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.
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.
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.
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).
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
Discussing “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!
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
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
Jamie 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!
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.
Hot 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!
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.
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.
From left to right: Sara , Pam, Jamie, Deeba. Chris, Hilda, Papoose, Beth, Oz, Alessio, Sunita, Mowie, Sarka
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.
Deeba & Jamie
Hilda & Chris
We also found some nice props to go (some not to go but they went anyway)!
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”.
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!
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.
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