If someone asks me for a one-word synopsis of the BlogHer Food ’09 conference, I say FANTASTIC! And, then I go on to offer a number of other adjectives in praise and appreciation of this event. Then I talk about all the people. No, I’m not channeling Suze Orman with her “people first” mantra (although I’m something of a fan of Suze’s). Seriously, it may sound schmaltzy, but it’s really always the people and connections you make that mean the most and stay with you the longest. Meeting bloggers—most of them gluten-free bloggers/resource folks—who I’ve been following for months in person was such an energizing and validating experience. I know it sounds silly to say, but these folks are for real. You’ll actually see this sentiment echoed in write-ups about BlogHer Food elsewhere, so I’m not alone in my thinking. It’s always truly surprising how you can meet someone in person who you’ve been following online and feel like you’ve known them forever (or at least a very long time). Or, you can meet someone you’ve never met before and feel an instant connection because of a shared appreciation—in this case, a shared love of food (really good food!) and blogging.
So, I’d like to take the time to note the folks I did get to meet along the way. As is done in many movie and theatre productions, I’m listing the BlogHer Food “cast members” I met in order of appearance (as best I can recall anyway).
Diane Eblin and Ali Segersten in Muir Woods
Diane Eblin of The W.H.O.L.E. Gang— The energy and vitality that Diane demonstrates on her blog, The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, and her other review blog, Gluten Free Food Critic, actually carries through in everything she does! She’s like the Energizer bunny … until it’s her bedtime and then she winds down. But, the next morning she’s off again! We started our trip together on Wednesday evening and didn’t completely head our separate ways until Monday night. And, this was our first actual meeting! Once we checked into the hotel on Thursday morning, we were off on all the adventures we could squeeze in! From discovering culinary delights to touring Muir Woods to cheering from the 50-yard line at an Oakland Raiders game … we did it all. I can’t wait until our next outing! Be sure to check out Diane’s sites where she always employs her personal motto: Food Should Taste Good. Diane deals with more than one food intolerance and does so with aplomb. Of special interest on her main site are the Friday Foodie Fix (which features a different ingredient each week; you can add a recipe to this weekly roundup at any time, not just on Fridays) and the Weekend Cooking Tip. She’s just started featuring videos of many of the folks she met at BlogHer Food, each sharing a special cooking tip. My video is the first one up (please ignore the eyes, searching for what I was going to say next). Be sure to check those videos out over the next several weeks to see your favorite bloggers and get to know some new ones as well.
Ali Segersten of The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen—Ali hopped off the plane, jumped in a shuttle, checked into the hotel, and then immediately headed to Muir Woods with us. Getting acquainted face to face as we walked among the magnificent redwoods was a very special experience. Ali is warm and genuine, especially in her mission to teach others to eat healthy, nutritious, and healing foods. She is half of the dynamo nutritional team that makes up Whole Life Nutrition. The other half of the team is Ali’s husband, Tom Malterre (whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting). Ali’s the one most often in The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, but Tom is often “right there with her” providing nutritional data. (Check out his latest article on digestive and nutritional considerations in celiac disease.) Ali’s recipes are all gluten free, and usually free of other allergens as well; e.g., dairy, eggs. She shares amazing recipes (including breads her fans rave over) that she feeds her family of four little ones, which includes twin toddlers—all are under the age of 7! Ali also shares her family’s wonderful adventures hiking, picking pounds and pounds of fruit, exploring the beach, or sledding in the mountains. If you have youngster who needs to learn how to pack a healthy lunch, be sure to check out Ali’s post on packing a healthy school lunch. It”s all about getting your child to pack a healthy lunch on their own and even has a printable chart (with images) for you to download.
Shauna Ahern and Danny Ahern, aka The Chef, of Gluten-Free Girl, Gluten-Free Girl Recommends, and pork, knife, and spoon—I had previously met Shauna at a gluten intolerance conference a few years back, but had not met The Chef, or their lovely daughter (whom they affectionately refer to as Little Bean). Diane spotted them while we were roaming the streets of San Francisco. It was like spotting a celebrity and stopping to chat! Check out their blogs, and her book, Gluten-Free Girl. A friend loaned me her copy while I was waiting for mine to arrive and asked me to annotate the book with my thoughts—that was fun! I’m sure Shauna would be happy to know how many times I wrote “Yes!” (her personal motto) in the margin. I think you’ll agree that we are all better for Shauna and The Chef finding each other when we see their collaborations in the kitchen. They cook with real food—all gluten free—and they do it so incredibly well. Add Shauna’s beautiful writing to tell us all about it and The Chef’s how-to videos to show us how to do things like make gluten-free gravy and we’re all over the moon with the sheer joy of it all.
Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry—I’ve written quite a bit about Elana in previous posts, first, when I adapted her chipotle salmon and just recently when I adapted her flourless chocolate banana cake and gave away two copies of her new cookbook, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. She’s just lovely—so friendly and full of life. She creates recipe after recipe that allow people to eat deliciously even though they might be gluten free, grain free, dairy free, sugar free, etc. You may have read elsewhere that she saved all the gluten-free bloggers with her chocolate chip cookies at the terrace cocktail party—it’s true! The first one was sublime, but all of us were so very grateful when she asked, “Would you like another cookie?” We thought she was terrific even before she brought out that box of cookies, but the cookies definitely cinched the deal. By the way, Elana did two posts on BlogHer Food that you should check out. The first is advice for bloggers, a recap of what she shared in her presentation at the event. The second is a fun post on the gluten-free bloggers she met there.
About the 10th photo taken, so not the best of everyone, but here’s: first row, Stephanie, Seamaiden, Ali, me, Diane; second row, Elana, Alison, Karen, Jean
Lisa Johnson, aka Anali, of Anali’s First Amendment—Lisa was also a presenter at the conference. Lisa and I met through a mutual friend’s blog and have been getting to know each other ever since. I love her sunny spirit, her varied writing pieces (including some killer recipes—a few of which I have adapted here at gfe), and her many excellent photos. She’s also a lawyer and spoke on trademarks and copyrights at the conference. That’s a tough subject for sure, as it turns out the latter is not as cut and dried as one might think when it comes to recipes. In a post written by David Lebovitz on the subject of recipe attribution at the Food Blog Alliance a while back, she referenced this post from Tart Reform as a very good discussion on the subject. Lisa is a dear. Check out her site, Anali’s First Amendment.
Elisa Camahort Page—One of the co-founders of BlogHer, Elisa spoke with me for several minutes at the Friday night cocktail party hosted by The Mushroom Channel folks. She shared how BlogHer had originally gotten started and how BlogHer Food was a natural progression given all the food bloggers today. When I expressed that I thought BlogHer Food was a phenomenal value at $99, she replied that could not have been possible without the corporate sponsorhips. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Elisa who—along with her co-founders, Jory des Jardins and Lisa Stone—had a vision and acted on it—in a huge and positive way.
Heather at Heather in SF—Heather is an ebullient girl. Always ready with a smile, a sparkle in her eye, and something interesting to share, she’s the one you’d like to have along for a night out with the girls. She was in home territory, too, but we unfortunately we did not get together outside the conference. Next time, Heather … what do you say?
Andrea Meyers of Andrea Meyers, subtitled, “cooking, gardening and four hungry guys“—It turns out that Andrea is a fellow Virginian with a love of all the things in her subtitle. That makes for a great blog. Her site also features a carnival called during the growing season called Grow Your Own—“a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products.” I’ll definitely be checking that roundup out in 2010, as well as Andrea’s blog.
Jessi from The Mushroom Channel—What a personable girl and what a neat job she has promoting mushrooms … real food–love that! The soup that Jessi and The Mushroom Channel folks served on Saturday during our afternoon break was over-the-top fantastic. Mushroom “cappuccino” with savory bacon cream. Think bacon-infused cream topping … optional, and just a dab, mind you if you decided to partake. Making this soup is on my “to do” list for sure. It’s naturally gluten free, which meant it was another lifesaving offering for those of us who were eating gluten free at the conference. Because mushrooms are a real food, they completely fit into the gluten free easily (gfe) approach.
Anne-Marie Nichols of This Mama Cooks! On a Diet and This Mama Cooks! Reviews—Anne-Marie warmly greeted me each time I ran into her. She represented Nasoya products. (Note: Despite soy being the main ingredient in their products, most contain gluten.)
Mary Kate Paris of Kitchenbelle—Lovely Mary Kate was still riding high at breakfast from a chance meeting with Tim Gunn in The Westin bar the night before. Genuine friendliness from Tim and a very nice photo of the two of them together to prove it! She was also pretty happy about a recent collaboration/sponsorship by Eggland’s Best eggs. At first I thought she was a Southern belle as well, but it turns out she hails from Boston. I wish we could have gotten to spend more time together; I really enjoyed talking with her.
Stephanie O’Dea of A Year of Slow Cooking and Totally Together Journal—Stephanie is such a sweetheart. I was so happy to meet her in person after following her blog and corresponding with her for a good while now. News alert: Stephanie has a brand spanking new blog, Totally Together Reviews, where she, of course, does reviews, and sometimes giveaways. Speaking of brand spanking new and giveaways, she also has a brand spanking new (and very shiny) refrigerator that was given to her! Head over to her site to enter the giveaway for $200 in Best Buy gift cards, which you can use to buy a new appliance (or anything else you like)! Last, but not least, Stephanie’s new cookbook came out on Tuesday. Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is subtitled The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking. There are so many reasons to get this book. If you caught Stephanie’s appearance on Good Morning America, you saw a few of them: Maple Dijon Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Honey and Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots, Apple Crisp, and Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’ve made and highly recommend her 20- to 40- Clove Garlic Chicken, Thai Coconut Soup, and Pumpkin Pie Dip. I can’t wait to try her Crème Brulee and Chocolate Mousse. Yes, you can make those in the crockpot!
Stephanie, Mary Kate, and Anne-Marie at breakfast
Alison St. Sure of Sure Foods Living—Alison’s site houses a wealth of information. You’ll want to check out her site for her gluten-free and allergen-free Halloween candy “quick lists” to make sure your Halloween treats are safe. Alison is known in the gluten-free community for reaching out to others, particularly newbies, and reassuring them that yes, they can do this gluten-free thing. I just love it when people are willing to put themselves out there and help folks in this manner! And, besides all that, the girl is downright photogenic. It is not possible to take a bad photo of her. Even in one where she had Elana’s cookie to her mouth and the wind tousling her hair, she still looked great!
Okay, I’m only up to the folks I met halfway through breakfast the day of the conference … they all deserve recognition. So, To Be Continued …
Not just gf, but gfe!
Oh, Shirley. What a treat. Thanks for sharing. I was soo jealous when I read your tweets about dinner with Diane. Reading your post was almost like being there.
Hey, Wendy–Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’ll be sharing more. 🙂 Maybe we can ALL go next year and we’ll all be tweeting about our fab dinners and times together. 😉
Stephanie O'Dea says
Shirley, I’m so happy to have met you in person, after sharing such a phenomenal online relationship—the internet is grand, but face-to-face is just so much better!
Hi, Steph–Thank you so much, dear. You know I feel the same way! Now when we communicate online, it will be even better because we’ve had the face to face. 🙂
I’m seeing lots of activity regarding your book. I’m so very happy for you!
Alisa - Frugal Foodie says
Wow, such an amazing event. I really want to go next year! I hope they do blogher food again 🙂
Hi Alisa–I’ll be sharing more on BlogHer Food. It really was phenomenal. They are planning on having BlogHer Food next year. Just no location yet and no date (to my knowledge), but we all want to be there for sure. So hope you and others who didn’t make it this time will get to go. Maybe we can have an even bigger group of folks—sort of like a family reunion of family you haven’t met yet. 😉
Wow! It looks like so much fun =D. I’d love to be able to go one year (but with school, my age, etc, I don’t know if I’ll be able to)!
Hi, Lauren– 🙂 It was a ton of fun and I’ll be sharing more. We’ll keep this event going until you can join us one year. Maybe you could talk an older family member into going with you. You wouldn’t have to miss much school as it’s held on a Saturday. Just getting there and getting back … maybe a mini-family vacation could be planned around it? We’d all so love to meet you in person!!
Sounds like a plan =D.
🙂 Now that I found out you’ve been hobknobbing with the terrific Jaden Hair, you’ll have to go in 2010!
Shirley, I have to say YOU are just as sweet in person as you are online. I love all of the pictures you have shared here. So glad I got the opportunity to get to know you a little better! Until next year….
Ali–That is so very sweet of you to say! I really appreciate it. 🙂 You were just like I expected … down to earth, no pretense, and warm and genuine as I said. I’m so glad we had some unscheduled time to play and talk non-stop. Like you said earlier, it’s a good thing we didn’t share a room … we wouldn’t have gotten any sleep! LOL, but true.
The Celiac Husband says
Why do I feel left out???? Why? can’t put my finger on it.
Where are the dudes? Ah. maybe that’s it.
H.Peter–Oh, you always make me chuckle at a minimum! There were actually some guys there (and I’ll have some pics of them), but most were presenters. Come up with a presentation and you might be in. How about starting a blog in coordination with a business? You have excellent experience with that. 🙂
The Celiac Husband says
My hands are full.
No more Blogs.
Maybe one more FB page for an auction house, but that’s all I can take.
I have read some other BLOGS about that conference and sure seemed that it was fantastic.
A brilliant idea really.
H.Peter–I understand! I’m amazed at all you do now. 🙂 The Facebook page sounds like a great idea. Will look forward to seeing it!
It’s great to hear that so many others felt the same way about BlogHer Food. I’m not surprised though; everyone seemed to be loving it.
Shirley, it was so nice to finally meet you in person! I love the way that you put together this post, by person. Because like what you said, the conference really was about the people. ; )
Thanks, Anali! It’s always about the people, isn’t it? Making connections and sharing with others is why we blog, too. 🙂 I was so sorry I didn’t get a photo of you or one of us together. I guess we were enjoying the whole experience too much, right? I did see a photo of you at the Tropisueno party at Pioneer Woman’s site … did you see it?
Sounds like fun times! How cool to meet everyone from the “blog world” 🙂
P.S. I love your wine glass photo!
Hi there, Betsy–Great to see you here at gfe! 🙂 Yes, meeting so many from the blog world was more fun than any of us could have imagined. The wine glass photo was a natural choice, although I did get fussed at by the wait staff. Apparently, sometimes a breeze can tumble them over the side, which, of course, is not good for those on the street below. So I did understand, but I was glad that I was able to get the shot. Anyway, thanks so much!
Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free says
Shirley – I was at Muir Woods that same weekend! Oh, how wonderful it would have been to run into you there. It was a little creepy driving down because of all the fog but it was totally peaceful once we got to the bottom.
I love seeing all you did at BlogHer!
Amy–Oh my goodness, wouldn’t that have been something? I’m so sorry it didn’t happen. We would have spotted you from your blog photo for sure. 🙂 We were on a small tour bus. I was glad that someone experienced was driving. Peaceful is a very good description. If I lived nearby, I’d visit Muir Woods as often as possible. It’s truly a magical place.
This post is only part I … I’ll be sharing more. 🙂
Heather in SF says
it was so much fun to hang out with you at the Mushroom Channel event and more at the conference. If all we had time for was chatting at the conference it would have been totally worth it to me, and that conviction is entirely due to lovely people like you. Never before have I met so many people for the first time and felt like we have been friends for years. Absolutely anytime you are here or nearby we should go out and play! Meantime, I look forward to continuing our new friendship here in the ether.
Hey Heather–Such a sweet response—thank you! Yes, there just wasn’t enough time to talk to all the great folks we met and felt such an instant kinship with. 🙂 I’m so glad I got to partake in both of the “extra” parties. Finally, oh, what fun that would be to actually get together again. Until then, like you said, the interwebs … 😉
It looks like you all had such a great time. I wish I could have gone as well!
Hi, Heather!–Yes, it was a phenomenal event. Maybe there’ll be an event near you one day and you can attend. It sure would be great to meet you in person! 🙂
Thank you for the kind words! It was such a fun day and so great to meet you. Everyone was so nice — just real people!
I of course don’t like many photos of myself, but thanks for the compliment! 🙂
Hi Alison–You’re quite welcome and thanks! Isn’t it hard to believe that BlogHer Food was basically just that just one day for most folks? We accomplished a lot that Saturday!
We never like any photos of ourselves … even when others say, “that’s a great photo!” Human nature. 🙂
Have a great weekend!
Sounds like a fabulous time! And I just discovered some new blogs thanks to this entry–yesss!
Hey Jennifer!–Yes, fabulous, fantastic, awesome … all of that. 🙂 Glad you’re discovering some great new blogs … more to come in Part II!
Yeah! I just returned late last night from a biz trip to Phoenix and am reading your post over a cup of coffee and coconut milk. What a nice and relaxing way to start my morning. Great roundup of all the people, places (and faces), and things that happened at BlogHer. I loved reading it, but am now (more than ever) disappointed that I missed it! Next year for sure!
Thanks for taking the time to update all of us who didn’t make it. I really appreciate that!
Hi, Melissa–I’ll take cocoa and coconut milk, but relaxing with your favorite hot drink while reading sounds very lovely. Yes, look forward, dear! BlogHer Food 2010 … we’ll all be the first ones to sign up!
Part II to come for sure …
Thanks so much. 🙂 Hugssss,
Andrea Meyers says
Shirley it was lovely to meet you! I’m always excited to find fellow Virginia/DC Metro food bloggers. We should plan some kind of meetup for the VA food bloggers every few months, it would be great to stay connected.
Andrea– Thanks! I’m so glad Diane introduced us. 🙂 Diane was talking about organizing exactly that type of event … maybe every six months or so. I love the idea! Face-to-face periodically would be such fun and so helpful for us all I think.
Diane-The WHOLE Gang says
Wow, great post. Thank you so much for the kind words. You did such a great job sharing about the people you met. You’re a great writer. It was such a fun event and I had a blast touring San Fran with you. Can’t believe we met the night before we left. I feel like I’ve known you for a long time. Sure miss hanging out. I can’t wait to read part 2!
Hey, Diane–Thanks, and you’re welcome. 😉 We had a blast indeed! I’m missing the hanging out part, too. The occasional emails are just not the same. 😉 We’ll get together sooner than later though … I’m sure of it.
I’ve really been enjoying your BlogHer Food posts, including the reviews of the wonderful restaurants where we dined.
Elisa Camahort Page says
Wow, Shirley, yours may be the most thorough recap I’ve read yet…you’re so nice to tell such a great little story about every single person.
Thanks so much for being there, and I’ll look forward to chatting over mushrooms again in 2010 🙂
Hi, Elisa–Thanks so very much for the compliment! Remember … this is only Part I. 😉 Everyone has a story and I’m happy to able to share them in a small way. 🙂
It was my great pleasure to attend BlogHer Food ’09! Just from the response here and at the other food blogs I read, it looks like we’ll have many more food bloggers who want to attend in 2010! Everyone wil be waiting excitedly to get the date and location, but no pressure or anything. LOL
Best to you and BlogHer!
noble pig says
You are so lucky to have gone!
Hi, Cathy/noble pig–I know … it’s so true! We need to get you there next year. You have one of the best food blogs in the blogosphere! You can take one or two days off from your vineyards and winery, right? 🙂
Thanks for sharing that Shirley. It’s nice to hear about it and see pictures. I wish I could have been there. I wonder if it will always be out west. Glad you could go!
Linda–I know they hold a good number of BlogHer conferences in NYC, so that’s probably a good east coast option for one. Or D.C. … that would be sooo close for us. 🙂 Hope you can come to the next one! I know you’d love it!
Shirley, You are so sweet–thank you for the kind words. I love that you took the time to write about each person you met. Getting to know fellow bloggers was certainly the best part of the conference for me and many others. I think your post really demonstrates that.
Thank you and my pleasure, Mary Kate! I’m glad you agree that it was a great event because of the people. 🙂 If we could have harnessed the energy and excitement in that group, who knows what we could have accomplished!
The Diva on a Diet says
Shirley, what a wonderful recap! I feel like I’m living the fun all over again just reading this. Wow, you’ve done a marvelous job!!! You’ve written so personally about each of the people you met that I feel like I met them too … even when I didn’t. You have a real gift! 🙂
Diva–You’re back online–hooray! Thanks so much. 🙂 You’re in Part II. 😉 I’m away right now (POM Wonderful Blogger Harvest Festival–woohoo!), but Part II will be up soon.
Oh Shirley I am so happy you had a blast 🙂
You all look great!
Am I allowed to be slightly jealous as well? I wish I could have been there and would love to meet all you wonderful ladies. Perhaps we should organize a huge GF party somewhere in the middle of the US? We would have so much fun and yummy treats to share!!! Glad you ladies got to meet!! xox, your coconutty friend
Hey there, Em, my coconutty friend!–I can never think of anything coconut without thinking of you, so I think of you very often! Of course, you can be jealous. I sure would be if I hadn’t gotten to attend and meet these girls. 🙂 I’m all for the huge gf party. We could plan now and meet in the summer. Let’s talk more. 😉
Shirley, what a neat opportunity to get to go there! Looks like you met so many people and I bet is was nice to put a real live face with a name. Good for you!!
Robin–Hi there! Yes, it was a fabulous experience … I’m having another one now at the POM festival. I’ve been a lucky girl these past several weeks … meeting up with all my blogging celebrities! 😉
You should join us next year—you’d love it! 🙂
Hello Dear Shirley,
What a great post on Blogher. It was so nice to meet you at the conference, (and on the street first) was like meeting an old friend.
Thanks for all that you do for the gluten free blogging world.
Thanks, Elana!! I’m behind schedule on my BlogHer posting, but it’s kind of neat to make the fun last a little longer. 🙂 Thanks so very much for your kind words—I feel exactly the same way!
We are all doing our part. Your blog and cookbook are helping so many!