The International Food Blogger Conference

For me, there is no greater joy than watching an idea flourish to inception. Next week, the inaugural launch of the International Food Blogger Conference is sure to be a significant milestone. Held here in Seattle May 15-17, the conference will bring together the best and the brightest in the food blog arena. Two full days of panel discussions will cover everything from: Finding Your Voice, How to go from Blog to Book, Food Porn, and Search Engine Optimization.

Behind the scenes, I’ve been grappling with many of these topics for months. With an average of 10 hours invested in every post—whether it’s editing photos, attending events, typing up interviews, or “birthing” an essay…all along I wonder, does anyone read this? Am I making a difference? Questions continued to gnaw at me.

Friends of mine had clearly “made it” in the blogger world. And when we gathered together, I sought guidance. Inevitably, I’d steer the conversation to probing questions: Why do you write a blog? What do you hope to achieve? What hurdles do you face? The answers were surprising. Some blogs began as a partnership between husband & wife….a hobby they could share together, others launched their blog with a future book deal in mind, and yet, many were equally surprised by their fame.

The hurdles bloggers face ran the gamut: Should I monetize my blog? What’s the best way to deal with PR companies and swag gifts? How do I live in the public eye and still protect my privacy? What are the ramifications for cyber stalking? My blog is copywritten…and yet people steal my content. How do I deal with that?

I was still grappling with these questions when, on an early spring morning, I happened to meet Sheri Wetherell. She and her partners recently launched a website called Foodista, and plans were in the works for a food blogger conference. (Here [!] In Seattle [!] In May [!]) A tentative agenda had been drawn up….and evolved with a few tweaks here and there. I opened my list of contacts and what followed was a flurry of “virtual introductions.” “What if…we had a topic on taking your blog to book?” “Awesome! Then you need to meet my friend Molly…she just released a book, based on her blog. And what if we brought publishing companies into the mix? They can share what their objectives are…and what type of content they’re looking for.” On and on it went….

After weeks of brainstorming and connections, I’m so proud to see the event come together. Sheri and the Foodista crew have worked nonstop….moving the conference from idea to inception in just a few short months. It takes a village to pulls something like this off…and I was delighted to discover an outpouring of support at every turn. In the end, the conference turned out to be far bigger than we ever imagined--from panelists and attendees, to caterers and sponsors, it’s a dreamy mix of who’s who....(View the detailed agenda here.)

Highlights of the International Food Blogger Conference include:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cocktail Party

• Renee Behnke: Owner of Sur La Table and author of “Memorable Recipes: To Share With Friends and Family

• Michael Hebb of, Mason Sager of Caffé Vita, and Joe Whinney of Theo Chocolates will discuss the “Tale of Two Roasters” and provide samples of their fine coffee and chocolates

Saturday, May 16, 2009

“Blog to Book – Getting Your Writing On Paper”

Moderated by Amy Sherman, Cooking With Amy and author of “Williams-Sonoma New Flavors For Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined


• Molly Wizenberg:, Bon Appétit, author of “A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table

• Jaden Hair:, Tampa Tribune Food writer, TV cooking show host

• Kirsty Melville: Cookbook publisher at Andrews McMeel Publishing


• Published food writers speak on their experience• What publishers are looking for, how to write a book proposal

“Finding Your Voice”

Moderated by Warren Etheredge of Words & Wine and The Warren Report


• Rebekah Denn, Seattle PI food journalist, blogger, James Beard Journalism Award Winner

• Julie Brosterman, CEO/Founder of Women & Wine

• Kathleen Flinn, IACP chair and author of “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry


• Finding your voice/niche• How to stay relevant and unique• Journalist vs. Blogger• Crafting your message• Finding and building a rapport with your audience

“Building A Better Blog Part 1: “Food Porn - Food Photography & Styling”


• Kathy Casey, owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios and author of Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table and Sips & Apps

• Patty Wittmann, Food Stylist


• Digital camera selection and use• Food staging and lighting• Image hosting• Photo editing tools• Free image sources

“Building A Better Blog Part 2: SEO/Traffic/Monetization”


• Barnaby Dorfman, CEO, Foodista

• Ryan Stern, Director & Managing Editor, Foodbuzz

• Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes


• Blog platforms and hosting services• Building traffic/SEO• Making money

Words and Wine with Ruth Reichl, Editor & Chief of Gourmet Magazine, Autographed Copy of “Not Becoming My Mother

Sunday, May 17, 2009

“Blogging As A Career”


• Jaden Hair, Steamy Kitchen

• Amy Sherman, Cooking With Amy

• Elise Bauer, Simply Recipes


• Turning your blog or food writing into a career• New media vs. old media• Digital photography/video, food styling

“The Law and Ethics in Blogging”

Moderated by Tracy Sarich


Kraig Baker, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine

• Barnaby Dorfman, CEO, Foodista

• Kim O’Donnel, A Mighty Appetite/The Washington Post


• Copyrights and intellectual property• “Copy Left”• Best practices in reviewing products and restaurants• How to handle freebies• Being transparent• Blog etiquette: linking, commenting, and spam

“Passionate Purveyors & Producers”

Moderated by Barnaby Dorfman, CEO, Foodista


• Lauren Adler, Chocolopolis

• Carrie Oliver, Oliver Ranch, The Provenance of Beef

• Luke Dirks, Stumptown Coffee Roasters

• Karl Kupers, co-founder of Shepherd’s Grain


• People who will change the way you feel about a commodity food

Wine & Cheese Party