Food Blog Forum Orlando 2012

by Kiran on March 24, 2012 · 47 comments

in Events

Wow, where do I start?!?

Firstly, I apologize for the lateness in publishing a post yesterday — a stiff neck and shoulder pain is the culprit. I can’t sit too long in front of the computer to blog. So if you think I am ignoring your emails etc, sorry, and I blame it all on the pain.

So where was I?

We attended Food Blog Forum last weekend, courtesy of lovely sponsors: Walt Disney World, Kitchen Aid, Oxo, Le Creuset, Whole Foods, Land O’Lakes and many more!

When I said “we”, well, the Husband got to explore Disney theme parks while I studied. Win some, lose some :D

with Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen. Squeal!!

Not only did I learnt so much, but I finally met so many wonderful people in real life! That my friend, is worth sacrificing the visit to Animal Kingdom (yeah, the Husband played all day.)

The forum begins with a welcome reception at Grand Floridian Resort. Like many others whom might not be able to willingly admit, I was quite intimidated. Not with the settings, but meeting so many friends that I know would be as wonderful in real life. With constant communication over Blog, Twitter, Facebook etc, you’d think meeting in real life would be easy.

Mmmm.. yeah, it kinda makes sense. We all came together with the same purpose: The love for food and photography. Sharing common interests definitely made it easier to mingle.

Of course, yummy spreads of foods definitely helped ease into conversations ;)

We chatted, hugged it out and laughed all while stuffing ourselves silly with scrumptious foods. Disney definitely has my vote as the best event organizer ever! There were jumbo shrimp cocktails, cake pops, creme brulee, fancy salads and macarons.

Oh macarons. I was so busy sampling and totally forgot to take photos.

with Emily of Sage Recipes

You’d think that with all the appetizers at welcome reception, we’d skip dinner. No way! The Husband, Emily and I hopped on a bus to make our way towards Downtown Disney for dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express.

Again, there’s no photo because we were busy eating. We thought Emily would enjoy getting on a boat ride, and we did that before heading back to the hotel to crash hard for an early morning alarm.

with Angie of Bakerella. OMG!

Day 2 started bright and early at Epcot — which by the way, it’s the best place to host a food forum. Only regret is I didn’t get to stumble into Mickey or Minnie before hand.

But I did get a chance to mingle with Angie from Bakerella, aka Queen of Cake Pops, aka the most down to earth, friendly and kind friend :)

Scott Hair welcomed everyone to the forum with much enthusiasm and sense of humor, it’s kinda infectious. We were told to get on our feet and utilize our speed dating skills to go say “hi” to the next person on the floor. It was hilarity at it’s finest.

I grabbed at the chance to go and say hello and hugged it out with Merry & Lauren. Wish we had more time to play catch up!

Scott and Jaden are truly a match made in social media heaven. Their words of wisdom definitely resonates through the blogging world. The most cherished advice from them:

“be a dreamer and a supporter. Help someone else live their dreams.”

“someone helped me a few years ago, and its my turn now to extend help.”

So inspiring and humbling!

Anyways, the first topic was Food Styling & Photography by Todd & Diane Porter of White & Rice Couple. I love them for they’d taught me:

  • Blog is about story-telling. Capture it with your lens and write your story.
  • Try to find the “light” that works with you. Manage it.
  • Find the perfect time of the day for the light that works for your styling.
  • There’s thousands of recipes on margarita. Don’t ever doubt posting your recipe. The story-telling would always be different and can be distinguished.
  • Don’t compare your photographs with others. Give yourself credit too.
  • Your eyes are your lens, and your heart is the shutter. Embrace your visual voice and photography.

I LOVED this session too much, that I shed a lot of tear. It was emotional and I’m happy the speakers truly connected with the audience.

The following topic was PR perspectives, and the speakers were brand ambassadors from Kitchen Aid, Oxo, Disney and Jaden publisher of Steamy Kitchen. I learnt that:

  • brand tracks engagement within their social media campaigns.
  • they follow “talking about this” stat on Facebook.
  • don’t be  discouraged to work with brands. Numbers are important but it’s necessary to have a quality content.
  • in order to work with a brand, it needs to be a brand you’re passionate about and it needs to be authentic.

There were many breaks in between as well, and whole lotta giveaways graciously sponsored by event organizers.

with Rachel of Kitchen Aid

The next speaker was David Leite on how to write a bigger, better and more badass food posts. I’d learnt that:

  • present who you are in a consistent way possible.
  • don’t overindulge with “I”. Blogging should be a story-telling about something larger than yourself.
  • don’t write just adhering to facts facts facts because it doesn’t allow you to be creative.
  • think about fiction when you are writing blog posts – plot, setting, character, symbol etc.
  • don’t run away from personal conflict – it’s great for story-telling.
  • readers has to know YOU through YOUR stories.
  • take DELICIOUS out and use another verb.
  • the more specific you are about your life, the more universal your blog would be.
  • blog writing should be honest, authentic and as specific as much as possible.
  • create food memories and engage in food experiences with your loved ones.
  • learn to write the English language.
  • get specifics with the goals and the reason you want to achieve it. Take action and “ask” to reach that goal.
  • use powerful language and protect your work.

Phew! That’s a long list and it proves without a doubt, David definitely fits into the “blogging guru” category.

Grishma of ZaikaZabardast

I’ve known Dawn Viola through Facebook and the blogging world for a while now, and had the pleasure of hugging it out and listening to her speaking on how to turn blogging into professional writing. Here’s what I’ve learnt:

  • have a well designed blog or website where people can easily contact you.
  • decide what feels right for you — free or paid writing opportunities.
  • pitch what you love, because you’ll write about it.
  • have a great idea? Bottle it up in a above-the-fold pitch email to whom it may concern.
  • treat your email like a billboard to capture PR/brand’s attention.

Dawn is such a great story-teller & speaker. She is so bubbly in person and I am so glad to have met her. Best thing, we live in Central Florida so this wouldn’t be the last time we mingle, for sure :D

Luncheon reception at Epcot Disney -- appetizers and main course

Before we knew it, lunch time loomed and we were whisked by Disney cast members into a huge lunch reception that was bedazzling. I almost pinched myself, it was that surreal. Everything was super classy and I am sure it was beyond the event organizer’s expectations as well. We were gobsmacked by the arrangements and Disney’s hospitality. From the setting, to array of amazing foods and the opportunity to speak to the foodies from Disney (chef, sous chefs etc), it was definitely a foodie’s dream that came true!

Todd Porter, me & Diane Cu of WhiteOnRiceCouple

The only thing I would mention about desserts? IT WAS PHENOMENAL!

Luncheon reception at Epcot Disney -- array of desserts!

After returning from lunch, we headed into round-table discussions where I watched a food photography demo, learnt all about copyright from talented Elise, discussed PR pitch with Jaden and publication with Angie & Alison.

As soon as the event wrapped up, I headed back to the hotel for some relaxation before heading back out to watch Illuminations at Epcot. We had a front row reserved with desserts in tow.

Disney did it once again, with so much style!

Whole Foods were gracious to host our farewell brunch the next morning. With great foods, natural lighting (for photos, of course) and heavy hearts, I bid goodbye to many friends sharing the same passion: my love for food + photography.

with Jenny of Picky Palate

I’m sure I didn’t get a chance to speak or take a photo with each and every one at the forum. But the ones that I met, touched me beyond words of encouragement and I cannot be more grateful to the event organizers and sponsors for realizing this event.

Whole Foods brunch!

Thank you so much to Jaden & Scott, Julie, Dawn, Walt Disney World and all event sponsors for making this a truly foodie extravaganza event!

The best part about the whole experience was absolutely learning. There’s no age to keep learning from each other. I’ve soaked it all and now its time to reboot, recharge and take this blog of mine to another level.

Hope you are having a great weekend — what is your words of encouragement or wisdom? Have you attended a food blogging conference or event that had a positive impact on you?

 

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} March 24, 2012 at 5:37 PM

What fun Kiran!!! I do wanted to go! I just found out that the lovey Emily of sagerecipes.com lives in SB with me! How fun! Looks like you had a blast ! I’m going to the blogher conf in Seattle, although it looks like everyone went to this conf ;-)
Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} recently posted..Lemon Trifle

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2 Amanda March 24, 2012 at 6:03 PM

yay great post! I haven’t posted mine yet, but hope to have it up Tuesday. I have a post scheduled for Monday that I have to run and had to write an article for another blog today. I’m pooped and still need to format loads of pics! I have a great picture of me and you too!
Amanda recently posted..Slow Cooker Java Brisket

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3 Jennifer (Savor) March 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

So happy you had such an amazing time!!

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4 Glamorous Glutton March 24, 2012 at 6:34 PM

What a great sounding event, there was some fabulous advice. It must have been a fun few days. GG
Glamorous Glutton recently posted..Peach Leaf Petal China and Creme Fraiche Berry Tart

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5 merry jennifer March 24, 2012 at 6:35 PM

I am SO glad you came up to me and said hello! It was wonderful to finally meet you in person. Great post, Kiran!
merry jennifer recently posted..the food blog forum orlando, disney edition

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6 Kim Bee March 24, 2012 at 7:50 PM

Kiran this is such a wonderful recap of the event. I am considering another trip to Florida sans family this time. There are some amazing conferences out that way. I sure hope we get to meet up and hang out at the next one. You look so calm in your photos. I look like an absolute lunatic in mine, every one I look like a deer in the headlights. Too much excitement made me loopy. Honestly I am surprised Jaden did not run in the other direction.
Kim Bee recently posted..Cravings of a Lunatic Unplugged

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7 Rosa March 24, 2012 at 7:57 PM

A great event! It looks like you had a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers,

Rosa

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8 Emily March 24, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Reading your posts reminded me of what an amazing weekend it was! I’m so glad we got to meet and get to know each other! That picture of us is too cute!
Emily recently posted..Sweet and Sour Chicken and Vegetables

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9 Jeanette March 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM

What a fantastic recap of last weekend’s events – it was so nice meeting you in person! Love all the photos you took.
Jeanette recently posted..Food Blog Forum Orlando 2012 Wrap-Up

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10 Monica March 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM

What a great recap.. it was such a great way to go “back” to it… it was way too short.. While we meet briefly, I’m looking forward to meeting again soon!
Monica recently posted..Poached Kingklip with Spicy Ginger Butter Sauce

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11 Alyssa @ Everyday Maven March 25, 2012 at 1:38 AM

Wow Kiran – that sounds like such an amazing experience!! Thanks for sharing :)
Alyssa @ Everyday Maven recently posted..Spiced Coconut Rice

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12 Khushboo March 25, 2012 at 3:22 AM

Kiran, thanks so much for your thorough recap and for sharing tips you picked up! It sounded like an insightful (and scrumptious- notice my avoidance of the use of ‘delicious) experience! Personally I know when it comes to reading blogs, I love the more personal ones…even if they don’t share every nitty gritty part of their life, a little story/relevance to a recipe/workout/etc always makes it that much for pleasurable to read!
Khushboo recently posted..“Sugar-coated” marketing

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13 Margarita March 25, 2012 at 5:34 AM

Kiran, thank you for sharing what you learned at the forum… these are definitely good things to know about when blogging. Even when you were out having a good time, learning, meeting great people, and enjoying all those goodies, you thought about us the whole time and shared the lessons and techniques you learned. Ok, I’m not jealous anymore. ;)
Margarita recently posted..Some Men Can Cook

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14 Sophie March 25, 2012 at 7:14 AM

What a fun food blog event! The venue looked amazing & the food looked so fabulous & wonderful! thanks for posting & writing thistasty post! :) I also love the whiteonrice couple a lot! Their garden blog amazes me too! :)
You look great too! ;)
Sophie recently posted..Grilled green asparagus with oven baked potatoes & oven baked salmon

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15 the wicked noodle March 25, 2012 at 8:01 AM

What a lovely post! It sounds like you had a wonderful time, learned a lot, made new friends and came back inspired. Those are my favorite kinds of conferences! So glad you were able to go and that you had such a wonderful time!

ps. I hope your pain gets better soon…

xoxoxoxo
the wicked noodle recently posted..homemade lemon curd

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16 Aggie March 25, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Great recap and photos! I’m so happy we finally got to meet in person, you are a sweetheart! Hope our paths cross again soon!

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17 Ina gawne March 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Kiran – what a wonderful time you have had! The photos are great, and the food, looks to die for! Such a lovely post!
Ina gawne recently posted..APPLESAUCE RAISIN SPICE COOKIES – GLUTEN FREE AND SUGAR FREE

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18 Magic of Spice March 25, 2012 at 3:05 PM

What an amazing event, and such fun! Wonderful read my dear, almost like I was there :)
Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s for breakfast? California Scramble with Toast

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19 Andi at The Particular Traveler March 25, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Kiran–Thanks for sharing so many great tips. The conference looks like it was really spectacular.

Here’s hoping you feel better soon!
Andi at The Particular Traveler recently posted..A View From My Tent in Moab, Utah

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20 Cass @foodmyfriend March 25, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Hope you feel better soon :( I am going to Orlando at the end of the year and I cannot wait!!!

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21 Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef March 25, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I am so envious of your blog forum in Orlando! Nothing like that happens in Australia that I’m aware of. There are get-togethers but nothing on that scale. One day! So glad you learned a lot. I’ll be watching your blog to see what I can learn. :)
Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef recently posted..Bulgarian Pitka Bread

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22 Julie M. March 25, 2012 at 9:31 PM

It sounds like it was an amazing weekend! So glad you were able to enjoy it!
Julie M. recently posted..Lemon Cardamom Crepes with Strawberry Rhubarb Custard

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23 Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious March 25, 2012 at 9:50 PM

HOW FUN!!! I have been wanting to go to one of those — but never got around to it! Thanks for sharing your notes with us. And gorgeous photos as always! I’d have to keep an eye on the next forum.
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious recently posted..What’s Baking March Round-up!

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24 honeywhatscooking March 25, 2012 at 11:16 PM

what a fun packed weekend you had. you take gorgeous pics btw.. i loved the illuminations show at Epcot. omg, you got to meet Bakerella? OMG is right! :-)
honeywhatscooking recently posted..BAKED Jalapeno Poppers stuffed with Cream Cheese

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25 lisaiscooking March 25, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Sounds like a fantastic event–and so much great food! Those desserts do look amazing.
lisaiscooking recently posted..Fig Bread

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26 chinmayie @ love food eat March 26, 2012 at 2:41 AM

WOW! looks like you had a fab time! So lucky to have met all those amazing bloggers personally :) Food looks mouthwatering too… Love all photos!
chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Vegan Chocolate Coffee Cake

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27 nuha March 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM

these pictures look amazing! looks like you had a great time :-)

http://nuhasofiyan.blogspot.com
nuha recently posted..Girl Crush: Bernadette Pascua

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28 Sammie March 26, 2012 at 2:38 PM

OMG This is such an awesome event!! I have never been to one like this and can imagine how fun it would be! It might be a little crazy seeing and talking to people real-life when you’ve only been talking to them through the blogging world! haha.. Looks like you had a great time and a lot of great food!! :)
Sammie recently posted..Les Croissants

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29 Denise March 26, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Now this seems like a great event and a gorgeous time you’ve had! Great to see the faces with the blogs and the food looks very delicious too;)
Denise recently posted..Caramelized Onion Tart with Goat Cheese (or Feta)

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30 Juliana March 26, 2012 at 5:14 PM

What a awesome event, the pictures are awesome and I can tell that you had a great time.
Thanks for sharing such a nice event…hope you have a great week ahead Kiran :)

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31 Simply Life March 26, 2012 at 7:57 PM

wow! looks like such a great time! thanks for sharing what you learned!
Simply Life recently posted..Tofu and Wheat Berry Salad

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32 Jill | Dulce Dough March 26, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Great post! Looks like you had a wonderful time!
Jill | Dulce Dough recently posted..Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Rum Glaze

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33 Nami | Just One Cookbook March 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM

Kiran, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experience with us! Wahhhh you met so many famous bloggers too – must be so exciting! Well you are one of famous people there and I’m sure a lot of people were really happy to see you in person! I wish I could have been there to meet you. One day! ;-)
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Mom’s Korokke (Croquette)

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34 Baker Street March 27, 2012 at 7:25 AM

Wow! Looks like you had a fabulous time Kiran!
Baker Street recently posted..Muffin Monday: Coffee Break Muffins

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35 Shannon | Just As Delish March 27, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Your storytelling is so real, I almost feel like I’m there with you. The tips you shared are so valueable, especially on how to write more badass post! love it! I can’t wait for you to get to KL!
Shannon | Just As Delish recently posted..Mango Lassi

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36 JOJO March 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Wow, sounds like you had a wonderful time!
All the notes you took are very helpful and encouraging to keep blogging YOUR way/My way! :D Thank you for sharing! I copy&pasted some of the notes you wrote down so I can read it as a motivator when I feel stuck! :D
JOJO recently posted..Guilty Pleasure

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37 Asmita March 27, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Hi Kiran,
You really seem to have had a fantastic time. Loved all the pictures and enjoyed reading about it too. Have a great week ahead.
Asmita recently posted..Red Berry Trifle

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38 Katherine Martinelli March 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and amazing take-aways from this event! It sounds like it was a great experience.

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39 A Brown Table March 27, 2012 at 3:28 PM

This sounds like a lot of fun, hope we have one here in DC soon!
A Brown Table recently posted..rose and almond pot de creme

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40 Biana | Meal Planning Tips March 27, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Feel better soon!

Thank you for sharing these pictures – looks like a great event. Love those food pictures.
Biana | Meal Planning Tips recently posted..Avocado And Radish Salad Recipe With Dill

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41 Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb March 28, 2012 at 8:19 AM

wow… that was lots of information. So cool, I have never seen a blogging convention or anything the such, so its nice to see the whole tour from your point of view. I d surely love to go to a meet up one day, would be fun to know who the people are behind some of my favourite blogs, the people I chat with everyday.
I bookmarked your post since I ll like to come back when I have to be reminded of my blogging path. Thanks Kiran for this post, I enjoyed it!

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42 Jenny @ BAKE March 29, 2012 at 5:57 AM

Wow! this must have been incredible! I am so jealous! Though this is an amazingly indepth post so it’s almost as good as being there!
Jenny @ BAKE recently posted..Marmalade

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43 Bloggy April 2, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Thank you for sharing this with all the food bloggers of the world, that includes me too. Kudos to you for sharing more than your experience, so other bloggers who could not attend the forum due to geographical boundaries enjoy the fun and the benefits of the forum.
Bloggy recently posted..I Am Honored

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