Food Blog Forum Orlando 2013 – Recap Part 1

I spent last weekend at the Food Blog Forum in Walt Disney World, surrounded by 125 other talented, fun, energetic folks. I arrived at the Grand Floridian a little too late to meet up with Kasey from Kasey’s Kitchen (a fellow broadcast journalism alum from Emerson!) at Epcot, but had plenty of time to wander the resort and eventually settle down with a book on the balcony of the hotel room. I honestly don’t remember the last time I sat outside with nothing to do and just read a book… It’s one of those simple pleasures – nowhere to rush off to, no loud noise, no negativity, no distractions, and plenty of sunshine and warmth… An hour of that was exactly what I needed after weeks of non-stop work. The introvert in me really, really needed it…


Hotel Resorts at Walt Disney World

Over the past few years, I’ve really been pushing myself to attend events on my own and meet new people. I find the more I put myself in these kinds of situations, the easier it becomes. While I can’t say the welcome reception on Friday night was a breeze, the mojitos and delicious food helped quite a bit. 😉 I was also really excited to see Diane Cu and Todd Porter, as well as Julie from The Little Kitchen. I met them last May during one of Todd and Diane’s photography workshops.

Following the reception, I headed over to Splitsville in Downtown Disney. The kind folks at Disney invited myself and a few other bloggers to go bowling and try out their menu. I really liked the set up – the lanes are set up in groups of four rather than one huge, long row you typically see at bowling alleys.

Food Blog Forum

Bowling at Disney WorldWe had so much fun – it was a great opportunity to meet and get to know other bloggers attending the conference, and enjoy some nachos, fries, salads, and sushi. Yes, sushi. At a bowling alley. And it was good!

Bowling in Disney World Orlando

Where to get sushi in Disney World

Having met each other, and wanting to take full advantage of our 3-day pass to the parks, Katie, her husband Jon, Amy, and I headed over to the Magic Kingdom. While they enjoyed Splash Mountain, I discovered what all the fuss was about Dole Whip. Pineapple flavored frozen yogurt on a hot, humid day? Yes, please! We also caught the Electrical Parade.

Electrical Parade

The next day started early with helping to finish packing swag bags for conference attendees. Holy swag bag! Julie was *NOT* kidding when she said we’d need an extra bag to take stuff home in! The sponsors of this event were so generous, providing us with snacks, stainless steel water bottles and brushes to clean them, ice cream scoops, spatulas, “Got Milk?” aprons, a beautiful cheese board, and a lot more. Thank you so much to KitchenAid, OXO, Florida Dairy Farmers, Cabot Cheese, America’s Test Kitchen, and everyone else!

After breakfast and a little more networking, we all settled in to learn from a variety of speakers. Scott and Jayden Hair of Steamy Kitchen struck a chord with me right away. They spoke about redefining success and setting goals.

  • When it comes to blogging, put yourself out there – it’s about storytelling. Get specific – what changed your life? Met a new friend? Shared a meal? It’s about showing community and emotion.

Okay, this one scares me a bit. Publishing something on any form of social media is like standing on a cafeteria table and shouting it out to an enormous crowd. I have no problem doing that for brands, events, or organizations, but I hold back with my personal life. Not that I would want to share every single nitty gritty detail, but I do need to be more open in this space. It’s not just “hey, here’s the most recent client project I completed”. It’s about the who, what, where, when, and most importantly why.

  • On defining goals and success: Always start with the emotion you are trying to achieve. What will ____ give me? Power? Freedom? Opportunity? Emotion needs to be the cornerstone. Make memories. Life changes when you change focus.

I’ve been living in the same city for 15 years. I’ve been working for the same company for the past 11 years. (I’m very lucky and fortunate for that, but…11 years?! Already?!?!??) I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next this entire time. Goals have changed many times, but I’ve remained in the same place.

  • Law of Attraction: People who are always happy seem to have great things that come to them. Choose the emotional state you want to be in. We are products of our environment.

My full time job is in the news business. It’s really, really difficult to be happy all the time when 8 hours of the day is saturated by stories like the Oklahoma tornado tragedy, the Jodi Arias sentencing watch, more Boston Marathon bombing related news, and a crazy, crazy attack on a military personnel member in London. (And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on in the world today.) But that’s the nature of the industry I sought a career in. And while I try hard to block the negativity out when I’m not working, the exhaustion from so much negativity sometimes it spills over… (Any advice on this??)

Up next was a session with Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple. Since I took a workshop with them last year, this session was an excellent reinforcement of everything I learned.

White on Rice Couple

  • Look beyond the obvious – why are you sharing? What is the story?
  • Meaning of food- feeding, nourishing, sharing – what does it mean to you?
  • Be inspired by someone else’s story.
  • Take a moment to think.
  • “Your eyes are your lens, your heart is the shutter.”

Being a photographer, I can’t think of another appropriate moment to wrap this post up! Recap, part 2 – more Disney, new blogger friends, and more food – will be coming soon!

Food Blog Forum at Walt Disney World 2013

Big Group Shot!!! Photo Credit: Jennifer Holt of Walt Disney World

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