My Great Seattle Adventure, Part 2: Friends, Fun and (Lots of) Food


I started writing this post about five different times, and it has taken forever! I wanted to get it just right! Each time, I'd get a few paragraphs in and then I'd have to stop and start over. It just seemed so overwhelming! How do I sum up those two extraordinary, action-packed, fun-filled days that were the International Food Blogger Conference, or IFBC, as it is called by those "in the know". This has got to be one of the few times in my life that I really just can't seem to find the words! And unfortunately, I can't seem to find most of the pictures either. Shots I thought I took of the conference simply aren't there, and most of what I did get, came out pretty crappy. But, I do want to share my wonderful experience with you, so please bear with me as I suck it up and just do it! And, I warn you. It's going to be looooooong! I'll be blatantly borrowing some great photos I found on Foodista's Flickr Pages to supplement my own meager offerings. Please, nobody sue me!

With my trip to the fabulous Pike Place Market behind me, I turned my attention to the next part of my great Seattle adventure - the actual IFBC. The festivities were to commence on Friday evening with a cocktail party held at the historic Bemis Building in the SoDo district of the city. After I changed outfits three times, I headed down to the hotel lobby to catch the party bus shuttle, where I met Recipe Girl, Pinch My Salt, Cooking with Amy, Eating Out Loud, The Daily Spud (all the way from Dublin!), Simply...Gluten Free, Wild Yeast, Plumpest Peach, The Well-Tempered Chocolatier, My Last Bite, Passion 4 Eating and several other fellow attendees.

Wow! This was going to be fun!

The cocktail party was a low-key, laid back affair, which I think was meant to be a kind of ice-breaker for the attendees. (Believe me, by the time I had gasped, clawed and limped my way up the four fights of stairs to the party room with these guys, the ice was definitely broken!)

Once inside, I encountered a sea of smiling, friendly food bloggers and vendors with.....NO NAME TAGS!!! That meant if you didn't have a photo of yourself on your blog, no one knew who you were. So, in between sampling the lovely assortment of Northstar Wines, sipping the rich and robust coffee from Caffe Vita, nibbling on Theo Chocolates' fine chocolates, slurping oysters from Taylor Shell Fish and munching on the delicious appetizers provided by Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar, we all walked around quizzically staring at each other and saying,

"Hi! Who are you?".

It was hilarious to watch! Navigating my way through the crowd, I got to meet Hedonia, Bring to Boil, Orangette, Discover the word of Artisan Beef, Phoo-D, Seattle Tall Poppy, Simply Recipes and Steamy Kitchen. (I've actually met Steamy Kitchen many times before as we live less than ten miles away from each other. But, it was great to see her again anyway!)


Our special guest of the night was Renée Behnke, president emeritus of Sur la Table. Renée spent some time chatting with the crowd and graciously gave everyone there an autographed copy of her new cookbook, Memorable Recipes To Share with Family and Friends. It's a beautiful book and I'm looking forward to recreating some of her lovely dishes!

Picnik collage-Sanctuary

Bright and early the next morning, we all convened at the conference venue, the lovely and elegant Sanctuary at Admiral. I have to say, it was a little intimidating. I kind of felt like it was the first day of junior high school and as I walked inside, I started asking myself all kinds of ridiculous questions, such as:

"Does my hair look okay?"

"Are my jeans too long/short?"

"What if I say something totally stupid?" (Oh, please God, don't let me say something totally stupid!)

"What if a) everyone hates me; b) everyone things I'm a nerd; or c) everyone hates me AND thinks I'm a nerd?!?!"

I know, I know....not very appropriate thoughts for a grown woman to be thinking, but.....still.....

I needn't have worried, though. Everyone I met was just as nice as could be. We all milled around, chatting each other up as though we'd known each other forever!

We were greeted by steaming hot coffee and a lavish breakfast pastry buffet courtesy of Stumptown Coffee and Bakery Nouveau. There were rich and buttery croissants, chewy, nutty breads and crusty baguettes. Honestly, the almond croissant that I had positively shattered when I bit into it! It was as good, if not better, than any I had in Paris!

Picnik collage-breakfast-1

Once we had all loaded up on coffee and delicious pastries (except Simply...Gluten Free, who couldn't eat the pastries), it was time to get down to business.

Instead of giving you a blow by blow narrative of each and every session, I'm going to give you the highlights and direct you to the IFBC web site. The Foodista crew has done a marvelous job of recording each session and is making podcasts of them available so that all of you can glean the same knowledge and great advice for yourselves. Besides, If I tried to include everything here, this post would be endless!


Here's Molly from Orangette and Jaden from Steamy Kitchen with Kirsty Melville from Andrews McMeel Publishing talking about the "ins and outs" of getting a book deal from your blog, including how to write a book proposal. You can't see her, but Amy from Cooking with Amy was also there as the moderator.

Next, was a very interesting session called "Finding Your Voice", which was all about settling on your blog niche, keeping your writing fresh, relevant and unique and building a rapport with your audience. James Beard Journalism Award Winner, Rebekah Denn, CEO/Founder of Women & Wine, Julie Brosterman and Kathleen Flinn, author of “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry”, were our able panelists for this one.

A fabulous gourmet lunch was provided by Kerry Sears from Four Seasons ART Restaurant, Brian Cartenuto from Cantinetta, Jonathan Hunt from Boom Noodle, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese, Theo Chocolate and DRY Soda. While every dish was incredibly delicious, my favorites were those amazing little Bomboloni! Bomboloni are small, round and dreamily soft pillows of fried dough, usually filled with cream or jam, and dusted with sugar. These were filled with an amazing orange-scented pastry cream. Heaven!

Picnik collage-lunch-1

After that feast, what I really needed was a nice, long nap, but instead we were treated to informative sessions on food styling and building blog traffic. Two adorable representatives from Picnik were there to tell us all about the photo editing site, and I have to say, I was really impressed! I'd used Picnik in my early blogging days, but kind of forgot about it after I got Photoshop. Since then, a ton of great new features have been added that are fun and very easy to use. In fact, almost all of the pictures and collages on my Seattle posts were edited using Picnik. I love Picnik!

Picnik Girls

The next stop on this great Seattle adventure was the Words & Wine event with special guest, Ruth Reichl. Ruth certainly needs no introduction to anyone involved in the world of food, but for anyone who isn't already familiar with her, she was the restaurant critic for the New York Times for many years before graduating to be the editor of Gourmet Magazine. Ruth is also a best-selling author and the recipient of four James Beard Awards. She is a legend and an icon, and after having the opportunity to chat with her at this event, I can also say a very charming and lovely woman! I am so thrilled to have met her!


After a delightful evening of "words and wine" with Ruth Reichl, we each received an autographed copy of her newest book, "Not Becoming My Mother", (woo hoo!) and went on our merry way.

Believe it or not, by that time I was actually hungry again! And fortunately, so were many of my new blogger friends. A group of us decided to have a nice dinner at Chef Tom Douglas' signature restaurant, Lola. We had a great time chatting, laughing and eating sensational food!


Here we are mugging for the camera! From left to right are: Passion 4 Eating, The Well-Tempered Chocolatier, The Daily Spud, MOI, Recipe Girl, Wild Yeast, Plumpest Peach, Simply...Gluten Free and Brownies for Dinner.

Later, as I climbed into bed and pulled the covers over my head, I reflected on yet another awesome day of my great Seattle adventure. I had made so many new friends, learned so much and had such a great time doing it. And, there was still one more day left to go! I'm pretty sure I drifted off to sleep that night with a smile on my face.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of My Great Seattle Adventure, coming soon!

BTW, to enjoy lots more excellent photos of the IFBC, check out Sheri's post on the Foodista blog and the Foodistablog page on Flickr.


Peabody said…
Ugh. I am so bummed I couldn't go. I mean, it was in my city!!! Looks like much fun.
Sarah said…
Sounds like the conference was a lot of fun & I'm glad you enjoyed my home town! I'm drooling over those Bombolini you describe....mmmmm!
Wow how a funny event… I'm so far to go here in the south.
No doubt that the food level was absolutely scrumptious :)


Cathy said…
Looks like you had a great time!
Great job on the post - so much good info. I'm having fun following all the links.
Great post about a great weekend, Susan! And I think your thoughts about your jeans being too long or too short are exactly what we were all thinking. :)
Thanks for the great post! What an awesome weekend! I'm jealous ;-P!


Ingrid_3Bs said…
Sounds like a fabulous but informative time was had by all! Thanks for sharing and don't take so long to post part three! :O Just kidding! :)
Snooky doodle said…
wow that surely must have been fun ! :) lucky you!
What an amazing experience Susan to meet all these talented bloggers and industry personalities. So much fun!!
SteamyKitchen said…
it was so good to see you...even if we had to do it thousands of miles away!!
Heather S-G said…
This is so incredibly cool! What an amazing time...thank you for writing about it so that we all could be jealo...I mean, so we could feel like we were there!! love it :)
Manggy said…
Susan, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a nerd ;) And anyone who hates you is probably a hateful person. Gosh, I'm totally being an after-school special here! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience-- wish I could've been there! I love the pic with you and the "gang"-- and I'm totally being the masculinist here, but where are the guys?! Ha ha ha. :)
Anonymous said…
What a fun and education event! Wish I was able to go!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Thanks, everyone! I'm so glad you're enjoying my reports on Seattle. I wish you all could have been there too!

Peabody- I was hoping you'd make an appearance. Would have loved to have met you! Hopefully, next year. :)

Susan/Wild Yeast- Lol! Glad to hear that!

Manggy- Aw! You're so sweet, Mark. Trust me, there were plenty of guys there too. I was just too busy socializing instead of taking pictures.
Debbie said…
Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I would love to meet some of my fellow bloggers. That would be so much fun!!
Elyse said…
Looks like such an amazing time! I love that there were no name tags--definitely a reminder to keep a current picture on your blog :) It looks like you had a wonderful time and made some wonderful friends. Plus, the sessions/presentations sound informative and oh-so interesting!
Phoo-D said…
It was wonderful to meet you Susan! I was thinking many of the same things when we all waited for that bus...but everyone was more than kind.
foodcreate said…
Looks like you had a wonderful time in Seattle what great Adventure.
Thanks for sharing:)

And you can visit me if I can visit you:)

Tangled Noodle said…
What a great snapshot of a fantastic experience! Like others here, I wish I could've been there, too. Thank you for the IFBC link - I look forward to listening to the podcasts. I'm so happy that you had a great time and I look forward to part III!
Katrina said…
How fun! Makes me really excited for the Food BlogHer conference I'm going to in Sept.!
Elise said…
Hi Susan,
What a great write-up! I so enjoyed finally meeting you in person after all this time. I do think that the IFBC conference was one of the best conferences I have attended in recent memory, I learned something from every session. And it was so wonderful to finally put some faces to people's names and blogs. I do hope it isn't too long before we get this opportunity again.
sounds like an interesting, informing, delicious and all-around fabulous time! also a great networking opportunity. crazy spud came from ireland!! i'm smelling an area to expand the market to over there!
I enjoyed every word, Susan. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us. :)
Anonymous said…
It sounds like a great time! I wish I could have went, but it wasn't in the cards this week.
Lucy said…
A bit jealous? Me? No! VERY jealous? ME? TOTALLY! Looks and sounds like you had an awesom time! Perhaps if it comes to the UK one day..when I'm older...ah we can dream :)
Lucy said…
A bit jealous? Me? No! VERY jealous? ME? TOTALLY! Looks and sounds like you had an awesom time! Perhaps if it comes to the UK one day..when I'm older...ah we can dream :)
Lucy said…
A bit jealous? Me? No! VERY jealous? ME? TOTALLY! Looks and sounds like you had an awesom time! Perhaps if it comes to the UK one day..when I'm older...ah we can dream :)
Cakelaw said…
Looks like you had a fabulous time - and what fun to meet so many other bloggers!
Unknown said…
Love both this and your first post on Seattle :)
Daily Spud said…
Ah, so lovely to re-live it again through your post. I still think - did that really happen? wow! And love the pic from our dinner - the smiling faces say it all :)
Lys said…
I'm adoring these recaps of IFBC. I couldn't go this year but if there is one next year, I'm so there. It looks like you all had a great time. Foodista rocked by putting it online too so I was able to attend virtually for a couple panels.

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