it with your plans to visit weimar!

    sarha - oh sorry i forgot to say it was contagious LOL!

    diva - it was awesome wasn't it? and meeting you was a real highlight for me!

    Deeba - i miss you!!

    Pille - I hope so! really want to meet you!

    Sari - it was wonderful getting to know you and I too had fun spending the time with you. Especially at Mowie's!!

    Jamie, who cares about the years - the fact is that we found each other and came so close. I cherish your friendship and it really feels like you are my sistah!

    Oz thank you for the wonderful comment. i too look forward to just spending more time with you and getting to know you. you were hilariously funny and i love people like that!

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  49. I love all the photos of the event Meeta! It looks like so much fun and I really wish I could have been there too! Looking forward to joining for the 2010 event!

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  50. Sorry I'm late to comment, but wanted to say that this is a great round-up, with so many gorgeous photos. And it was really lovely to meet you and listen to your informative talk!

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  51. Meeta,

    The meeting was one of its kind. Enjoyed reading the narrative on the mingle. Three cheers!!

    Ashwini.

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  52. Hi Meeta! Thanks again for your photography advice. I posted today using the picture I am most proud of so far. :)

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  53. Hello Meeta,
    I just stumbled upon your blog and loved it instantly. There is everything there that I love. I only wish I had found out earlier. All the tips about London and food are excellent. I am in London three to four times a year and will take your hints with me next time. Glad I met you and will be back frequently.
    Greetings from the centre of Germany
    Christa

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta