Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference - Catalyst for Change #FBC2013


If you're passionate about food and writing, the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference is the perfect event for you. 

This may sound crazy to some, but this conference was an awakening of sorts for me.

I've been to several Social Media conferences and events in the past few years as both an attendee and as a Brand Ambassador for several brands. Though I learned a lot from each event and really enjoyed all of them, the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference had me very, very excited.

The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference has Canadian food bloggers covered.

By providing content, educational resources, sessions led by highly esteemed members of the food industry (food writers, cookbook authors, food television personalities, food photographers, food stylists, chefs, etc), the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference offered great tips, insight, and inspiration to its attendees.

I have to admit that I felt a bit like a school girl does when she sees her favourite stars/celebrities/idols in person.  Anyone who is a foodie follows Dana McCauley, Heather Travis, Mairlyn Smith, Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, Mardi Michels, Julie Van Rosendaal, David Leite, Adell Shneer, Dianne Jacob, Mary Luz Mejia, Corey Mintz, Jan Scott and all the other foodie superstars present at FBC2013.

Dana McCauley is the person to follow for food innovation and food trends. I met her for the first time at the ShesConnected Conference two years ago and then when I was an official food blogger for Food Network Canada's Recipe to Riches, our paths crossed again - this time in the Twitterverse!


Heather Travis has got to be one of my absolute favourite people in the world. Why? She represents the many beef farming families in Canada like my own family. I've been done guest posts on the Canadian Beef blog for Heather and am now a Canadian Beef Ambassador. This means a lot to me, as beef farming is my family's livelihood. Being able to bridge both worlds of farming and the every day consumer and showing consumers that we are the faces behind the food people eat really is important to me.


Mairlyn Smith just blows me away by her amazing presence. I was a bit caught off guard when I met her at Food Bloggers of Canada. I wanted to tell her that I really love seeing her on BT Toronto and CityLine. I'm not sure, but the words conveyed may or may not have come out as something like "OMG. I love you. I can't even talk right now because I'm such a big fan!"  You know...things that people in Mairlyn's position probably hate hearing all the time.

One of the highlights of Day 1 of the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference for me was meeting Aimee Wimbush-Bourque! I follow her blog, Simple Bites religiously. In truth, I aspire to be like her some day. Aimee is able to tell a story with her stunning photographs. Her posts are beautifully written. She makes food blogging an art form. She creates beauty with her cooking, her writing and her photographs. You know when a writer's words "move" you? That's exactly what Aimee's posts do. They tell a story while weaving together a beautiful tapestry of words and photographs...and these images stay with you. Her love of food and of creating beautiful, healthy meals for her family really inspires me.

This also applies to Mardi Michels and Jan Scott. Both are food writers I am a huge fan of. Mardi's talent extends to more than just making macarons, though she had me at macarons! Mardi is a woman of many talents. Visit her blog, Eat.Live.Travel.Write.

I sat at the same table as Jan at dinner on the first night of FBC2013. I was amazed at how personable, helpful, and humble she was. Not to sound like a total blog stalker, but you have no idea how amazed I am by such talented ladies like Jan. I guess it's safe to say that the recipes, food photography and and just the way my food blogging heroes tell a story = recipe for success and inspiration. Read Jan's posts over at Family Bites.

My roommate, SoberJulie sat on her bed in the hotel listening to me gush about all the amazing food bloggers  and food personalities present at Hockley Valley Resort. I couldn't contain my excitement and she probably thought I was nuts. Honestly, because I love blogging about food so much and I love following the above mentioned food writers, this is a big deal to me.

I remember calling my husband from my hotel room and whispering, "Oh. My. Gosh. Julie Van Rosendaal is here at Hockley Valley Resort! Julie from Dinner with Julie! You don't even understand! I can't even talk to her...I'm so starstruck!"

Of course, my husband's response was, "That's great, hun. Just remember, they're just regular people in the end." Is he kidding?! It's Julie from Dinner with Julie!

Keynote speaker, David Leite's words will stay with me for a long time.
  1. "No comment left behind."
  2. "Find out what you stand for and don't waver."
  3. "Be ethical to other bloggers. Be ethical to the people you write about. You have responsibility esp when it comes to Children" @davidleite
  4. keynote speaker at "Be authentic. Be ethical...to each other."
I could have probably retweeted everything he said. I was just wowed by his words. Total and utter respect.  If you don't already follow David, check out Leite's Culinaria.


What caught my attention this weekend at the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference:


  • Bloggers and Brands - best practices for a happy partnership 
  • Making Dough - earning a living with your words
  • Publishing - the many chapters of writing a book
  • Recipe Development 101
  • Food Photography and Styling for your blog
  • Bookkeeping for Canadian bloggers
  • Future trends in Canadian food blogging
When it comes to recipe development, you need to test your recipe over and over...and over. Make sure it's fool-proof. I'm guilty of only testing twice (three times max) before I post a recipe. I learned a lot from the Recipe Development 101 session. 

Of course, if using aspects of other people's recipes, you need to credit or acknowledge the recipe owner. We all know that by not doing so, it's stealing. I was surprised to discover that not everyone credits others for recipes they've "borrowed". A definite faux-pas!

Another session I thoroughly enjoyed was the Food Photography and Styling session. Wow! You will not see any ugly, mediocre food pics on this blog from now on. I'm by no means of the same caliber of food writers like Aimee Wimbush-Bourque or Julie Van Rosendaal, but one thing they taught us is the importance of spectacular food photos. 


Robin Sharp, Adele Hagan and Julie Van Rosendaal taught us how to style food for photography using simple but attractive set ups with natural and artificial light. They also taught us some surprising tricks of the trade! Who would have thought that oil or water would be something to keep handy for taking photos of food?
That Mairlyn Smith sure is bendy!

Highlights of the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference:


  •   Meeting and chatting with Mairlyn Smith!
  •   Hanging out with some of my favourite tweeps (bloggers I've been friends with for ages now) - @SoberJulie @MapleLeafMommy @MBAMamaMusings @Sherriemae23 
  •   Being able to get to know friends better - had a blast with @GreatMealIdeas 
  • Having a little #LoveCDNBeef @CanadianBeef Ambassador reunion with @HeatherTravis @AlexaClark @neilfaba @FoodMuser
  • Catching up with some special people @MBosc @JanesFamilyFd  @BurnbraeFarms (I love meeting up with these folks at events like this! It's nice to see familiar faces)
  • Having the opportunity to speak with brands I love and would love to work with more @summerfresh @mushroomscanada @NordicWare @KitchenAidUSA @KraftCanada @CampbellCanada @deltafaucet @CdnLentils @TastyTurkey, +EatInEatOut Magazine, Tree of Life and more.




You've got to check out Adell Shneer's Art to Eat. Incredibly beautiful edible art. Her cookies are works of art and are as stunning as she is! 
  • Just being able to attend such a fabulous, enriching conference was special for me. As a Canadian Beef Ambassador and as someone whose family helps put food on the tables of Canadian families, it was a great experience for me to be able to see things from so many different perspectives when it comes to food writing. 

Corey Mintz and the Corey Mintz Fan Club




The Food Bloggers of Canada Conference inspired me to take my blog in a new direction.

Part of me loves the fact that I am a parenting, family and lifestyle blogger who writes a lot about food. I love blogging about creating meals with local ingredients, since we do live on Manitoulin Island. I come from a culturally diverse background, so injecting some "flava" into our dishes with local ingredients is always exciting. Manitoulin style Poke and Manitoulin Bulgogi are common in our home! 

This said, I feel the winds of change coming. I've been wanting to focus more on only the things I am passionate about. Family, food, love, and feeding my family wholesome home-cooked meals. Living on a working beef farm with my family enables me to feed my family the way I want to -- with food from the garden to the table.

I have this lofty idea to start blogging about trying to grow our produce YEAR-ROUND and try not to buy too much produce from overseas. We've got a greenhouse attached to our kitchen that provides passive solar energy to heat our home in the Winter. I start my seeds in there, but that's about all I use it for. 

Thanks to my weekend at Food Bloggers of Canada, I'm inspired to utilize our greenhouse more and also learn  how to grow a lot of our fruit and veg even in the cold Winter months. I know I'm going to have a few fails, but the beauty of blogging our journey is that you guys can join me through our food journey. 

A big thank you goes out to Ethan, Mardi and Melissa for putting together an event of such greatness! You have absolutely no idea how you have inspired and cultivated change. Many thanks for all you have done.


16 comments:

Kelly Prince said...

*Sigh*... next year!!! Thanks for sharing! Glad you had a blast :o) xo

Christine McN said...

Kelly:
Thanks so much! It was fabulous! I only wish you were there with me, my friend!!! Hope your birthday was spectacular! Let's have a phone date in the next few days, k?

Sober Julie said...

WOW sistah what a FAB recap of a awe-inspiring weekend. You've captured so much of it so well...it was a pleasure to be by your side witnessing you coming to your realization. I just know you're going to flourish as you delve into your first love here on your blog.

Robyn said...

Great recap! I, too, am a Dinner with Julie fangirl. I told her that her post on Skillet Strawberry Jam changed my life and she gave me a big hug. Loved the spirit of community last weekend.

Helene Peloquin said...

What I liked about the Stars is that they were approachable and we were able to actually sit down and talk to them. I don't know if this is possible at every conference because it was my 1st. The excitement to meeting them face to face is hard to describe. I am still on Cloud 9 :) It was very nice to have the chance to get to know you during the w-end.

A Canadian Foodie said...

What a lovely, lively post packed full of energy, enthusiasm and passion! I am sad we didn't chat at the conference, but can already picture you and Julie in the bedroom as you raved about your excitement. the FBC team really did stack the deck with the best presenters we could ask for. SO glad you came and lovely to visit your site again.
:)
Valerie

Julia said...

Great post and I know you will be amazing at sharing your story no matter what that story is. I can't wait to see how your blog evolves.

Jan @ Family Bites said...

Thank you so much for your sweet, sweet comments - I'm flattered. But really, it was a pleasure to meet YOU and I'm so glad you were there last weekend.

Christine McN said...

Julie:
I spoke to several people as we were leaving the conference and so many had said the same. FBC2013 has inspired change in the way we blog, what we choose to blog about, etc.I am so thankful the opportunity to be present at this event.

I don't think the change will happen immediately for me. I still have a few sponsored posts I have agreed to doing. Until I finish those, I won't be starting this new venture. Soon though!

Christine McN said...

Robyn:
It's so true! The spirit of community was ever present on the weekend. It was like none other I had experienced. I didn't notice any egos, one-upmanship, cattiness, or anything. Everyone was just so humble and so helpful. It was so refreshing. I say this because I have been to events where attendees and speakers have inflated egos. This was a breath of fresh air.

Christine McN said...

Helene:
I am so thankful to have met you. Thanks to the power outage at Hockley Valley on Friday, we were all able to get to know each other better. If not for the power outage, I'm sure we'd all have gone to our hotel rooms and holed ourselves in there until dinner time!

You are so lovely! Please keep in touch!

bridgetsgreenliving said...

I love your idea of using your green house year round. I look forward to following your progress!
-Bridget

Redawna said...

What a fantastic recap of the events of the weekend!

I am so glad I made the trip to Ontario. I absolutely loved your province and I could see myself living there in a heartbeat.

I know we all walked away not only inspired but excited to change the face of Canadian food blogging and improve upon what we have. What an amazing community we are!

Christine McN said...

Valerie:
If there's another conference next year, I hope we get to meet up and chat! I love your blog, by the way!

Christine McN said...

Bridget:
Thank you! I'm excited about it! Hoping to get some posts in soon!

Christine McN said...

Redawna:
Yes! Amazing community indeed! Love how everyone I met that weekend really inspired and uplifted me. So happy you were able to make it! You traveled a long way to get to the conference! :)

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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