Phew, what a weekend! My first ever blogging conference was a whirlwind of meeting new people, learning new things and of course eating and drinking everything I possibly could. As with any big event, going back to real life on Monday felt like being harshly woken up from a happy dream, a dream where no one minds that you like to take photos of food and the coffee is free-flowing.
On Saturday I arrived at Perth City Farm sweaty from having walked (and already gotten lost) from the bus stop and feeling more than a little nervous. I knew a grand total of ONE person at the conference and he seemed busy, so I got myself some coffee and pastries and timidly hovered around the back of the room trying to balance everything and look liked I, possibly the only impostor who is more of a personal blogger than a food blogger, belonged. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I managed to start talking to people, and then it was time for the day to officially begin.
The conference consisted of roughly half lecture-style presentations, and half panels on various topics. These were of course broken up by breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and after a break, dinner. I was having one of those days where I can’t stop sneezing so unfortunately spent a lot of the talks standing by the door feeling various degrees of ill, but what I did manage to catch was wonderfully informative and very well presented. In particular I enjoyed learning about Adam’s playful storytelling approach to writing; the process behind coffee as told by Jeremy from Five Senses Coffee; the heated debate between Cynthia and Phil about the ethics of working with PR; Simon’s ‘p0rn or inform’ approach to food photography; and Thang’s wakeup call on the importance of keeping up with the current audience which is increasingly mobile and video-loving. I didn’t really know what to expect coming into it, but the quality of presentations and the efficiency with which everything was carried out really said a lot about the work that the committee put into organising the event. I was completely impressed and now understand why people bothered to fly all the way out to Perth for a food blogging conference – time and money permitting, I think I’ll fly wherever it’s going to be held next year!
Then of course there was the food – and boy was there a lot of it. I was expecting the quality to be top-notch as almost every single person there would be photographing and/or writing about it, and I was not disappointed. I feel like I was reasonably restrained and didn’t give in to the instinct to TRY ALL THE THINGS, although I’m now regretting declining Cialis to take a box or two of leftovers home. Normally when I eat with friends I apologise before taking photos and try to not be too obnoxious about it, but at a blogging conference anyone not taking photos is probably in the minority. Despite happily getting into the thick of it it was hilarious to see everyone flocking around each spread, snapping away and rearranging items just so to get the perfect shot for blogging later. If you follow other delegates from this event you will probably see the same photos of the same foods which I have here and I apologise for not being more unique, but I can’t resist taking photos of beautiful food! The standout for me was definitely lunch, which was made up of the most fresh and vibrant ingredients that were perfect for the hot sunny day, and made me feel less guilty about the number of pastries and sweets I ate at breakfast and morning tea.
Having just skimmed the program I didn’t realise there was a long break to freshen up before returning for dinner. I also didn’t realise that at blogging conferences you get FREE STUFF, and not just the lame brochures or fridge magnets I’ve gotten at industry events – there was AWESOME stuff, of the useful or edible or imbibable kind, and a lot of it. It did unfortunately make for a painful and sweaty train ride then walk back home trying to lug all my goodies as well as my heavy camera gear, and it did cross my mind to abandon something to lessen the load, but I did eventually make it home without collapsing.
After freshening up it was back to City Farm for dinner, this time consisting of some of Perth’s best food trucks (plus an open bar!) in our own little pop-up market. These vendors tend to attract huge crowds at regular markets, so it was lovely to get to try them in a more relaxed setting without having to line up. Here I discovered West Winds gin for the first time, stuffed myself with the goodness that is Marcelita’s Empanadas (without pausing to take a photo of them), tasted Old Lira pizza and braved the ‘VERY HOT’ chilli sprinkled over a pork belly salad from newcomer Bangkok Jump Street. I also chatted to so many people that I’m still trying to match up names, faces, twitter handles and blogs.
All in all it was a great experience, impressively organised and catered, and full of so many interesting people that I didn’t manage to get to meet them all properly. I’m so thankful for being allowed to come along!
Next up is part two of the conference – a cocktail and food matching session at The Classroom Bar – soon!