A food & wine conference is the best value for bloggers looking to maximize their professional development and to hobnob with brands and other bloggers. For my money, the Food & Wine Conference produced by the Sunday Supper Movement and the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando is the conference to attend. Recently, I attended the Food & Wine Conference for the second year in a row. Besides being an incredible value, here are a few basic reasons that food and wine bloggers should attend the Food & Wine Conference (#FWCon) in 2015.
Never Meeting Strangers
From left: Lisa Goldfinger, T.R. Crumbley, Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes, and Marlene Baird. Photo copyright Marlene Baird, 2014
Affinity among participants is one of the basics of a great food & wine conference. At #FWCon, I never meet a stranger. It’s true that a number of bloggers at #FWCon get to know each other virtually through participation in Sunday Supper activities throughout the year. This is the case for me. Meeting bloggers like T.R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley and Marlene Baird of Nosh My Way , whose blogs I already knew, gave dimension to my conference experience. Getting to know new bloggers and wonderful blogs that I might never have discovered, like Lisa Goldfinger and her blog Panning the Globe, was also valuable for me. Bloggers at #FWCon who were not Sunday Supper contributors seemed just as comfortable as bloggers who were familiar with each other.
At #FWCon, family and fellowship seem to be the prevailing themes. That feeling of closeness didn’t change in 2014 despite a rise in conference participation. Rather than several concurrent sessions, we all stayed together throughout Saturday’s workshops. This “togetherness” mattered to me. We learned, we laughed, we ate together. Although I was in the same rooms with television chefs and published cookbook authors, the theme and feeling of family togetherness overruled any nervousness that I might have had.
Up Close & Personal Demos
Another basic at a food & wine conference is access to cooking demonstrations. I’ve attended such demos at other conferences where thousands of people attended. I prefer not to stand on a chair. I prefer being close to the action and having a good chance to ask questions. The demonstrations at #FWCon were organized and arranged for intimacy. Throughout the conference, there was a prevailing sense of friendliness and familiarity among the participants, the hosts, and brands, and the speakers that encouraged connections–which is one of the reasons to attend a food and wine conference.
I can’t think of any other conference that would include getting a ride in a fancy car (like a Rolls Royce!) to a morning session. Thanks to Fields BMW in Orlando, my fellow blogger friends and I felt like rich folk. Of course, riding in a Rolls Royce isn’t a basic of a good food & wine conference, but the experience definitely makes #FWCon more memorable—and fun.
Food & Wine Conference Food
The food at a food & wine conference should delight and inspire. The food pictured above are just a few of the dishes served at #FWCon 2014. Several dishes were conceived and developed by bloggers attending the conference, such as the Bittersweet Balsamic Strawberry Swirl Brownies from Jenni Field of Pastry Chef Online and the Raspberry Chambord Brownies from Liz Berg at That Skinny Chick Can Bake (Both pictured above.) See all the food contest winners here.
Being amazed and inspired by the food at #FWCon starts on Friday evening with the Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel event. Bloggers get to taste portions of dishes served in the hotel’s restaurants. Chefs are available to talk to participants and even the owner of the resort, Harris Rosen, is on hand to welcome bloggers.
Learning about food and wine is key to being a well-rounded food blogger. I can say that a part of my education about wines and wine paring is due to the completely enjoyable and relaxed “Wine 101” presentation during the family-style dinner on Saturday night. The Gallo Family Vineyards sponsored the #FWCon 2014 wine selections during the dinner. After the dinner, I came away knowing which wines to serve with seafood and vegetarian dishes. See all 2014 sponsors.
Overall, a food & wine conference should leave food and wine bloggers feeling more knowledgeable and confident about their brand and more adventurous about going home and trying new food and wine combinations. In addition to this, what bloggers take away from #FWCon is a full heart from being among not just friends, but from being part of a lineage born of a vision to share and learn as family—around the supper table.