17 November 2011

for the love of food {nz's first food bloggers conference}

From the moment it was announced that New Zealand would be having it's first food bloggers conference, I'd been telling all and sundry about it.  Actually to be exact, telling everyone that moi would be attending NZ's first ever food blogger conference.  I'm sure I repeated myself a little more than a couple of times to some friends and family.

Now I've attended a couple of work-related conferences and managed and work a decent few.  However, none that I've found myself raving on about.  And when the day finally rolled around, it did not disappointment.

As bloggers from around the country started to trickle in, I felt a teensy weensy bit of shyness creeping in - excusable since I've only met a small handful of bloggers in person, that and the knowledge that I was in the company of some amazing bloggers who lived and breathed food more than even I did, who wrote like pros and took exquisite photos.  But it didn't take long for that feeling to dissipate.  NZ food bloggers are some of the nicest and most inclusive people I know.  And before long, we were all chatting and laughing.  There was a lot of 'ahhh...so you are so and so'!  You see most of us have communicated over Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs.  But most use our blog names and not our personal names.  It was lovely to be able to put faces to blogs!

There's not much more to say really about the day that hasn't been already said by some fellow bloggers who have blogged about the conference.  However if I had to summarise it (not that I haven't already gone on and on, on this post), it was to me, a gathering of kindred spirits who wholly understood the love (sometimes obsession) for all things food-related and the need to share that love on our blogs and with people in our lives.  It was a superb day.

The conference venue was hosted by The Tasting Shedthanks!  Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the restaurant or even signage.  I was too busy talking to fellow bloggers and taking photos of food!  Here are some photos I did take on the day. :-)

Here are some of our speakers - Jaco Swart - Rainbow Cooking (on social media), Alessandra Zecchini (on writing for different media) and Emma Boyd - Our Kitchen (on Fisher & Paykel's blog, Our Kitchen).  Andrea Wong of So D'lish was also one of our speakers but I didn't get a photo in - bummer.  Andrea spoke on Web Design & Web Optimisation.

Morning tea!  You really had to be there to see it - a gaggle of food bloggers clicking away with their cameras around the table.  In the world of a food blogger, No food (almost) is EVER consumed before photos are taken.  There was a joke floating about that maybe there should be a conference for long-suffering partners of food bloggers.  There could be a presentation on how to cope with living with a food blogger, managing rumbly tummies and cold food, and having the dining table taken over with photography props!  Maybe even a support group...teeheehee...

And yes, I've decided that a group of food bloggers is a 'gaggle'.  Like geese.  If you've ever heard a large group of food bloggers together, you'll understand.

More chit chat at morning tea.

The cool kids at the back of the class.  L to R: Louise - Pacific Harvest, Sue - Couscous & Consciousness, Sasa - Sasasunakku, Mairi - Toast and Kristina - Plum Kitchen.

Lunch time...

Of all the scrummy food that The Tasting Shed put on for us, I have to say that my favourite was the braised and rolled pig's head.  It was melt-in-the-mouth good.  Wished I had the plate all to myself!

Q&A session after lunch with Vanessa Opera of Food OperaSasa - Sasasunakku, Bron - Bron Marshall and Rosa - The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake.  Some very lively discussions were had!  Why they started their blog, daily number of visitors their blogs get, to make money or not, where to from here...etc etc...

Louise from Pacific Harvest took us through a tasting session of all the different types of seaweed Pacific Harvest offers.  The tasting did not only involve the different dried seaweeds, but also the different ways they can be used; in pesto, puttanesca sauce and making healthy snacks (3 different kinds of dried seaweed + slivers of nuts + sesame seeds + honey to combine it all).  Who would have thought?!  I immediately thought of another way to enjoy this snack - sprinkle over jook (Chinese rice porridge)!

Have you noticed the smartphones and notebooks (i.e. digital not paper) on the table and in many hands?  Conference attendees were flooding Twitter with highlights and thoughts throughout the day, me included.  Bloggers who weren't able to attend followed our tweets.

Finally it was a workshop on food photography given by Bron Marshall.  Bron gave us tips on lighting and styling, which I found very useful.  I was so inspired that I went on a prop-hunting (read: shopping!) exercise the very next day.  Stumbling on the Retro Fair at Greenland the day after the conference was definitely timely. 

The conference also included a wine tasting session at Coopers Creek.  However I hadn't taken any photos during the tasting.  Was too wrapped up with the tasting to remember.  Ooops!

Once the conference was over, most of us drove back into the city for the night's event - a dinner at Cook the Books.  Once there, we were spoilt with fabulous food and as the conversations flowed and night wore on, more food was presented.  I could barely move after all that food.

Towards the end of the night, people slowly trickled out.  Goodnights, hugs and kisses were exchanged, as were promises to visit each other's city/town and future plans made for get togethers.  Until next year!!

What a buzz.

A massive thank-you to Allison (Pease Pudding and Gourmet Gannet) for organising our very first food bloggers conference.  What an amazing job you did!

Last but not least, a big thank-you to all our sponsors below:

Bell Tea Cuisine Magazine
Cook the Books


  1. Great to meet you Shirleen! What a fantastic day, and I agree completely, the braised and rolled pigs head at Tasting Shed was seriously delectable stuff.

  2. Great post - amazing to see things from a new angle! Look forward to catching up in Wellington soon.

  3. Ooh what props did you buy?... seriously how fun is it to have excuse to buy more plates, bowls and spoons?! :-) I can never have enough! Fantastic to meet you too!!

  4. "Hi my name is Andrea, and I suffer from impulsive and compulsive prop-buying."

    I'm so glad that prop-buying is an occupational hazard for all of us and not just me!

    Now... off to the op shop! ;)

  5. Hilarious, Shirleen, I love the idea of there being a support group for partners of food bloggers! Your food photos make me want to lick the screen, for realz. And isn't it great now that we don't all have to feel as shy of each other? I felt exactly the same way, but now the hard part's over and we can all chatter away together as the gaggle that we are. :) Hope to see you soon!

  6. Fabulous recap of the day and wonderful to meet you last week. I'm really enjoying reading about the day and seeing all the photos that are all so different, I missed so much on the day. Hope to see you soon x

  7. Sounds absolutely fabulous! Would have loved to have been there!

  8. @Everyone - thanks for the comments. I think we're going to need a slightly bigger venue for next year's conference! :)

    @Bron - bought a couple of Crown Lynn plates and one of those Regency trios with the teacup, saucer and side plate. Have bought a few more things since then...some old cutlery from various 2nd hand and antique shops. Am sooo pleased! :)

    @Jared - You must come to the next conference. You'll love it! :)

  9. Hey there, great write-up and photos! It's nice reading everyone's accounts of the day, which was super fun. Lovely to meet you!

  10. @Jemma - it was very nice to have met you too! Been catching up on your blog. Love your recipes! :-)


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