Monday, January 28, 2013

Highlights from the 2013 FoodBlogSouth Conference

As many of you know, this weekend I've been in fabulous Birmingham, AL for the 2013 FoodBlogSouth Conference. FoodBlogSouth is exactly what it sounds like: a conference for Southern food bloggers to get together, network, eat TONS of great food, and learn from the best in today's food blogging world. I've spent so long mesmerized by the food photography of greats like Helene Dujardin, and laughing at the wit of Adam Roberts, that now to see them in person seriously feels like brushing shoulders with celebrities. I got the same nervous twitchiness I got after I stood in line for 45 minutes to meet Alton Brown.

This whole weekend, right down to the detour we made to Auburn on our way home to have lunch with a dear friend, has been nothing short of exceptional. I will remember it my whole life. But there are some parts that just plain stick out and I want to tell you about them. So here we go:

1. 8a.m.: I arrive at the conference. It's exhilarating, but this is hugely important to me and I'm so nervous I make the boys (my ridin' buddies, Adam and Ryan) walk me to the front door like My Two Dads on the first day of school. Breathe.

2. 10a.m.: I've slipped into a seminar hosted by Cynthia Graubart. She's describing how to write a recipe with your reader in mind. She hands out two packets of roast chicken recipes that exemplify what she means. One is celebrity recipes...and one is select recipes from our FoodBlogSouth Recipe Telephone Game. My friends, yours most truly was among those selected!! I was grinning like when Eddie Murphy got some iiiiiiice cream as she read from my blog. I'm sure I looked like a psychopath. Had she not, thankfully, gone on to refer to "Michal Thornton" as "he," (it's cool, I'm used to it) I might well have died on the spot.

3. 12p.m.: I'm starving. We're behind schedule, so lunch isn't quite ready yet. I leave my junk on my seat and go in search of the ice cream samples I've seen people carrying around. Little do I know, I'm about to fracture time into My Life Before This Ice Cream and My Life After. The company is Atlanta-based High Road Craft Ice Cream. The flavor: berry mascarpone. It is, without exaggeration, the best ice cream I have ever had. I made the booth worker tell me twice that they will, in fact, ship to my doorstep.

 4. 1:30p.m.: for a blissful hour and a half, I watch Helene Dujardin of Tartelette and Tami Hardeman (food stylist at Oxmoor House) create, style, adjust, and shoot pictures of the loveliest bowl of pasta ever. I wish Michelle Goldman could have been there, because as a photographer she would get much more out of it than I do (there are moments when I'm pretty sure they abandon English in discussion of camera stuff), but I believe I will be of more use to her now when setting up shots. But y'all, even if I had learned less than nothing, for the rest of my life I got to watch Helene Dujardin do her thing, and that's all I need.

So there you have it. FoodBlogSouth 2013. Loathe to ditch my ridin' buddies, I didn't attend the Pre- or After-Parties, but in spite of that I had so much fun. And so much wonderful food! Thank you, Birmingham, for hosting us. Thank you, Jason Horn for corresponding with me and helping me keep entertained (not to mention for organizing the thing in the first place!) Thank you to the vendors for your hard work and generosity. I've already started making plans for FoodBlogSouth 2014--simply cannot wait.

Photos: stole the ice cream one from the High Road's Facebook page, and the one of Helene Dujardin is from my iPhone. I hope this counts as copyright credit.

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