27 things I learned at my first food-blogging conference.

  1. If you realize the day before you pack for the conference that you only have two suitcase sizes — a smallish duffle and a suitcase normally used for packing your entire family for a week — make a TJMaxx-run to get a cheap mid-sized carry-on. “All the swag” can fit into your computer bag. And if it can’t, it’s not worth bringing home.
  2. When you read tweets that talk about saving room in your bag for “all the swag,” keep in mind that “room” and “all” are relative terms.
  3. Be prepared for the fact that being dropped off at the airport alone, for the first time in years, can be a bizarre, panic-inducing experience. Have a list of mantras ready to repeat to yourself, things like “stop looking for your children,” and “no, the guy at curbside check-in will most likely not intentionally lose your bag because you forgot to tip him.”
  4. Remember to never again use curbside check-in.
  5. Be thankful that your husband is amused, not annoyed, when you call him “just to talk” 10 minutes after he drops you off at the airport.
  6. Contain your disappointment when the food served at the food blogging conference is less than stellar.
  7. When mid-morning hits on the first day, and you are crashing from your breakfast of a soggy croissant and over-salted bacon, already over-stimulated by all the extroversion, realize it’s probably best to take a breather and find some protein before handling a sharp knife in front of a video camera.
  8. When being prepped to film your video of “How to Cut a Mango,” observe that the knives on set are much sharper than your neglected knives at home.
  9. Try not to utterly die of embarrassment when you cut yourself on set of the Mango Video. Be reassured when they tell you about “the magic of editing.”
  10. Be prepared for a moment when you offer your business card to someone and they don’t reach out to take it.
  11. Even still, keep offering your card to people. The vast majority will accept it with a handshake and a smile.
  12. Don’t be afraid to skip the late-night dinner run with all those fun people and hit the sack at 11pm.
  13. Be thankful for Tylenol PM.
  14. Next morning, be thankful for caffeine.
  15. Keep in mind that the madness only lasts 48 hours.
  16. Don’t be surprised when you actually learn things in your sessions.
  17. Avoid coveting every iPad you see.
  18. When you are no longer able to control yourself, and finally walk up to David Lebovitz and say, “I’m a really big fan,” don’t be surprised when he awkwardly looks down at his shoes as if to say, “Really? That’s the best you could come up with?”
  19. Try not to focus on the absurdity of a scene where you are standing next to David Lebovitz at the Bay’s English Muffins booth feeling conspicuously gluttonous as you wait for your feta-and-jam-topped muffin while David requests “only butter” to let “the flavor of the muffin” shine through.
  20. Remember that no one cares what you eat on your english muffin.
  21. Take and enjoy every opportunity to have a conversation with a new person.
  22. Buy the hotdog from the street food vendor at the Sweet Auburn Market, even though you’re not hungry. One bite will be worth the price.
  23. Submit to hugging people that you’ve only previously known online.
  24. Go to the party on the last night of the conference.
  25. When you see David Leite, of Leite’s Culinaria, dancing to Blondie like a man moved by external forces, put down your plate of food and join in. The opportunity will not likely present itself again.
  26. Listen.
  27. Don’t take it too seriously. At the end of the day, we all just write about food.

29 thoughts on “27 things I learned at my first food-blogging conference.

  1. Hi Katy – Gosh I already miss you! You always bring a smile to my face. Love #7 and #27 and several others in between. As for the swag volume, if you had been there last October, you would have brought the suitcase for your whole family and filled it up. I brought too big a bag this time based on previous experience. Who knew. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face at the conference and through this post. Hope we cross paths in person again and stay in touch on line. Fun post!

    1. Beth!! Thank you, and I do hope we stay in touch online, and (hopefully? maybe?) get to run into each other again. It already seems like another world I was in for a few days, now that I’m back home surrounded by tiny fingernails that need trimming (does Daddy just not see them?) and all the various piles of laundry. But I slept like a log last night ; )

  2. Love. Love. Love. Your post. Funny, witty and poignant. Had to laugh about your encounter with DL. Here’s mine — I introduced myself to him as I took the chair next him at a morning session (sans enough coffee), smiled and said in my best extroverted voice “…and you are…” as I looked over to make eye contact with David Lebovitz! Oy. Perhaps the shy me should attend more conferences!!! LOL.

    1. How funny! He might have actually been relieved that you hadn’t calculated the seating arrangement, not realizing who he was…

  3. Enjoyed this post. Not one for big crowds or as you described it “extrovertism” I’ve made my living in sales for a long time, and I can just do without all the hub-bub. But you made it sound like fun, and certainly made me laugh on this rain soaked morning!

  4. BULLSEYE!!! every. single. point. is dead-on!! but now i find myself slightly embarrassed that i hugged you upon meeting you for the first time . . . sorry and am making a mental note for the next conference i attend, that not everyone i tweet with wants a hug . . . oh, and David Leite? he’s a friend and he’s fabulous – DEFINITELY should put down your plate and dance w/him!!!

    1. Debra, definitely do NOT be embarrassed. It wasn’t uncomfortable for me, and in fact I rather enjoyed the realization that we do feel like we end up knowing people enough to hug them — it’s part of this whacky world in which we participate daily.

  5. Ha ha ha! The more I know you, the more I wonder if we were twins separated at birth. All my extroverted strengths shrivel up to nothing in situations like you describe. I’ve shuddered every time I hear Emily talk about those conferences….

  6. I am seriously so glad I met you. And after reading this list I only wish I had gotten to know you better. I think we have a lot in common – I can relate to so much of this! 🙂 I call my husband every time I get through security, even though he dropped me off 10 minutes previous. He doesn’t understand, but he humors me. Oh and I definitely ate my bay’s muffin smothered in nutella. plus, I wish I had skipped the late night dinner with fun people to sleep! I like you 🙂

    1. thanks, Megan! Next conference, we can instill an “early-to-bed-early-to-rise” policy ; )

      and the english muffin with feta and jam was excellent. in the end, no regrets.

  7. I had such a treat meeting you last weekend and getting to know you some. It’s also a treat to now be familiar with your blog! I’ve been doing some browsing here the last few days I love your perspective and voice. This recap is fantastic!

    1. thanks Annalise! It’s been fun, over the past couple of days, to read the blogs of people I got to know — strange, in a way, to read a blog after you meet someone.

      And I will never think of you, Melissa, et. al, without also thinking of karaoke ; )

  8. Katy,
    I love this and I really loved meeting you- it was truly one of the highlights of the conference for me. You are beautiful both inside and out and I really enjoyed spending some time with you 🙂

    1. Winnie, I am so glad we were able to meet — and I can only hope that next time our paths cross we can have longer conversations. Maybe someday at a smaller conference ; )

  9. It was great meeting you last weekend Katy and love your recap and commentary of the conference. Thank you for reminding me of the feta and jam english muffins. Those were even better than I imagined them to be!

    1. Alli, you ROCK!
      Also, I’ll be throwing all of my future nutrition-science-based questions in your general direction.

    1. See, my utter naivete in this is where I got into trouble. The thought never once occurred to me that I would cut myself. Forget how to speak English? Maybe. Cut into an under-ripe mango? Probably. But draw blood? Not once. How could I forget that as a possibility?

  10. Re: cutting yourself while slicing a mango. I remember a Thanksgiving when I cut myself preparing potatoes for boiling — such an amateur am I — and you and Tim looked at me like I had just stuck my hand down my throat, pulled out my own pancreas, and offered it to you as a gift.

    Sorry you bled in front of total strangers, but, you know, karma and stuff …. 🙂

  11. Love your spirit and this list. I remember my first lesson about #4, and #10 breaks my heart, but good for you! By the way, I love apple butter on my English muffin, especially if it’s homemade 🙂 Thanks for the Friday afternoon smile!

  12. Love this post!! Ahhh, the getting frosted by bloggers… not taking cards.. yes…
    It was so great to meet you, what a privilege to room together. Thank you for all of your kind words, and let me know if I can help you in a career in front of the camera. 😉

  13. It was a blast meeting you and getting to know you more every time we talked. Loved you with glasses, and without, in the slinky black dress:) Lovely recap! I did not have the guts to approach David Lebowitz, so I admire you:)
    I came home to long fingernails and my plants in dire need of watering (no, fathers and husbands do not see that:)
    I hope we keep in touch!

  14. Katy, it was a pleasure to meet you (briefly) in Atlanta. I’m looking forward to getting to know you through your previous blog posts and Tweets. Not only are you a delight in person, your recap post makes me want to read more. Well done!

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