Where do I begin?
That’s been the thought on my mind since my absolutely mind-blowing weekend at Food Blog Forum Orlando this past weekend. Wait. What? I didn’t tell you?
I know, I know. I left without a word. I had good intentions of posting while I was away. I even edited and uploaded the photos for several posts that I’d planned. But when I got to Florida, there was so much going on that I decided to just take a breather and focus on where I was. There was just so much to be learned at Food Blog Forum in Orlando and I soaked it all in eagerly.
If I had to choose just one word to describe my weekend at Food Blog Forum in Orlando it would be inspiring. But I am not sure that inspiring is a strong enough word for the amazing conference that I just returned from. Because it’s one thing to be inspired and an entirely different thing to be inspired and driven to action. I am the latter. I returned from the conference with so many wonderful ideas and thoughts and plans and I can’t wait to put them all into action here on Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Hopefully it will all take this little blog that I’ve poured my heart and soul into for nearly seven years and make it even better. There is always room for improvement, and I think its important that we be open to it.
Food Blog Forum kicked off on Friday with an opening reception just outside of the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World. There were tables of artfully displayed appetizers and desserts. It was beautiful and breathtaking. And the conversation? It was more than I ever hoped for. I met and chatted with a number of eloquent women who share my passion for food. It ended before I was ready for it to.
On Saturday, the conference kicked off bright and early at EPCOT at Walt Disney World. How awesome is that? I practically had to pinch myself as we were escorted through the not-yet-open EPCOT to the conference space. EPCOT is beautiful — especially at this time of year when the EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival is happening. To see it when the park was just waking up and preparing to open was unbelievable.
But Food Blog Forum was so much more than where it was held. It was about becoming a better photographer, writer and self marketer. It was about infusing our blogs with more life and broadening our reach. It was about progress and propelling ourselves toward a bright future.
One of the talks I was most looking forward to hearing was the one by David Leite, a cookbook author and food writer who is the man behind the highly respected Leite’s Culinaria. He spoke about improving blog posts with stronger writing, more polish and better storytelling. Leafing through my notes now, I can’t believe how many pages I jotted on and how much I want to do because of it. David’s insights struck a chord with me.
We also heard from Dawn Viola, a chef and food writer who blogs at DawnViola.com. She talked about taking your blog to the next level by building your platform and self-marketing, peppering her discussion with her brilliant humor. I literally crafted a to-do list from all her helpful hints and insights. And on a side note, meeting Dawn was kind of exciting for me — I actually interviewed Dawn for a story (see “How Moms are Making Money Blogging“) I wrote years ago for HybridMom, so it was pretty nifty to put a face to the voice on the phone.
I could go on and on — Todd and Diane from the White on Rice Couple renewed my craving to create photos that spark action (as in making a recipe) with their touching talk on food photograph and video. Jaden Hair‘s talk about working with brands, giving value in your work and measuring your success got me thinking about how I measure my success. Her husband, Scott, also resonated when he said that if you have a vision for what you want, you should not only go after it — but talk to others about it. You never know when someone might be able to help you get there. (Do you know about my dream?)
And of course there was food. So much wonderful food. Disney, who was one of the conference sponsors, really pulled out all the stops to show us a good time and make us feel welcomed. Attending this conference was just amazing. No, it was magical.
Note: I’m taking a few more days off to regroup and prepare for great new posts here on Sarah’s Cucina Bella. I’ll be back on Monday. Have a lovely weekend!
Special thanks to conference organizers Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen and Dawn Viola, for pulling together such a rewarding event. Also thanks to the conference sponsors which included Walt Disney World, OXO, KitchenAid, Whole Foods, Land O’Lakes, Bob’s Red Mill, Le Creuset, Spice Islands and many more.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.