Food Blogger Connect '09 finally took place at the Lebanese restaurant Levant last weekend, and as great as the food was, as insightful as the speeches were, as lovely as the music in the background was, for me, it was all about the people, a new group we can all call 'family'.
Beth with her hubby - Mr. Bourne Identity himself - Chris
It all started when I met up with Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets for the first time in her Brighton flat after she'd invited me over for dinner to try her divine Mloukieh. We got along instantly, like long-lost relatives, and she confided in me how lonely she felt food blogging outside of the US and how she wanted to create a better sense of community by bringing all food bloggers together. By the end of that week, we'd got a team together consisting of the both of us, Hilda from Saffron & Blueberry, Jamie from Life's A Feast and Meeta from What's For Lunch Honey. Most of the event was planned, and we ended up with a guest list of people that were happy to fly in from Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, Switzerland and India!
Loads more info and photos after the jump:
Jamie, one of the speakers and first to agree to fly in from France
Jamie, of Life's A Feast, flew in on the Friday, the night before the FBC event, and was staying over at ours (Bruce and I) for the FBC weekend. I'd already come to know Jamie quite well from countless emails and our shared guest posts. We had already got along so well, and our friendship solidified over the weekend even more after spending hours yapping away non-stop in our pyjamas until the wee hours of the morning.
On the Friday night, we met at Piccadilly Circus with all those that had flown in already for the event. Beth, Jamie, Hilda, Deeba from Passionate About Baking who had flown in all the way from India, Alessio from RecipeTaster who had taken the train and Eurostar from Germany through Brussels, and Pam from The Cooking Ninja who had flown in from France. We got to know each other better over dinner at Busaba in Soho. Gifts were exchanged, emotions were bubbling and by the time we'd left, we knew that the connections we'd made with one another were more like family than just friends.
That family feeling (and gift sharing) continued to flow all the way through Saturday at the FBC event. As all the food bloggers started to descend upon Levant, the love was palpable! Hugs, kisses, squeals and screams of joy and excitement filled the air. Some of us knew each other quite well already and the rest of us weren't far behind. Christmas had come early this year.
Chris Bourne, ever the professional!
Meeta from What's For Lunch Honey was one of the last to arrive at the event, and I ran over to her and gave her the biggest hug. We didn't really get to chatting until much later, but she was so bubbly and playful, not at all what I was expecting, and once we started to talk, it was like meeting another long-lost family member.
Meeta from What's for Lunch Honey doing a Mowie
The speakers at the event all did an excellent job. Jeanne from Cook Sister! kicked it all off by talking about the BloggerAid Cookbook, followed by Meeta who talked about the colourful and practical sides of food photography. Jeanne and Jamie then took to the stage for a hilarious yet insightful talk about writing style and finding your voice, followed by Kang who talked about shooting in low lit conditions as we all listened rapturously. Jeanne then gave a quick but thought-provoking talk about copyright & law, and Kang ended the talks with a short but sweet speech on social media.
For all these talks, and more, including the slides used, and round-ups of the speeches in printable format, keep checking back to the Food Blogger Connect website for updates. You'll also be able to submit questions you'd like to ask the speakers, interact with everyone that was at the event, and much, much more to come, including all 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. Expect it to be bigger better and sexier.
Beth enjoying her oysters at the Marylebone Farmers Market
The next day, we all met up outside Baker Street's tube station for a Marylebone Foodlovers walk. We started at the Marylebone Farmers Market, walked through a few shops including the gorgeous La Fromagerie, and ended up in the Natural Kitchen for lunch, lots of chat, followed by coffee and orgasmic Drink Me Chai Lattes (which I'm having drinking as I type this up!).
Clockwise from top left: Sunita from Sunita's world doing what we all do best, Sarah from Maison Cupcake doing what we don't do best: picking from a menu, Meeta doing one of the things she does best: food styling, and Papoose doing what she does best: being the cutest baby ever.
Fig cakes at the Marylebone Farmers Market
Clockwise from top left: Alessio looking like he's got a plan to take over the universe, quiches at the farmers market, Jamie shocked by something Deeba said, and an exotic mixed salad at Natural Kitchen
Lovely Sarah again, and Oz from Kitchen Butterfly
As evening approached, we said our goodbyes to Deeba, Sunita, and Sarah, while the rest of us headed for the Winter Wonderland & German Christmas Market.
Once we had our fill of pretzels and bratwurst, we headed back over to my place, and spent the rest of the night planning FBC '10 over take away pizzas, gingerbread cookies, German peppernuts, and lots of laughs.
Pam, Sarka from the beautiful Cooking Your Dream, Jamie, Beth and Hilda
Beth and I, looking almost like we could be related
And that just about wraps up FBC '09 folks! I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone I met and didn't meet - thank you all for coming. Thank you all for your professionalism, your friendliness, your laughter, your support, your kindness and your love.
For any more info on all things FBC, including all the blogger reviews of the event, please see the Food Blogger Connect website, which will be updated by the end of the week. Or alternatively check out (and join) our FBC Facebook fan page, or, if you're on twitter (or not), run a search on the hashtags #FBC09 and #FBC10 for all the latest updates.
Thanks again, and to all those that haven't been interested or part of FBC, I promise to resume normal Mowielicious baking & dessert making duties and posts next week!
Lots of love,