When it comes to blogger conferences, especially food blogger conferences I'm pretty much a newbie. I only discovered that these types of conferences existed at the beginning of this year. Not only are they great to go to since you learn lots of valuable information on how to improve your blog but you also get to meet other food bloggers, eat delicious food and see new products sponsoring brands are coming out with.
On November 6-7, 2015, I along with food bloggers from all over the country gathered to attend BlogHer Food 15 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. This was my first time attending a BlogHer Food conference and after seeing pictures from past conferences and reading several blog posts that recapped last year’s conference, I was excited to finally be able to experience it first hand. Even though I've been to two food blogging conferences before, this was the first conference I attended since launching the Rican Vegan site so I couldn't wait to get to the conference and tell other bloggers about it!
The Pre-Conference Event
BlogHer Food 15 started out bright and early for me at 7:30 am when I arrived at the conference. After checking in at the registration booth and receiving my official BlogHer Food 15 swag bag, I headed to a special pre-conference event called “How About Them Apples?”.
It was hosted by Stemilt Growers and I got to learn more about the company and the fruit they grow. They also had an apple tasting where I tasted their gala, honeycrisp and pink lady apples as well as two new apple varieties I never tried before, the piñata and sweetango apples. All of the apples were sweet, crisp and mouthwatering. I definitely could have eaten more apples especially the sweetango apple since it had a great tropical flavor that I enjoyed very much.
The two day conference consisted of keynotes, lightning lessons, kitchen demonstrations and breakout sessions that focused on four separate tracks-business, social media, craft and visuals. There was even an opportunity for four bloggers to pitch their food business ideas and compete for a chance to win $100,000 worth of marketing, media and promotional support from SheKnows Media. I thought that was a great opportunity for any blogger who is looking to take their blog to the next level. During the breaks I was able to network with other bloggers and hear about the their blogs and talk about the conference sessions. I also had the chance to meet with brands and saw new product demonstrations and sampled food and drink products.
The conference ended with an on stage interview with Sarah Michelle Gellar, yes Buffy the Vampire Slayer was at a food blogger conference. She recently launched a culinary lifestyle brand called FoodStirs that offers convenient and healthy ways to get families back in the kitchen. She talked about what sparked the idea behind the company and the process she went through to launch it. Hearing her talk about her journey to get FoodStirs up and running definitely brought back memories of when I was working on launching this site. At the end of the interview she stayed behind to take pictures with conference attendees and this gal right here got one with her.
Both days were jam packed with food. In addition to breakfast and lunch that was provided by the conference, there were hors d'oeuvres and desserts at the welcome reception and after parties. Sponsors also gave out samples and snacks. Each night I went back to my hotel room with a full belly and enough snacks that would feed me for two weeks. I was very happy that there were vegan and gluten free options available as well so I didn't have to worry about what I was going to eat.
On the second day of the conference, we all headed out on the official conference food excursion to Eataly Chicago. Eataly is an Italian food emporium that contains several markets, cafes and restaurants. It's basically heaven for foodies since there are so many different food options to choose from. From the vegetables to the bread, the food they sell is high in quality and fresh.
Each night ended with a party where attendees could take a break from learning and have some fun. The first day ended with a karaoke party where attendees belted out tunes, snacked on some desserts and put the dance floor to good use. On the second day the closing party took place at a nearby club called The Underground. One of the hosts for the closing party was The Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond. Attendees had one last chance to get together, dance and meet new people before going home. Even at the closing party I was still meeting new bloggers who I didn't have a chance to meet during the conference.
After two full days of eating, learning and networking I was so exhausted but also sad that it went by so fast. I had a great time and took away a lot of information that will make Rican Vegan even better. My head is brewing with so many ideas after going to this conference so keep checking this site for new and exciting content coming soon. I'm excited that next year’s conference will be in Austin, TX and I can't wait for to see what's in store for it!