BlogHer Food 2013 Recap via Katie's Cucina

This past weekend I traveled to Austin, Texas to attend BlogHer Food! This is a conference that has been long in the making for me! Rather than bore you with tons of writing I’ll share some of my photos from my trip. All of which were taken on my iPhone. I brought my DSLR camera with me and did not use it once during my 4-day trip. Proving once again, that I don’t need to bring my DSLR to everything.

BlogHer Food 2013 Recap via Katie's Cucina

After I got off the plane, I jetted to lunch followed by a Spa Party hosted by Dixie Crystals/Imperial Sugar at the Hiatus Spa. The above picture was taken right after Caroline and I changed into our robes! She is seriously my new good friend. We hung out most of the weekend together! I think every trip should start off with a spa day!


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Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

2 weekends ago I had the opportunity to attend my 3rd Food Blog Forum! Once again Walt Disney World hosted Food Blog Forum and wowed over 100 food bloggers with all of their magic. I wanted my recap out last week, but it just never happened and Food Blog Forum reassured me that life goes on even if you can’t get a blog post out every day. I also learned that I have to slow down. Life is to short to be running at thousand miles per minute. So I’m going to give you a different recap on Food Blog Forum this year. This recap will mainly be in pictures and I created a short video to help document the weekend!

I have to thank my good friend Julius for reminding me on Friday night about video. How is it that I always forget to create videos yet I am always wanting to make video content?

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

Amy from The Nifty Foodie,  Alicia of Alicia Carlson Photography,  and my husband and I spent Friday evening at Splitsville and then made a mad dash to The Magic Kingdom. Amy, my husband, and I rode Splash Mountain right before the park closed, and then as we walked out of the park caught the Electrical Light Parade. I haven’t seen that in years so it was a nice way to finish the evening!

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

The next morning it was time to learn, to reconnect, and remind ourselves what our goals are for our blogs! After listening to Jaden, Scott, and her boys talk about their life and how blogging has grown from a hobby to a business. They also reminded us to be authentic. This is something we hear a lot as food bloggers or bloggers in general. Be true to yourself.  Do that things that make you happy! Another big thing I took away from Jaden’s talk was to hire help. You can do more if you have the help to free up your time. I am running myself into the ground working a full time job, and maintaing two blogs. So I took Jaden’s advice and have recently hired help… and am slowly starting to find more time to create and of course spend time with those I love!

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

Next up, Todd & Diane. If you ever have a chance to listen to Todd & Diane speak… go! Run right away… they are the most inspirational and amazing couple I know. Their words and photographs can bring a room to tears. There videos… ahhh the amazing videos the two of them produce. I only dream to once day produce beautiful videos like the two of them do. It’s something I’m continuously trying to work on.

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

We can’t forget SWAG! Amazing sponsors like KitchenAidOXO,  Florida Dairy Farmers, Le Creuset, and so many more!

And of course we can’t forget to thank  Walt Disney World Resorts! I mean everyone went above and beyond for us!

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

Lunch was fanstastic. And as you might have seen in the video we had tons of amazing food! The menu was inspired to be gourmet food for kids–they hit it out of the ball park! I got to catch up with my friend MJ from The Merry Gourmet and I made new friends with Tricia from Once a Month Mom and Camille from A Girl, A Granny, & A Goal. It was great to talk about how we all started blogging and how our blogs evolved over the years.

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

We had a great session about technology and the ever changing blog landscape with Elise, Babette, and Eric followed by Grassroots Community building with Lindsey, David, Julie, and Jeff. Both sessions mind blowing as always and have your mind spinning in a million different directions!

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

Of course… I captured a few moments with friends new and old.

The Kitchen Prep | The Lemon Bowl | Love & Confections |  The Little Kitchen | A Spicy Perspective | Skinny Taste

Creative Kitchen | A Farm Girl Dabbles | Aggie’s Kitchen | Droolius

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

I skipped the dessert party that Saturday night to spend a much needed date night with my husband, Jon. We ventured to the Magic Kingdom without a plan (which kills me because I’m such a planner). We rode rides, indulged in a Dole Whip at 11pm during the fireworks and then rode more rides. My husband for the first time in his life rode Dumbo, the speedway, and the Goofy Barnstormer. Seriously? We live in Orlando–where has he been all his life. At least now he can check those off his list!

 

Food Blog Forum 2013 Recap via KatiesCucina.com

Brunch once again was held at Whole Foods Market Orlando. We stayed out way passed our bedtime and felt very hungover the next morning (although we did not drink an ounce of alcohol we were mainly just sleep deprived)! Whole Foods once again did a stellar job keeping our tastebuds tantalized!

Did you like this recap? Read my last two Food Blog Forum Recaps: Food Blog Forum 2011 | Food Blog Forum 2012.

Here are other recaps from Food Blog Forum 2013:


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Second Harvest Logo

Next, Saturday, September 15th I’ll be attending the second annual Central Florida Blogger Conference. One of the initiatives they have started this year is a program called “Blogging for Good“. They have partnered with six nonprofits in Central Florida in hopes that our voice as a blogger can spread the word about these organizations. Fittingly, I choose the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects and distributes donated food to more than 500 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia.

We have a huge problem in Central Florida… too many residents are going hungry on an almost daily basis. No one in our country should be going hungry–let alone the world. It kills me to waste food of any sorts in our house because I know there are so many people who would do anything to get a hot meal in front of them.

Approximately 1 in 5 of our population—732,000 people—needed food assistance in Central Florida last year. That statistic blows my mind.

Second Harvest Food Bank distributed 33 million pounds of grocery products last year that number has almost doubled since 2007 with a 75% increase!

Do you know how many meals come from 33 million pounds of grocery products? 21 million meals in just ONE YEAR people!

Watch this two minute video to see what goes on in Central Florida and how you can help.

Doesn’t this video break your heart? It breaks mine. In our unsettling economic times any of us could be affected in the matter of weeks or months by  needing this amazing services. A spouse looses a job, a severe illness, death in the family and all of a sudden you are left with difficult choices. Know that you don’t have to go hungry! There is help out their for you. Even if you aren’t in Central Florida there are food banks all across the United States wanting and willing to help! At the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida 47% of clients served are children and 33% of households served have at least one working adult. Everyone needs help every now and then–don’t be afraid to ask if you need it.

I was recently contacted by Bonefish Grill about a fundraiser, that just so happens to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida!  If you live in Central Florida and love Bonefish Grill like I do, this is another great way to help!

Date: Saturday, September 22
Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location:
6730 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando

Bonefish Grill
in Orlando celebrates their grand opening Charity Night with an evening of fabulous food, wine, spirits and fundraising with 100 percent of the evening’s proceeds to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.  A $35 donation provides 2 drinks and a full tasting of the menu.  RSVP is required as only limited amount of seats are available. Located at Bonefish Grill, 6730 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando (on Central Florida Parkway, π mile from SeaWorld entrance.) Email or call Jennifer Landress at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida at jlandress@foodbankcentralflorida.org  or (407) 295-5009, ext. 28 for more information.

If you can’t make it to Bonefish Grill and live in Central Florida you can donate money, grocery products, and/or time to help volunteer! Click here to see how you can get involved with the the Second Harvest Food Bank.

You can also enter for a chance to win one of 6 baskets. Each raffle ticket is just $10 and can be obtained here. 100% of the money raised goes directly to the nonprofit.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated or required to write this post. I did this out of my kindness of my heart because it is a charity and cause that I believe in. I will be entered for a chance to win one of these fabulous prizes.


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I attended TECHmunch in Tampa Florida yesterday, April 21st. A small and intimate food blogging conference hosted by Babette Pepaj founder of Bakespace.com and Jeff Houck Food Editor of the Tampa Tribune  and food blog; The Stew.

 Friday evening, (April 20th) was the kick-off cocktail party at the Tampa Museum of Art. Attendees had the chance to network with others for a few hours and of course munch on delectable appetizers and tempting cocktails.

Driscoll’s Berries was one of the sponsors for the conference. It just so happened that our menu was berry inspired and all berries were provided by Driscoll’s. Pictured top left was the Italian Panini Bites, pictured top right was the sign-in table, pictured bottom left was the Dirscoll’s strawberries, tomato, basil gazpacho shooter, and pictured bottom right was the Arugula, Driscoll’s strawberries bruschetta.

Babette and I toasted to TECHmunch and a new friendship with our berry cocktails!

The next morning we arrived at Roosevelt 2.0 where our conference was being held. An eclectic and intimate venue that held about 60+ of us.

We were greeted with adorable “breakfast boxes” that contained freshly made english muffins, packets of nutella and jam along with 3 biscotti’s compliments of DATZ Tampa. We also had a cold coffee bar, juice, and smoothies from Driscoll’s.

Pictured left to right: Moderated by Erik Deutsch, Todd Sturtz of Tastingtampa.com, Julius Mayo of Droolius.com, Brian Roberts of Roosevelt 2.0.

The men started off the morning talking about ways to leverage food trends in social media. My good friend Julius of Droolius.com talked about being the “go-to” source for a specific topic. In his case its the Orlando Food Truck scene. They also shared how they like to utilize trending topics on twitter and keep theirs fans updated on a daily basis on Facebook.

Pictured left to right: Moderated by Erik Deutsch, Sara O’Donnell of AverageBetty.com, Merry-Jennifer Markam of MerryGourmet.com, and Sandi McKenna of MidlifeRoadTrip.tv

These three amazing ladies shared how they Develop, Organize, and Syndicate their Multimedia Content on a daily basis. A few key takeaways from this session:

  • Prioritize your life, week, day and most importantly make YOU a priority. The world will not end if you do not get a blog post out today.
  • Write about what you enjoy to write about.
  • Quality vs quantity

Towards the end of the session I spotted the Taco Bus out front getting ready to serve hungry foodies.

Our last session before lunch was my favorite session of the day; A Down and Dirty Conversation about SEO for Food Writing. Josh Unseth did a fantastic job explaining SEO in normal every day lingo. Here is what I took away from this session:

  • Content is KING!
  • Make sure you use words that people are searching for. Go to bit.ly/googkeyword to help you assist in choosing the right words.
  • Learn to write good meta data. You can go to Schema.org/recipe to learn how to.
  • Links don’t build themselves. Find ways to have great anchor text about you. The more food bloggers that link about you–Google will know you are food blogger.
  • You need to start growing your networks. Learn Google+ and add content daily.
  • Google has a 60 page document as to what they care about on your site.

After 3 dynamic sessions all of our stomachs were grumbling. We stepped out back and was treated to the Taco Bus experience! I’ve seen them on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and was so excited to learn that we would get to try a few of their fan-favorites for lunch. I opted to try one of each style taco they were offering for lunch; tofu taco, chicken verde taco, and a shredded pork taco served with flavorful rice, and homemade refried beans. Chef Rene, pictured bottom left, was so incredibly nice and had such an amazing story of how he started Taco Bus.

While Julie from The Little Kitchen and I waited for our food we chatted with and took a picture with Denise of Creative Kitchen Adventures and Merry-Jennifer of The Merry Gourmet.

Pictured left to right: Moderated by Erik Deutsch, Laura Baddish of The Baddish Group, Ray Lampe of DRBBQ.com, Jaden Hair of SteamyKitchen.com, and Jeff Houck of Tampa Tribune.

After lunch we learned from some of the best on how to Pitch Your Brand. I always enjoying learning how the pro’s do it and how the PR agencies would like us to work with them. Here are a few take aways.

  • Build relationships via social media before ever thinking about pitching to a brand.
  • When you pitch keep it short and sweet; 3 mini paragraphs.
  • Know your worth. Don’t start working for a brand for free if later on down the road you would like to be paid by them.

Pictured left to right: Moderated by Erik Deutsch, Babette Pepaj founder of BakeSpace.com; TECHmunch; and CookbookCafe.com, Steve Wilson and Tom Setzer co-founders of Grilling Companion.

Babette, Steve, and Tom spoke about The Future of Food Content… The Digital Kitchen. This was a topic I was excited to learn more about. Babette is the founder of Cookbookcafe.com which is a website that easily allows you to publisher your own ebook and apps to allow the world to learn more about what you have to offer. You can charge per download or keep your ebook/app for free so anyone can enjoy it.

Pictured right to left: Susan Filson of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy and her peeps “Todd Sturtz of Tastingtampa.com, Julius Mayo of Droolius.com

Susan presented the last session of the day giving everyone her Top 10 Tips to Boost Your Site’s Photography. I’m constantly working on improving my food photography so I always love hearing other food photographers tips. Susan stressed how every food photographer should know how to use manual mode on their camera (something I need to play with a tad bit more). She also stressed the importance of not allowing your food props to over-shine your food. The only time the props can out shine a recipe is when you have ugly food like risotto, that needs help looking good!

We ended our day with an hour of networking, taking photos and saying our goodbyes!

Robin from Simply Southern Baking, myself, and Wanda from My Sweet Zepol.

Michelle from The Village Cook, myself, and Denise from Creative Kitchen Adventures

Julius of Droolius.com, Julie of The Little Kitchen, and myself

Julie and I took one last photo before we left for the day. Thankfully, I’ll get to see her next weekend at our Central Florida Food Blogger Bake Sale!

Disclaimer: All photos were taken on my iPhone 4s and some were manipulated using instagram.


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Last weekend I had the privilege to attend Food Blog Forum Orlando at Walt Disney World! For months I had been looking forward to this day and last Friday morning I loaded my car up with boxes of Goo Goo Clusters, OXO, King Arthur, and Le Creuset products and drove a whopping 25 minutes to Disney where Food Blog Forum was being held. I unloaded the car with the help of a bellman and checked into my gorgeous room at the Polynesian Hotel.

A spacious room awaited me, and luckily it was just a few steps from the pool. After unpacking (we were only their 2 short nights yet it felt like I packed for a month), I slipped into my swimsuit and made my way down to the pool.

That’s where I met up with Christine from Cook The Story, Carroll from Vanilla Lemonade, and Emily from Sage Recipes. As I sat poolside with these lovely ladies I sipped on a luscious Miami Vice (Half Pina Colada Half Strawberry Daiquiri). If this drink doesn’t scream “vacation” I don’t know what does.

Later that evening we made our way to the Grand Floridian where our welcome reception was being held beach side. Overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon and from a distance we could see the Magic Kingdom. We were greeted with Granberry Cosmo’s (pictured top left corner) which were much sweeter than a traditional cosmopolitan and were ridiculously easy to drink. We were passed shot glasses of a pureed vegetable soup (pictured bottom right corner) and spoonfuls of seared scallop with caviar (pictured top right corner). I had my first caviar experience that night. I didn’t like nor dislike it; therefore I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. My favorite dish of the evening was the Macaroni & Cheese bar that had toppings galore. I had not 1 but 2 servings (shhh don’t judge) of the macaroni & cheese with lobster, panko bread crumbs with shredded crab, and green english peas.

At another table close by, plump jumbo prawns awaited us. The traditional steamed, chilled variety was found that accompanied a cocktail sauce, followed by a seasoned prawn bathing in a pool of honey mustard sauce. Lastly, their was the infamous deep fried prawn accompanied with a creamy white sauce. All three were equally delicious although I like to stick with the classic.

And then it was time for dessert! Oh–their were desserts. More desserts than anyone knew what to do with. Pictured in the top left corner is one of Disney’s Chef’s preparing creme brulee. My favorite dessert of the night was the silk smooth warmed milk chocolate and caramel shot (pictured bottom right corner). I could have placed my mouth under the spicket and let the large vat of warmed milk chocolate flow into my body.  I refrained from having multiple servings although the thought crossed my mind. The cake pops were delicious and moist, and I was a bit sad I only took one… and it was for the “road” never-the-less.

Our evening was winding down and we all parted ways. A few of us chose to watch the 10:00 Magic Kingdom fireworks on the beach at the Polynesian. I mean, we did have the best seats in the house–how could we have skipped the fireworks!??!

The next morning came way too early, and these lovely swag bags awaited us. A big thanks to Goo Goo ClustersOXO, Scharffen Berger, Land O’Lakes, KitchenAid, and Bob’s Red Mill and all the other sponsors who donated to make our swag bags that much more special.

Upon picking up our swag bags we indulged in a traditional Irish Breakfast (it was St. Patrick’s Day). I had never thought to make an egg white frittata before, and I’m so glad Disney was able to introduce me to it! It was beyond amazing!

Scott Hair otherwise known as Mr. Steamy Kitchen opened up the conference. This man is an incredible speaker, and if you ever get the chance to listen to him speak you are in for a treat!

Food Photography & Styling: Sharing your food story through your creative voice:

White on Rice Couple otherwise known as Todd Porter and Diane Cu presented a very moving session that had everyone in tears by the end of the session.

“Your eyes are your lens” “your heart is your shutter” and this was definitely apparent in all of their photos. They also let us attendees in on a little secret on how to utilize your mood via light source. For the past year I’ve been intimidated and afraid of shadows, but Diane & Todd reminded us to embrace the shadows. I walked away from their session “thinking about my life recipe”.

PRspectives: 

This session was led by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Arianna from OXO, Rachel from KitchenAid, and Thomas Smith from Disney. Jaden moderated the session while prompting a variety of questions. The most important thing you must remember when working with brands is be authentic. If you can’t write about the product then you shouldn’t be working with them.

How to Write Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Posts:

The amazing David Leite shared his 12 step writing plan to us attendees. The first thing he suggested to us is purchase English Grammar for Dummies and read it cover to cover and then read it again. Oh, and another vow us food bloggers made to David was to stop using the word delicious… this is a tough one to break! He also spoke about how “enough is never enough” and his biggest criticism is that bloggers do not know how to write in first person. I want to improve my writing both personally and professionally and plan to buy the book and study it.

From Hobby to Professional: Taking your Blog to the Next Level:

Dawn Viola shared on how to turn your blog into a business.  For the non Marketing savy she shared Marketing tips and tricks along with free tools to utilize.

After Dawn’s presentation one of Disney’s head chef’s talked to us about lunch. As one large group, we made our way over to lunch. Where we had a wide variety of both savory and sweet dishes to try. We had 2 hours for lunch yet it felt like 2 minutes.

One of my favorite stations was soda floats (pictured above) and pork sliders with homemade chipotle ketchup (pictured below). First off, the soda floats were made with a Rotovap. If you don’t know what this is–go read about it. It’s basically a $10,000 machine for food chemistry of sorts. That is what made these soda floats so special!

As for the pork sliders… this was a big deal for me. 1. I’m not a huge fan of meat and definitely not pork *although bacon does not count. 2. I ate homemade chipotle ketchup. This is an even larger deal for me. You see, I hate ketchup… dislike it to the tenth degree. To me it smells of dirty feet and taste worse than it smells. I talked with the chef for a good 10 minutes about this ketchup. I had my reservations but he encouraged me to try it… so I told him to serve it how he intended the dish to be consumed and boy am I glad. After 20 years–I’ve finally had ketchup! To be honest, it tasted like a well seasoned tomato paste and multiple friends argue that I can’t proclaim I ate ketchup because their was no vinegar in it therefore I had merely a tomato sauce.

Another dish that stood out to me was the Chicken Picatta. It wasn’t so much the chicken as the actual whole wheat pasta and spinach in a white wine lemon-butter sauce that did it for me. I could have eaten a massive bowl of that pasta. Simple yet delicious flavorful.

No meal is complete without dessert. I believe their were 8 desserts and since I had one of each of the entrees I knew I needed to give each of the desserts a taste test. I loved the green tea rice pudding (pictured bottom right). It was accompanied with a biscotti cookie.  Pictured top left is what Disney was calling a Chocolate Ravioli; however, Paula from bell’ alimento put it, it’s like a chocolate oyster!

After lunch we had the opportunity to attend 4 – 30 minute sessions. Here are the sessions I attended and the 1-2 major points I took away from them.

Pitch with Jaden Hair:

-#1 rule treat your blog like a business and know your worth.

-Elevator pitch should be one sentence.

Recipe Development with Jennifer Perillo & Kelly Senyei:

-Difference between “Adapted” and “Inspired”; Adapted shows you have the least ownership of the recipe although you’ve made it your own. Inspired by shows that you’ve added more character to the recipe.

– Check your fear at the door when you are ready to begin developing “sweet” recipes. Be prepared to waste dozens of eggs and bags of flour!

Working with Brands with Arianna and Rachel:

-Be authentic

-Be sure you can integrate product with your content

Writing a Cookbook from 2 perspectives with Bakerella and Alison Lewis

-Make sure everything is clearly spelled out in your contract

-Be prepared to write 20+ page book proposal

 

After our informative round table sessions that could have easily been an hour-to-two hours long each, Jaden and Scott and Todd and Diane wrapped up our amazing day with words of motivation and encouragement!

After the conference my hubby met up with me along with Ricardo from Beer Guerrilla and his wife, Rachel, Julius of Droolius.com, Chris of Eat Local Orlando and Suzanne of KokoCooks. We all made our way of to England in the world showcase and grabbed a beer at the pub in honor of St. Patricks Day!

We capped our day off with a dessert party with spectacular seats to watch the Illuminations firework show. My favorite dessert of the evening was the bacon brittle (pictured left corner). Most of the desserts were Irish themed and full of liquor, and at that point I wasn’t in the mood for boozie desserts.

Our last event was on Sunday morning where we gathered one last time at Whole Foods Market in Orlando, Florida for a brunch. I finally had the opportunity to stop focusing on content and food and focus on taking photos with all my new and old food blogging friends.

In between taking photos with countless foodies I munched on (2 bowls) Banana Stuffed French Toast. I could have seriously bathed in the caramel maple syrup sauce that it was dredged in. I could not stop indulging in the Thompson Farms Sausage with Sweet Potatoe Tots.  I definitely ate more than I’d like to admit!

Jaden of Steamy Kitchen stopped by our table and chatted with Suzanne (KokoCooks) and I along with posing for a picture.

Top Left corner: Rachel and I.

Top Right corner: Denise from Creative Kitchen Adventures and I.

Bottom Left corner: Jessica from The Novice Chef, myself, and Tina from My Life as a Mrs.

Bottom Right corner: Julie of The Little Kitchen and I–this girl is amazing times 10 and organized EVERYTHING for the weekend.

Top Photo: Julie from Table for Two Blog, myself, Suzanne from KokoCooks, and Angie otherwise known as Bakerella!

Bottom Photo: Ricky from TastyChomps, myself and Suzanne from KokoCooks

The amazing Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen and I.

Top Left: Terri from Love & Confections and I

Top Right: Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil and I

Bottom Left: Amanda from Amanda’s Cookin’ and I

Bottom Right: Myself, Robin from Simply Southern Baking, and Jenny from Picky Palate

The amazing Todd & Diane of White on Rice Couple with me–this couple is truly inspiring.

The people that made Food Blog Forum possible; Jaden and Scott, JulieTodd and Diane and Rachel.

After a whirl-wind of a weekend I picked up my pooch, Lola. As soon as we got home I unpacked and we took the worlds longest nap together. I think this is by far the longest post I’ve ever written, but I had to be authentic and I had to be me–and I didn’t want to miss out any details! I hope you enjoyed reading my Food Blog Forum recap.


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Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the Southeast Produce Councils Southern Exposure Conference in Tampa, Florida. Some people love sweets–I love produce. I cook and eat a lot of produce each and every week, so when I was contacted to attend the conference I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

(Pictured Left to Right: Jeff Houck from The Stew, Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers, Ricky from Tasty Chomps, and Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen)

My day started early, 6:45 am on a Saturday early. I drove an hour and a half and made it to the convention center with a few minutes to spare. I attended the “How Food Bloggers are Influencing Produce Consumers and How to Create Advocates for your Brand” educational workshop where I had the chance to support 3 of my food blog friends in real life.

 

After the educational workshop our small group of food bloggers made our way to the keynote brunch where we heard the Honorable Adam H. Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture speak. He addressed many controversial issues happening not only in Florida but around the United States as far as agriculture goes. I must add he was pretty funny and down to earth kind of guy. We dined on fruit salads, chicken and a whole lot of veggies (which by the way Aggie and I eat the same exact way–glad to know I’m not the only person in the world who eats 3-4 bites of chicken) and for dessert we all choose from key lime pie or chocolate peanut butter pie. And, yes… I’m proud. I got my first press badge at this conference.

Here is a picture of all of us before the brunch started. Pictured left to right: Me, Aggie, Dawn, Ricky, Julie,  Julia, and Rod.

After brunch was over we all headed up to the convention center floor. Aggie & I both decided to pose with the cut-out mascot of the event just for good measure.

WPRawl featured their Nature’s Greens line as well as Paula Deen’s Southern Dishes line. I’m not going to lie the “Butter & Bacon Flavor Sauce for the Green Beans caught my eye. These products can be found at Super Targets in the state of Florida.

We stopped by the Modern Mushrooms Farms to check out their products.

We stopped by the Chilean Hass Avocados booth and each got to take home an avocado (which I used the next day for a delicious avocado smash dip). Did you know that the Chilean Hass Avocado is the complimentary season for fresh Avocados in the Fall and Winter?

I got to meet a few sales representatives from my favorite go-to fruit snack company, Crunch Pak. I buy a box of 8 individual packs of pre-sliced organic red apples each week. I love this brand!

Aggie, introduced me to the fine people of Duda Farm Fresh Foods. Little did I realize I had been buying their celery for years and on occasion their iceberg lettuce! They are also a local farm here in Florida.

We were also on the mission to stop by the Wholly booth for two reasons; 1. to snack on awesome dips 2. They had these amazing straw like bags. We accomplished both task and got to try their brand new fruit salsa which come to market in the next few months. Let me tell you–I was instantly dreaming up recipe ideas. I cannot wait until these hit store shelves!

I made my way over to SunnyRidge which is also another local Florida farm. I buy their berries regularly so it was nice to meet a few faces behind the brand.

One of the last vendors at the show I got to see was Makoto. By far my favorite Asian salad dressing company, and little did I know that they are located just 45 minutes from my home (and they have a restaurant. I’m sure the guys at the booth thought I was crazy because I pretty much had a rush of excitement to see them at the show! Looking back, I was probably just delirious. I got to try a few products and we all shared different recipes on ways we like to use the various salad dressings.

Here are a few more products I got to see at the show; Sweet Tango Apple Cider; unfortunately this is not sold in Florida (yet) it was amazing! Mariani Nuts had a wide variety of samples to take and try. So far I’m loving the milk chocolate almonds–I could eat bags of them. Gourmet Garden had samples of sweets that used a variety of their herb pastes. The Chili Chocolate Bites looked deceiving… these bad boys were packed with spiciness!

After a few hours of walking the conference room floor and feeling like I died and went to produce heaven my conference time was complete. Not only did I learn some new tips and tricks about produce, but I left with quite a bit of “swag” and products to try over the next few weeks.

Disclaimer: I received free entrance into this conference; however, I was not required to blog about this event nor was I compensated for writing about any of the companies above mentioned. I, like every other conference attendee, received free products to try.

 


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