There has been a short stall in the posting of recipes on this site as of late. Don’t worry though! They will be back this week. It has just been a very busy and eventful season so far. In addition to whipping up food in the kitchen, we are both running around LA and beyond as the summer’s fun gets under way. Amir has been jet setting across the Midwest and East coast, while I’ve been car hopping around our home city. Last weekend’s affairs included the Blogging While Brown conference that brought a couple hundred bloggers from across the country together for informative, educational and business-oriented panels and workshops for members of the minority blogging community. It would be the first time the fairly new conference would feature a niche or lifestyle, and it just so happened to be a food blogging session led by myself and my friend and colleague, Bren Herrera of Flanboyant Eats. Here’s a quick rundown of the weekend!
For several weeks prior to the conference, Bren and I were planning our panel in addition to a big social media happy hour that would be held at The Capital Grille in Beverly Hills. We both posted announcements on our blog before the event with a line up of the goodies. hit the max on our RSVP limit and just knew that we’d have a blast. Well, the party was a wicker basket full of fun! Many LA bloggers came, as well as new friends and visitors from out of town who would be attending the conference. We nibbled on Lobster Salad Sandwiches, Mozzarella, Proscuitto and Basil Sandwiches, Mini Tenderloin Burgers and Parmesan Truffle Fries. We sipped on POM Wonderful Havanas sponsored by our friends POM Wonderful, as well as The Capital Grille’s signature cocktails, including my favorite–the Stoli Doli. In between eats and drinks, we handed out giveaway items from California Olive Ranch, Tropical Traditions, Bertolli, Starbucks Natural Fusions and Alexia Foods, plus more cookbooks than you can even imagine. It was really exciting to hand out books from Foodista and Smiley Booksas Amir and I have recipes in both.
The weather was perfect, the music was right, the crowd was chatty, and we of course met some great people who would also be at the conference. It was a win. We’ve thanked our friends at The Capital Grille many times, but it’s worth another mention. They were so flexible with our requests and truly made the party the success that it was! If you haven’t been to the LA location, go check out their newly installed happy hour. It is the first and only TCG property to feature a happy hour menu, so you’re in store for something special. All signature cocktails, wine and beer are only $6. The appetizers are the same price as well. You can’t beat that! If that wasn’t good enough for you, they’ve also just launched The Generous Pour Wine Event through September. Nine wines are chosen by their Master Sommelier George Miliotes, and you can have unlimited samples of each one for just $25. Grab dinner as well, and you’ve set yourself up for a fun evening! We will be back for more fun at The Capital Grille.
Following our happy hour, Bren and I left the restaurant feeling excited for the upcoming panel. On Friday, July 8th, we rode to the LAX Marriott to join the first evening’s panel and welcome event. I’m happy we sat in on the “Strategic Partnerships” discussion led by Akilah Richards and Takeyah Young as it was a very pointed and detailed breakdown of the best ways to determine partnerships that work for your brand, company or even your life direction. We then mingled and mixed with a number of new faces over appetizers and drinks before heading back to Bren’s hotel to finalize our presentation. Yes, we were up until 2:30 am completing the slides, but once it was done, we were so very happy with the layout and information.
The next morning, I attended the “Efficiency vs. Effectiveness” panel led by Adria Richards and Scott Hanselman. If you’re like me, then you know we’re all constantly bombarded by internal and external distractions, including everything that sucks up your time in the social media world. I walked out of the door with tips and tricks to manage my time better. (Actually, I still need to get my Pomodoro timer!) Next up was the “Vlogging” discussion led by Roshini Cope. Amir and I want to do more videos, so I jotted down a few helpful pointers and advice from a woman who has successfully reached 10,000 subscribers after a couple of years. Finally, it was time for Bren and I to get ready for our own panel. After lunch, we met up and reviewed our notes, made sure the boxes of POM Lite were delivered to our room, set up the computer and laid out all of our giveaway goodies.
The panel itself went by in a flash! After all of the weeks of preparation and work, plus a night of basically no sleep, we spent nearly 90 minutes (yes, we went over our time a bit!) chatting about food blogging, the community, challenges and the opportunities available within that sector of the social media world. We had great questions, comments and input from attendees, which was great. Interestingly enough, out of a conference of about 200 people, only three people–including ourselves–were based in food. The third was Melissa Lanz, another Angeleno, of The Fresh 20 who actually spoke on her own panel. Inherent in our small numbers was the challenge of gaining interest and respect from attendees who most likely were unfamiliar with how food blogging works and how big and influential it truly is as an online arena. A big thank you to all who attended and tweeted during our Tweetchat with the hash tag #bwbfoodblogging. We were able to share information with those who could not be there, which was helpful for all. Both Bren and I left the panel feeling happy with the engaged nature of our panel!
The rest of the evening’s activities included a panel from keynote speaker and author, Angel Laws, and an awards dinner and program for blogs that had been top nominees in 40 different categories. Two friends, Sanura of My Life Runs on Food and Kari and Lij of Chef and Steward, were nominated for Best Food Blog. Although they didn’t win, they definitely deserve the nomination! Sunday morning concluded with a farewell brunch. I may have missed the brunch, but of course I checked all the tweets to see what people were eating! All in all, it was an interesting weekend that highlighted different aspects of the minority social media sector that I had not fully considered until then. It also introduced me to a few new bloggers and social media representatives for other companies who I look forward to keeping in touch with in the future. The best part about social networking is the real connections that are made at conferences and events. We all know that what we do on and share through our computers is important, but it’s not the final step. Thanks to the Blogging While Brown team for allowing Bren and I to share our passion for food and the culinary world with new friends.