I am not even sure I can find the words to describe the incredible experience I had at the Food and Wine Conference a few weeks ago. I do want you to know how awesome it was, so today I’m sharing 5 Fabulous Food and Wine Conference Takeaways.
The conference kicked off on Friday with registration and an attendee meet and greet sponsored by Idaho Potato Commission, and they even brought the giant traveling potato. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing a photo with the massive potato, but hey, I was in Florida and it was super hot outside.
After I was checked in and sporting my badge credentials, I headed over to a cocktail party hosted by Gallo family Vineyards. What a treat it was to help the fab Gallo team celebrate the launch of their new Riesling wine, which is delightfully sweet and right up my alley. I am all about the sweet when it comes to wine. It took a ton of willpower to not overindulge in the vast array of cheeses presented for snacking. I love cheese, but since this was not my first Food and Wine Conference rodeo, I also wanted to save room for all the spectacular dishes that were to come in the Taste of Rosen reception that was scheduled next on the agenda.
There are so many fabulous restaurants at the Rosen hotel, that I made every effort to sample as many of the small plate tastings as possible. I feel it’s the sacrifice I must make for being a food blogger. I know. Such a rough life. After some fun time relaxing around the pool with friends I headed up to bed knowing that the next day and a half of conference was going to be jam packed with information. Which brings me to my first takeaway of the conference – make personal connections. Partake in the delectable food, tantalizing beverages, sparkling conversation, take tons of pictures, but mostly just have fun! These are your people.
Saturday kicked off with an enthusiastic keynote with Emily Ellyn, Retro founder of the Rad cooking movement and Whitney Miller, winner of Fox’s show, Masterchef. Their passion and drive for success was captivating and really got everyone pumped up for a day full of learning around managing the social landscape, SEO tips and blog critiques, plus inspirational grassroots, self made business success stories from Michele from Intensity Academy gourmet sauces and Erika from Not Ketchup. This leads me to takeaway number two – build your followers with engagement. One word that always stands out at every blog conference I attend, be genuine. Give your audience authenticity.
Saturday’s lunch break was tailgate party sponsored by with Fields Auto Group, accompanied by good eats, fun photo opps in gorgeously fancy cars, and random photo bombing opportunities.
Which brings me to my third takeaway – be yourself, and discover what your personal and blog brand is and live it. Let it shine through…even when photobombing.
After a long day of learning was nice to take a little to relax before the epic family-style Sunday Supper (served on Saturday). The dinner was excellent, but I was slightly overwhelmed with all the wine pairings. There were five glasses! WOW!
Takeaway four – don’t be afraid of the unknown of wine. I have so much to learn, but loved hearing the basics on how to pair wine and food from the lovely Jenny Hemmer from Gallo Family Vineyards.
My favorite part of Sunday Supper, dessert of course, and tasting the winning recipes from the Dixie Crystals recipe contest.
Sunday’s conference sessions overflowed with live demonstrations including one showcasing hot new OXO kitchen tools, how to butcher a whole beef loin from The Beef Checkoff, how to prepare select beef cuts, and then an informative session filled with tons of food photography tips. My head was spinning, but it was all so cool!
As with many conferences, there were different session options available during certain time frames on Sunday. I wanted to attend them all to learn more about how to better connect with brands, create a media kit, and video tips but I needed to pack up, say goodbye to Sunday Supper friends, and head to the airport to come home.
The entire conference and weekend went by in what felt like the blink of an eye. I spent time with old friends, made new ones, and left with a huge to-do list for my blog/business. Which brings me to my final takeaway – get your own ticket for next year’s Food and Wine Conference.
We’ll be back once again and the scenic Rosen Shingle Creek, and I’m already planning to attend next year. If you want to take your blog to the next level, then you should plan to meet me there.
One last note. I cannot say enough about the generous sponsors of the event! They were all amazing, and as everyone knows, affordable blog conferences don’t just spontaneously happen. They are filled with hard work and non-stop efforts to pull off the impossible, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been a Food and Wine Conference Ambassador this year.