It was another fulfilling, info-packed day at the 2018 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). The IFBC attendees gathered in a single ballroom for a series of presentations including a keynote from this year’s recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Book of the Year, Michael W. Twitty, and sessions on leveraging social media platforms and a round-robin mixer with emerging food producers. My highlights for day two are as follows.
- Breakfast at Mother’s Restaurant. The last time I was in New Orleans, I had dinner at this greasy spoon that served up some good New Orleans home cooking. I remember the Bloody Mary being really spicy and the red beans and rice as being “stick to your ribs” rich. But I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant. I even texted my friend Kristin who took me there. She couldn’t remember either. Then on Friday night at the Taste of New Orleans mixer, Mother’s was there among the other restaurateurs and food vendors, and it all came back to me. I decided to start my morning at Mother’s with a Bloody Mary, scrambled eggs, grits and a biscuit—a big, square, fluffy, soft biscuit. That biscuit alone was worth the calories.
- Michael W. Twitty’s keynote. An amazing storyteller, Twitty validated the importance of food writing and research as a means to understand history and human behavior. His story of how he uncovered the origins of Southern African-Americans’ tradition to plant basil by the front door to ward off evil spirits is a reminder of how connected we are to our past no matter how far we’ve traveled.
- “Instagram Pictures are Worth a Thousand Words.” Of all the social media sites that I am on, Instagram is the one where my audience is growing consistently, but very, very slowly. However, Cupcake Project’s Stefani Pollack’s presentation was inspiring and gives me hope that I too can get 500 followers a day. Someday. Someday soon, I hope.
- Food photography. Again, because Instagram has the greatest potential for my bran for audience growth, this session taught by Couple in the Kitchen’s Gavin Booth & Karen Reinsberg was incredibly useful for me. Their real-time demo of Adobe® Lightroom and easy tips for both phone and digital SLR users was invaluable.
- Live food and drink social. One of the last sessions of the day, the live food and drink social was so inspiring. It was great to meet the various food vendors, but especially those promoting new products. I especially enjoyed talking to people who took a leap of faith and invested time and energy into their dreams. Their confidence came through in their products. My personal favorite was the sister duo of Bulldog Pepper Jelly. Their energy was infectious, and their jelly was oh so good. I may try replicating the Brussels sprouts I had at Gentle Harvest with their strawberry pepper jelly.
Bonus highlight—Winning a registration to next year’s conference in Juneau, AK. As soon as conference organizers announced that IFBC 2019 would be in Juneau, I started doing the math in my head for the travel costs and who I would bring with me—Alaska has been on my bucket list for a while. But then they announced me as the winner of the IFBC 2018 Pub Crawl scavenger hunt. I was surprised that I had been selected. I didn’t find everything on the scavenger hunt list, but what I did find was documented on my Instagram account. I am so excited, I can’t wait to start my research into the Juneau food scene.