Food Blogger Camp 2011

posted on: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

About 40 Food bloggers who went to Food Blogger Camp are posting tweets and pictures, blog posts and facebook updates about our trip with messages to new friends and inside jokes, revealing how fabulous and luxurious our rooms, food, and maid service were and how being home can be so blech! Then there are the thousands of food bloggers who did not get to go and are reading these tweets and are probably gleaning from our posts a mixture of lessons learned with a touch of potential resentment, things like this have a way of creating unnecessary cliques.

I'm going to be honest with you, I wish you had been there.

I want to share my experience with you--but the thought of getting a comment saying, "I'm so jealous you went" makes me sad. If you start to get an inkling of such feelings I advise you to walk away from the computer, get the tallest and biggest jar that you have and empty out the coins from your wallet into it and start saving, also save your vacation days, so we can go together next year.

We can be roomies.

That above is Diane from White on Rice Couple, an extraordinary food and travel photographer who was one of the camp leaders. Next to her, with the camera, is Rosa Vu from the blog saVUryandsweet who like myself is, you know, just another food blogger. I wanted to show you this picture because that connection right there happened constantly, over and over and over again, so that by the end of the trip I don't think Rosa or any of us felt like just another blogger, we felt listened to and respected and filled with hope and excitement for our food blogs.

Everyone has something they love right? Christian, for example, loves surfing. I wish Christian had a chance to spend  5 days with Kelly Slater and other top surfers, in a beautiful place where they could surf all day and hang and where Kelly Slater would spend one on one time with him giving tips on how to catch the perfect barrel. 

Unfortunetly, there is no such thing in surfing or in many other areas where people's passion lie. Lucky for me food blogging is different, only because of the people who started this thing. That above is Elise, from Simply Recipes, and David from David Lebovitz. These two along with that wild muchacha below,

Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen, are the Kelly Slaters of food blogging and they are nice. They are kind and generous to the core. They are geniuses in what they do, talented beyond words, and extremelly hard working--deserving of their success without a doubt .

Dear Elise, David, Jaden, Matt, Adam, Todd and Diane
Thank you to the moon and back.
Thank you!

I learned about SEO and food styling. I learned about business strategies and ad revenue. I learned about writing and design. And I learned about being nice. I learned about being generous with the knowledge and resources you have. I learned about respect and community. I learned about being a good listener.

Every single time I spoke to one of these anchor bloggers they would look up from their ipad or their iphones or, more regularly, from their Margaritas and they would listen to me. Today when Christian came over to ask me a question and I was on twitter, I stopped what I was doing and gave him the attention he needed. I'm already putting to practice what I learned.

I also learned a lot from Matt and Adam, Todd and Diane, about food photography and food styling. I am deeply in love with both. Could I be a food stylist one day? My head is spinning with ideas.

Seeing Adam in action was a dream come true.

And picking Matt's brain about photography was a sweet treat. 

But really it was the time Matt and I spent eating together talking about his Alfajores and my Bem Casados, and how pork is done in Hawaii and his hilarious experience trying to cook a whole cow's head that failed, that makes me want to pack the family in the the car and drive down to L.A next week and hang. I should know this so thoroughly by now that it shouldn't surprise me -- connecting over food is long lasting.

We stayed in an all inclusive resort so we did a whole lot of eating, drinking, food talking, and consequently bonding. The food made us feel spoiled and the cooking demonstrations made us giddy.

The camp was conveniently held at a 5 diamond all inclusive resort, on the white sand beaches of Riviera Maya Mexico, called Grand Velas Riviera Maya. All inclusive is really the only way to go when you're hosting 40 food bloggers, because we ate a lot and drank a lot.

I thought last year's family reunion at Yosemite was pretty nice and we camped and didn't shower for a week. I'm comfortable with that. But let me tell you, I got used to the pampering in Grand Velas in no time.

"Senhorita, can I carry your plate for you?"
"Senhorita, can I make your bed?"
"Senhorita, can I bring you fresh juice and fresh fruit in the morning?

I was quickly comfortable saying "si, por favor"
The Grand Velas Riviera Maya is perfectly perfect.
Waking up you feel an urge to step outside and say "cue the sun!"
You can't help but feel like you're living in the Truman Show.

In fact, I bet Jim Carrey would of had a hilarious time hanging out with us at the pool and making silly movies with Matt's iphone 8mm app.

I hope you don't feel left out.
I hope you feel invigorated that, if you are a food blogger, you are part of such a great community.
Hopefully next year you can join in on the fun.

In the meantime I wanted to share some words of wisdom from the wise ones to help with your own blog.

Jaden Hair- Steamy Kitchen
  • People like consistency. Develop a professional logo that defines your blog, something you can use and be proud of so that if one day you develop, for example, a line of cookware you can put your logo on it and people will know what it is.
David Lebovitz- David lebovitz
  • Be a nice person. Don't say anything negative about other bloggers online. Blogs are like antique stores, we all thrive on the same street.
Elise Bauer - Simply Recipes
  • Have a focus, creativity loves contraints. Be able to answer the questions, who is your audience and why would they be interested in your site?" "Who are you trying to reach?" Answer the following question to yourself, "my blog is for _____________ who are looking for _______________." Find your genius!
Todd and Diane - White on Rice Couple
  • Before you shoot know where your light is coming from and where the shadows are coming from. Understand both.
Matt Armendariz - Matt Bites
  • Food supports a story. Remember, there is a story behind everything you shoot.
Adam Pearson - Adam Pearson
  • The job of a food stylist is to create movement and enhance texture and create a great mood. Read a recipe, then take it apart and figure out how you can make each individual ingredient or component look good.

I want to thank my fellow campers, first and foremost for being so generous and letting me use their pictures. Most of the pictures from this post came from the food blog camp flickr page. Particularly,  Confections of a Foodie Bride, Kitchen Conundrum,  David Lebovitz,  Food Woolf,  Daily Nibbles,  Dianasaur Dishes, and Adventures of an Amateur Foodie.

Your pics were great.
Thanks for sharing.
Feel free to use mine.
Sorry I hardly took any.
xoxo, Da

I also want to recognize Kerrygold Butter for being quick to sponsor this event. Some of my fellow food bloggers were able to attend due to scholarships they received and Kerrygold Butter is in great part to thank for that. I am truly grateful that every single one of my fellow campers were able to attend. Even though I sit alone on my computer, I feel like this experience showed me that I am surrounded by wonderful colleagues and true friends.

  • A Communal Table: Nancy was my roommate. We stayed up late at night talking about kids and raw milk. I love her.

  • Acorns and Apples: Aimee has a beautiful vegetarian blog with lots of baking and food history. 

  • Adventures of an Amateur Foodie: Marie is going to be a Doctor, but in the meantime you can get restaurant reviews from the San Diego area from her. If you're ever in san Diego look her up, she's crazy funny.

  • Angela in Provence: Angela is a witty British gal living in Provence.

  • Awake at the Whisk: Amber and I were separated at birth, only she's a much better writer than I am.

  • Bake Cupcakes: Sally is a wonderful chef who knows her stuff

  • Confections of a Foodie Bride: Shawnda is also a mom to a baby girl. Her blog is colorful and fun with amazing pictures.

  • Couch Surfing Cook: Wylie takes in people all the time and writes about her wild adventures.

  • Daily Nibbles: Sarah is a girl from Vermont who has a passion for life. I can only see her succeeded in whatever she decided to do. I can't help but be excited for her. 

  • Deliciously Organic: Carrie's book just came out this past week. Go grab a copy! It sounds amazing.

  • Dianasaur Dishes: Diana is my hero. She and her husband live on a $100 monthly food budget.

  • Eating Clean Recipes: Jen writes about healthy food.

  • Family Fresh Cooking: Marla taught me all about Stevia and other natural sweeteners.

  • Fast Feasts: Lillie worked in the food industry for many years. Lucky her she still got to stay some extra days in Cancun.

  • Food for the Thoughtless: Go to Michael's blog right now and read his gingerbread drag queen post. Prepare to laugh and then laugh some more.

  • Food Woolf: Brooke writes about food and the restaurant industry as an insider. She's an incredible writer and an incredible person.

  • Frantastic Food: Fran taught me all about Foie Gras

  • Garlic Escapes: Robin is currently working on a book about garlic. I know quit a few people who will love it.

  • Indigo Days: Nancy lives and writes about Japanese farms. She is also currently writing a book.

  • Kitchen Conundrum: Renee and Ari, cute couple with a useful blog.

  • Ladles and Jellyspoons: Lucy is another British gal with a wonderful sense of style, her blog shows it too.

  • Loaded Kitchen: Maggie has a beautifully designed blog with easy recipes. Win!

  • Mommie Cooks: I think Julie's blog title says it all.

  • Pinch My Salt: Nicole makes great food and has a beautiful blog. I hope she'll take me to Italy one day.

  • Recipe Renovator: If you have food intolerances and want someone to change your recipes to accomodate your needs please contact Stephanie. She is the queen of organization and positive attitude.

  • Sally Cameron: In the Kitchen | On the road | Through the Lens: Sally saved me at the airport when I fever spiked and my body ached all over. She's a personal chef who shares tips an recipes on her blog.

  • SaVUry and Sweet: Rosa Vu, not only can she give you essential fashion tips but also great social commentary on things like the McRib.

  • The Urban Baker: Susan is also a busy mom and her recipes are exactly what I would cook for my family.

  • What's Gaby Cooking?: Gaby is a personal Chef in LA. Her site is easy to navigate and her recipes look fantastic.

  • I am now ready to digest through my meticulous notes, brain storm with Christian, bounce off ideas with Mariko and anyone else who will care to listen, change up some things, organize loose ends, and continue to do what I love.


    1. I'm so happy that you got to go, Damaris. If I save up enough money will you really be my roommate? (Because I totally love you.) Great recap. I really do think I'm going to pull out a big jar and start saving.

    2. Da,
      What a beautiful post! You captured the experience with such soul and heart. Thank you for sharing your lovely perspective. It was wonderful to meet you and I hope to see you in the Bay Area or San Diego soon!

    3. This is one of the best recaps I have read of the food blogger camp. It sounds like a wonderful trip, in so many ways. I'm already saving my pennies.

    4. Thank you so much for a wonderful recap! I learned just by reading it :)

      I'm so grateful you got to go so you could share all this wonderful info! Maybe next year I can go, and we can be roommate ;)

    5. You could so be a stylist if you wanted to be one. And I love the advice from the pros-good for any kind of blogger-thanks for sharing.

    6. After reading your post I zipped across to David L's site (how GREAT is he, I made his pretzel nut mix recently and won many new friends, haha!). This camp looks so great. Glad you put at least one photo of you in there too! If Mexico wasn't so far I would probably considr going too.

    7. Wow, you learned so much valuable information in such a short time! You are so lucky! How does one go about attending? Do you have to be invited?

    8. What a beautiful recap Da! What a learning experience it must have been. You've shared great tips that I'll be certain to remember. Next year roomie!

    9. those are all such great words of wisdom. thanks for sharing!!

    10. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful time! And such yummy food too ;)

    11. That sounds just perfect! I really do need to save my pennies for next year! How do you even find out about these wonderful camps? (I'm so ignorant, I know, sorry)
      Those pictures are just beautiful, I especially love the steamy latte ones and that last one on the deck, Ahhhhhhh.
      I so look forward to vising each of your mentioned blogs and sites! thank you so much for such a wonderful post Da!

    12. bwahahaha i can't believe you have those pics front and center on your post... thanks for the blog love

    13. LOVE this recap! And where you said you "learned how to be nice"--I think you already knew that one in spades. Beautifully written piece. You are a delight and although I hate that we were separated at birth, I'm so glad we reunited at camp and that I get to see you soon. :)

    14. I love this post! I am so happy for you -- (and only the TEENSIEST bit jealous), what a truly amazing experience. And the photos! SUPERB! What a photographer! So happy that you had what sounds like an unforgettable experience. I am going to start saving for next year! And be careful what you ask for, the roommate request is totally coming... :)

    15. Oh if I was only as good at food as you are! Maybe in 5 years when I have my dream baking blog. I'm so happy you went. I think I could get used to that kind of living quickly too! Yay for you!

    16. You are amazing & I learned so much from your gorgeous recap! I hope to connect again in the future. I agree-saving pennies is well worth it. If you ever have any more questions about the sweets please reach out. I would love to share these blogger passions down the road :)

    17. looks great, I would of love to of gone! Jealous of that hotel and the cool people.

    18. Da! At the end of this post, I just wanted to be at the pool with you, Amber, Aimee, and everyone else. I am so glad to have met you and we'll have to hang out before you head to beautiful Brazil and I head... well, wherever I find an acceptance letter. ;)

    19. Da,

      I miss you roomie!!! What a wonderful recap of the camp - I know you are destined for great things and I cannot wait to see it all unfold and tell people "I knew here when..."!!!

    20. Wonderful recap! Looking forward to how your experience in camp will shine in your future blog posts!

    21. WOWzer, what a fantastic trip. It would be freeing to go somewhere are truly focus on my newest passion. Thanks for sharing.

    22. Wow! I am so jealous of you that you got to do all the fun things. I think Mariko felt same.
      This was fun reading.

    23. @Stephanie I feel the same about you. I really enjoyed meeting you. I hope we can get together soon, so soon!

    24. @Cookin' Canuck YAY! you need to come. I think you would get so much out of it.

    25. @Estela @ Weekly Bite I am so happy I got to go. Luckily the stars aligned perfectly so that It became a possibility.

    26. @Kristen, The Pajama Mama That's what I was aiming for. Good advice can be used in so many ways.

    27. @Cassandra Allen David took that picture of me, actually. It was either that pic or one of me in my swim suit. yeah, not so much!

    28. @Annie You don't have to be invited. You just need to apply. Check out the website for more info.

    29. @Healthy Mamma You're not ignorant at all! go to for more info. Thanks for such a nice comment.

    30. @Nancy ahahaha, you crack me up! I can't wait for more parenting talks with you. You were the perfect roommate for me.

    31. @Nippon Nin I wish you had come. I know you would of loved it.

    32. Thank you for the blog and pictures mention. It's so lovely to see them up here. I have been so busy with the editing of all of them that I have yet to write our recap! Next step!

      I love your blog and can't wait to read more of your wonderful posts. Thanks again and really looking forward to next year!

    33. What a fantastic time, thanks for sharing. I'd love to attend this myself, guess I better start saving my pennies...if I don't spend them all in South Africa this year. I'm bookmarking just in case! Not to make you feel bad...but I can't help it to be just a smidgen jealous.

    34. i kinda stopped reading when you said you had maid service ;)
      Sounds like you had an amazing time...and we'll get to reap the benefits of all you learned.

    35. Da, I'm so glad I finally got to meet you. I loved the start of this post -- welcoming people to start saving their pennies and inviting them to be your roomie next year. We must organize that Bay Area food blogger dinner soon.

    36. Awesome.
      OF COURSE I'm jealous, but in a good way. Ha!
      Not only will I save my pennies, I will save all my babysitting hours. :)

    37. Wow. This sounds like such a good experience.

    38. I love your words: "when you connect over food, it's long-lasting." That is so powerful!

      Thanks for your overview, I enjoyed it (with only a twinge of jealousy) ;)

    39. Well done Da...this made for fabulous reading. I should have emptied a bucket a few years ago & begun collecting $$$ if I knew this would be what it was. Afraid I'm really VERY FAR away, but thanks for bringing it as close as a real life experience can be. Maybe one day ... until then I'll practice "si, por favor" ... Beautifully presented post!

    40. Oh, Damaris, this looks so incredible! You're so lucky you got to go! (And what a location too.) I'm definitely going to start saving for next year.

    41. @DessertForTwo Even if it's done via web. I feel like I've connected and made true friendships with people all over the world because of food.

    42. very happy for you pleased you had fun

    43. I really like how you were able to articulate your experience from your heart, and with passion. I'm a food photographer, but started out doing fashion.. so I'm not a true food blogger, I'm sort of in between, but it sounds like a fun trip, and there's always so much to learn, I learn something from my fellow mates everyday.. thanks for sharing.

    44. you have such a huge, giving heart. We're very happy to have met you and are even more excited to see your blog blossom over the next year. Keep up the wonderful and beautiful, heartfelt work. xo

    45. @Diane and Todd Thank you. You inspired me to try a little harder, do little more.

    46. @Globetrotting in Tokyo I really believe that there is room for everyone. Fashionistas Food bloggers alike :)

    47. Wonderful job retelling the story of FBC. And it was so awesome to meet and get a chance to talk food and baby girls with you :)

    48. @Shawnda Shawnda, is your girl walking yet? I'm excited to follow your blog. You and your husband inspired me to the moon and back!

    49. Damaris, I enjoyed meeting you too! Your blog looks wonderful. I am about to post and will definitely link this--great rundown, and I love that you listed each and every blogger, thank you. I can't wait to get off blogspot and move to a new site and new title! Today is a bit of a wash...snow!! No internet until now :)

    50. @Sally Pasley Vargas Thanks Sally. Let me know how your transition away from blogger goes. I am also thinking about switching over to wordpress.

    51. Looks like a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing some of the wisdom.

      P.S. No one has a better time than Jaden!

    52. what an incredible event! I wish I could have been much too learn, so little time..sigh
      Glad you were able to enjoy it!

    53. @Chef Dennis Please go next year. We need more guys bloggers and it's so easy to love you!

    54. Wow...I will not say I'm jealous, but I will start saving :) What a wonderful event and experience, went over it twice to make sure I got it all. So very happy for you sounds like you had a beautiful experience :)

    55. @Magic of Spice I really did. Thanks for your comment. I look ofrward to reading your blog. That Gallet today made me super hungry.

    56. Thanks for sharing. Let me go grab the huge empty jar and start saving!!! Hope to see you at the camp next year! ;)

    57. It sounds like you had an amazing time learning new things and meeting new people! I won't say that I'm jealous (even though I might be ;) ) but I will say that I hope to join you at this event one time!

    58. what a thoughtful and generous re-cap, Da. I so enjoyed meeting you at the airport. i was exhausted, with only 2 hours of sleep, and your bright and cheerful demeanor put me in a better place. I look forward to getting to know you better via your blog and hopefully, in the near future, we will meet again!

    59. Thanks for sharing Da! I really wish I had known about this or I may have started saving my pennies :) It looks like such an amazing time, and I agree all inclusive is the way to go. I loved the Truman Show reference, I refer to that movie all the time!

    60. It sounds like so much fun! I wish I could save up for this, but I am currently unemployed and we're saving everything we can to have a baby in the near future... so I would say it is a worthwhile cause to stay home for! :)

    61. @Emily Z Yes a very worthy cause indeed. If you need baby girl clothes let me know. I'm not even joking!

    62. What a wonderful post Damaris. I think you've summed it up the best; it's about community and we're all a part of it!

    63. @Julie M. Thanks Julie. I so enjoyed meeting the person behind the wonderful blog "Mommy Cooks". You amaze me.

    64. Da,
      It was great meeting you and sharing those inspiring moments together in paradise. I love your wrap up and your generous descriptions of our journey. Thank you most for that hug on the last day! Great meeting you. Will see you in LA some time soon, I hope!

    65. @Brooke Brooke, I would love to get together with you again. I feel like our conversation was never long enough.

    66. Damaris, I wasn't sure if I already commented (I think I did) but I did not say what Todd & Diane expressed--you really have such a loving energy about you and I know that will take you far, your heart shines through in your writing so who would not want to return to that for more? Happy new year! xxoo Sally

    67. This sounds like such an amazing experience!! I didn't know about the camp this year - but you inspired me to go to their website and sign up to receive updates for 2012! Hopefully I'll see you there next year - thanks so much for sharing all the lessons learned and cool photos from this year's event :)

    68. Hey Da! I got back to Vermont a day late and went right back to a busy work week. I'm catching up on recaps. Your pictures are so lovely and thanks for the super nice compliment. It was so wonderful meeting you {and all of the other bloggers} last week. I heard you were meeting up with Amber soon. Jealous! Maybe I need to move to Cali? That seems to be the big food blogging scene.


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