Good times and setting a bad example
My teens think I’ve set them a very bad example and are dining out on the story. Firstly I’m on Twitter “It’s for stalkers Mum”; I blog – “Mum’s got a food blog (rolling eyes)” and finally, last weekend, I committed the ultimate crime and went to stay with someone in London who I’d met on the internet “You warn US about stranger danger”. In fact I’d been given the incredibly generous offer of a place to stay by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours as I was going to my first ever food blogger conference Food Blogger Connect. I think she was the brave one by inviting some blogger who lives half way round the world to her home.
So why were a group of foodies drawn from different countries (and continents) to spend a weekend at The Hempel in West London? Dreams, ambitions and the opportunity to meet some like-minded fanatical food lovers; some came because they were thinking about putting a toe in the food blogging water and wanted some expert advice, some to emulate the awe-inspiring photography and styling of a master (or should I say mistress), others had their sights set on a book deal, recipe development, video demos and some dreamed of food blogger super-stardom, financial success (and working for 3 days a week). There were speakers and sessions for all this and more.
Equally valuable and enjoyable was the chance to meet fellow foodies from all over the world including Hungary, Bulgaria, Holland, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan, the U.S. and, of course, the U.K. Food bloggers tend to be a generous bunch – I think it’s got something to do with the sharing of food around a table and basics of breaking bread with friends. I also realised with a jolt just how fortunate I am to interact and meet up with my wonderful group (now over 50 in number) of food bloggers in the UAE – I think this hardly happens in London, let alone in other countries (the Dutch bloggers were in heaven). I was delighted to meet up with the authors of some of my favourite blogs including Poires au Chocolat, Extra Relish, Eggs on the Roof, Juls Kitchen, Zizi’s adventures, Maison Cupcake and Fabulicious Food.
Just a few of the presenters:
- Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, an incredibly warm, generous and multi-talented cook, TV presenter and author who started with a food blog and an audience of two – her husband and her Mum.
- Fiona Beckett who is an award-winning food and drink writer, compulsive blogger (food, wine and cheese blogs!) and author of 22 books. She blogged about her presentation here and received an entertaining rejoiner from Wine, Women & Song here.
- Tim Hayward – food writer, broadcaster and photographer and editor of Fire & Knives, a quarterly magazine of new food writing.
- Chef, food writer and TV presenter Anjum Anand, one of the first writers to create and write Indian recipes catering for the health-conscious cook.
- Caroline Mili Artiss who specialises in Malaysian food and is one of the first TV chef’s to be discovered on Youtube in the UK.
- Vanessa Kimbellwho gave up a well-paid job in IT and set herself the goal of writing a cookbook and getting it published within a year.
OK, I know it’s taken me a long time to get to this….what about the food? A variety of tempting delights kept emerging from The Hempel kitchens from delicate canapes to dainty tasting portions at the first reception to a sumptuous brunch including a fabulous eggs Benedict with smoked fish at the last brunch. Olives and French goats cheese were present throughout, and Leila added another centimetre to my waistline as I was unable to resist her handmade chocolates. But the main highlight for me was being introduced to Malaysian cuisine by May (of Malaysian by May) who took us to the Malaysian Student Canteen a few streets away. The food and conversation were varied and spicy.
I didn’t want to leave at the end of the weekend but tore myself away from drinking Pimms in the sunny garden with such a gregarious and talented group of friendly food bloggers, said goodbye to Bethany and massive thanks to Helen, and wandered to the tube station bowed under the weight of an enormous goodie bag, inspired, energised and ready for more cooking, eating and blogging.
PS There are masses of photos on Flickr if you’d like to see more.