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.
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.
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.
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.