My Visit to the 2011 International Food Blogger Conference – Santa Monica

I now know why they call it LaLa! Yes, as soon as the plane touched down and the flight attendant announced that our luggage would arrive on carousel B (for Botox) I knew that I wasn’t in Chicago anymore.

I flew to southern California for the International Food Blogger Conference in Santa Monica, but before it started, I had the opportunity to tour the area with a dear friend. The first spot she took me to was Palisades Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

It was a bright, clear day and we could see up the coast all the way to Malibu. She brought her pups along and they had a great time greeting other dogs and chasing squirrels (which I learned was a favorite activity). All of the dog owners seemed so friendly and would chat with one another while the pups enjoyed a good sniff. Pretty normal right? Except that a fellow blogger overheard a conversation between one dog owner to another in which one owner offered the other his dog’s calling card. Maybe it’s a novel way to get a date? Have to say though, I’ve never met a dog in Chicago with their own calling card.

Next, we drove to Montana Avenue where I spied cute, little boutiques and cafes. To my amazement, the dry cleaner and the corner coffee shop had valet parking! You won’t find that in Chicago, either.

We parked and started walking and I admired how perfect the grass was….oh wait, it’s not really grass….it’s astroturf…no wonder it looked so perfect! Again, another difference between southern California and Chicago.

On Friday afternoon the conference started. I’m not going to show you too many of pics of folks standing on the stage gesturing at the screen, but I will show a few.

Linda Miller Nicholson, Salty Seattle, was part of the panel along with Dianne Jacob, Will Write for Food, Robin Goldstein, Blind Taste, and Barnaby Dorfman,, who spoke about blogging our values.

Here’s a picture of Linda showing us even though she IS salty, she’s salty with a heart. She spearheaded the book, Nudie Foodies to benefit the victims of the tsunami in Japan. Shown pictured is Irvin Lin, Eat the Love, who said that he smelled of milk for days after this shoot…but his skin was really soft!

Recognize this guy? He’s so darn charming and I’m not just saying that because I know him! I heard, “Susie…Susie”, as Matt Armendariz, of the much loved blog, Matt Bites, jumped down off the stage and came over to greet me. We had known each other through Facebook and Twitter and now had a chance to meet in person. That’s one of the best things about these conferences…you get to meet your online friends face to face.

Matt was there to teach us about food photography for blogs and he also brought along food styling tips from Adam Pearson, who couldn’t be there in person, but was in spirit and pictures.

Another online friend is Nicole, Pinch My Salt, who I also got to meet. She brought her famous sour dough starter so that I (and many others) can participate in Doughvember…can’t wait to get started and share my adventures baking that treat!

I do want to thank all of the speakers and sponsors for the conference. Even though I couldn’t attend every session (sometimes you had to decide between 2) or taste every dish, I so appreciate that you helped so many to enjoy the conference even more!

I heard so many speakers that were informative and inspiring; here are a few more pics. I loved the intelligent and humorous stories by author Kathleen Flinn, and the honesty of Olga Massov, Sassy Radish,  who both spoke about food writing.

Kathleen Flinn was then joined by Lisa Ekus of The Lisa Ekus Group, and Silvana Nardone, who enlightened us about taking your blog to book which was both aspirational and inspirational.

Food trucks were on the menu for lunch.

Another great treat of the conference was making new friends…here I am with my newest friend Julee, My Happy Life by the Bay, enjoying lunch.

What to wear to a food truck lunch? Christian Louboutins, of course, if you are Linda Miller Nicholson,  known for her high style and even higher heels!

One of the best sessions for me was Rand Fishkin,  SEOmoz, and Barnaby Dorfman, talking to us about marketing our brand.

Michelle McClendon, Gwendolyn Alley, and Michael Wangbickler instructed us about pairing food and wine in order to incorporate wine into our blog…and yes, we HAD to drink a bit of wine for this one!

Saturday night we enjoyed a wonderful dinner prepared by Chef Michael Moore. He’s a funny, talented chef transplanted to LA from England via Australia. Recently diagnosed with diabetes and heart issues he has just published his new book, Blood Sugar. I hope that the recipe for that delicious salad he prepared is in it.

The last session that I attended was about monetizing with Barnaby Dorfman, Melissa Lanz, and Andie Mitchell. Wow, I was so inspired by all of them and I can’t wait for Andie to come out with her two new books. She’s 26 and on the road to fulfilling her dreams…look out Oprah!

Time to get back in my friend’s car for more of my tour of this incredible, fantasy filled town. We curved along Mulholland Drive and stopped to see the valleys and incredible homes….oh, who lives there? Really?

Touring Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, you have to wonder about the glamorous lifestyles of the folks who live there.

How many of these people lead those “reality show” lives? Probably a lot of them are just like us…or at least I’d like to think so.

As the sun was setting, I headed back to Chicago where my dear husband surprised me by making a homemade Sunday Supper even though I arrived close to midnight…thanks sweetie, that meant so much!


3 Responses to “My Visit to the 2011 International Food Blogger Conference – Santa Monica”

  1. 1

    kathy richardson — Monday, November 21, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    It sounds (and looks) like you had a great time. I went there last year for a wedding and was similarly dazzled by the differences from my home town.

  2. 2

    julee jingle — Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @ 3:48 am

    This is a fabulous review of the conference Susie! I liked it as much as the conference! : ) And your photos are knockout. I’ve spent time on our week away thinking about all that I learned and the more that I thought about it the more I realized I learned. Love that!

  3. 3

    Sandy — Wednesday, November 23, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

    Hi Susie,

    it was so nice to meet you on IFBc and now, reading your post, brings me back to SaMo. Me and my better half visited LA too (like tourists) and it was diverse to us. We had some great meals in SaMo, visited Farmers Market but the so called Glitz and Glam of Hollywood Boulevard and so on was not ours. I have wrote two posts about IFBC and the days after to pass in review.
    I remember our conversation friday evening. If you are interested in a translation of your old german recipe, please feel free and let me know.
    A very happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and best wishes from germany, Sandy

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