Lower the iPhone and Wear a Smile: My BlogHer Food ’11 Recap

It’s not easy to get away in the spring, but last weekend Danny and I put our garden plans and yard work on hold while we jetted South to Atlanta for four days. The occasion? Our ninth wedding anniversary. The event? Blogher Food ’11.

Now, I know that’s not exactly a romantic getaway and most men would run at the thought of crashing a party of 400 or so women, but my husband is not your typical guy and we made the most of the weekend. In the mornings we scoured the city for the best coffee  (Octane (sadly now closed), if anyone is wondering), during the day he golfed with friends while I attended BHF, and in the evenings I had a hot escort to the parties. Yep, we hit ’em all.

It was the best and I can highly recommend attending these notoriously draining conferences with someone who can make you laugh, rub your tired shoulders at 5pm – and even iron your blouse in a pinch. After nine years married, Danny still does that and much more.

But this is supposed to be my BHF recap. Yes, I’m straying away from recipes today to give you a glimpse of what goes on at a food blogger’s conference. Grab your Macbook, iPhone, iPad, Canon 5D, Venti Starbucks and let’s go!

Just kidding, you don’t need any of that stuff. Just wear a smile, and don’t be shy to introduce yourself.

L-R: Kelsey, Jennifer and I.

On the eve before heading to Atlanta, I was chatting with a few friends on Skype (and avoiding packing) and they offered a few nuggets of advice on making the most of the conference. “Be yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff” were the tidbits that stuck out to me.

On that note, I decided to pack my extra thick skin, brush my smile bright, and leave my shyness at home. Here’s how I see it: if the conference is taking me away from my children, I better make the most of the event. And OK, so I’m not really that shy.

The result? I had a completely fantastic time. Did I ever feel outright snubbed? No. Overlooked? At times, yes. Invisible? Definitely. Would I go again? Absolutely.

There’s been tons of talk about cliques, snobbery, and conference anxiety, but honestly, I think what you bring to a major conference is what you take away. I introduced myself to at least thirty people (probably more), but only two or three people approached me in a similar manner.  Not a fantastic ratio.

Terrible photo, but fantastic women. L-R: Me, Olga, Faith, Kelsey, and Stacie.

The people really make the conference, to point out an obvious fact. I mean, what else would? The swag? Naw, I already have enough kitchen tools. The food? Omygosh, not this time. The ‘destination getaway’? Forget it. We were in transit for 16 hours to get home and then our luggage didn’t even make it.

Having a maid make the bed and change the towels is pretty sweet, but, let’s face it, rubbing shoulders with the rockstar attendees is an experience of a lifetime. And I mean that.

At the Sweet Auburn Curb Market with friends from The Kitchen Generation.

Just a few of the ‘pinch-me-please’ moments of the conference that I’m going to remember for a long, long time:

  • One-on-one photography tips from the super sweet Aran.
  • Meeting my very. first. blog crush ever. And chatting!
  • A hallway interception of David and not minding at all that he hates our Montreal bagels.
  • Early morning lattes with Stacie at Octane.
  • A surprise encounter with Chris. (can’t post the photo, it’s too hot.)
  • Drinks at the Ritz Carlton with Maggy.
  • Slurping oysters with the lovely ladies below at Empire State South.

Did I mention rockstars? We had an epic dinner out at Atlanta farm-to-table hotspot on Saturday night. Alice & her husband Rob, Sandy, Carrie, Amanda, Tara, Jenny, Lori, Shaina, Danny and I invaded the small-ish Empire State South and ordered half the menu. Which was heaven for a foodie like me. What? Dinner out with no kids? All the blog talk I want? Sweet!

It was super fun to hang with so many food bloggers that I respect and admire.

Anticipating dinner with Alice and Amanda.

My final tip for future conference attendees? Look up from the smart phone more often and smile at the people around you. Anything could happen after that.

Photos! Here’s the full set of BHF’11 photos on Flickr if anyone is interested…

I honestly met too many beautiful people at BHF to name them all, but I hope you know that if I shook your hand and said ‘Great to meet you!’ I truly meant it.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. It was wonderful to see so many of my friends in your photos. I wish I could have been there – maybe next time 🙂

  2. I was definitely glad I looked up at your name tag and saw that I was finally getting to meet you in person, Aimee! So glad you had a great time at the conference, so did I. 🙂

  3. So glad you had a great time – and when I read you were going to put your shyness aside I was going to say “but you aren’t shy”… but you caught it and said it for me 🙂 Hugs to you and happy anniversary!

  4. I wish I had talked to you, but there is always another time:) I had my moments of doubt and anxiety, but in the end I had a great time. I met so many wonderful people, and learned a ton about blogging (and myself) . The time was short, but I left the conference happy and empowered.

  5. So glad you had such a wonderful time Aimee!! Sounds like so much fun!

  6. Loved meeting you and Danny both finally. It was a great weekend wasn’t it?

  7. what a beautiful weekend:) I wish so badly I could have come!

  8. Wenderly says

    Sounds like a fabulous experience! Wish I could have been there to meet you IRL and give you a proper real life hug! Thanks for sharing!

  9. It was so great to meet you and your husband. Hope you had a nice anniversary! Next month is our 8th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it, time flies when you’re having fun, right?

  10. So good seeing you again and meeting your hubby! The weekend flew by but looks like you made the most of very little time – you did a bunch! Wish I had made it to Octane. I’ve heard good things.

    Hope to see you before the year is out, maybe?

    • It was great to connect again, Amy! And I’m happy you met my other half. 🙂

      I’m at BSP2 this summer and Blissdom Canada in the fall….

  11. Thanks for sharing. I have always wondered which of the food blogger events is worthy of attending, and it sounds like this one is. Next year!

  12. Wish I could have been there! One of these days we are going to have to finally meet face to face.

  13. Aimee you are so sweet. It was a pleasure meeting you if only for a few minutes! I admire you for setting aside your shyness, it’s something I have trouble with sometimes. Something to work on, I guess! 🙂

    • I was super happy to meet, too, Lindsay, especially after we never got to connect in Nashville earlier this year. You didn’t seem shy to me!

  14. I love this – I felt the same way! I met so many bloggers (new to me and ones I’ve been reading for years) and had a great time making real, face-to-face connections.

    I’m sad I didn’t get to meet you in person! Maybe next time 🙂

  15. I’m so glad you said hi, it was fun to meet you! I wish we could have chatted more. Maybe next time? Glad you have a great weekend, so did I!

  16. I’m so happy our paths crossed again, Aimee! I always love spending time with you! What a fantastic recap on the conference. The weekend was amazing!

  17. That just should like so much fun! Glad you had a great time. I know If I ever went I’d be the one sitting all alone, so I havn’t wanted to attend one yet haha. But looks like fun

  18. Loved seeing you, and I absolutely cannot wait until July when we get to do it again. In my opinion, any travel concerns, stress associated with travel is worth it to be able to connect with people who have become such a daily part of my everyday. Love you and that oyster-slurping husband of yours. Until next time…in person at least! xoxo

  19. Beth (OMG! Yummy) says

    Three cheers for putting the iPhone down. Conferences were hard enough to navigate before cell phones and smart phones and laptops. Now we try to fit in communicating to all our followers and photographing and taking notes on every detail while we try to meet new people and learn new things. I’ve always considered myself a good multi-tasker but recent research says multi-tasking is really a misnomer. All it means is that we’re doing a bunch of things not so well. So my goal was to learn, meet new people and people that I only knew on Twitter. I think I succeeded, though there were also many stones left unturned. This conference was very different in feel than BlogHerFood10 but I still got a lot from the event. Glad you enjoyed it and will return next time. Thanks for sharing your photos and experience.

  20. Loved spending time with you and Danny. PS: We also made it to Octane Sunday morning after hearing how wonderful it was from you. We ordered Sublime doughnuts and the coffee was amazing!

    • ohmygosh, did you have their S’mores doughnut?? SO. Good. Glad you made it there!

      We loved meeting you and Rob! How perfect that we both had out hubby’s along. xox

  21. Wonderful recap and advice Aimee. I’m one who tends to sit shyly in the corner and frustrated with myself because of it. I really hope to meet you at a conference one of these times!

  22. Loved the spirit of your write up and completely agree that an experience like this is what you make it. 🙂 I invited my husband (who also irons) and he said “not this time.” Oh well. I don’t own a smart phone, so no issue with keeping an eye out for others, and reaching out– not quite at your level of 30, but still. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you there.

  23. Aww, it was so great to meet you, too. I agree with all of your tips and glad you had a great time. I hope our paths cross again soon!

  24. Sorry we didn’t run into each other, and my hubby would have loved a partner for golf-how he spent his time too. This was my first blogging conference and I’d go again. There were definitely people who looked right through you and unfortunately many of them were the big names we new bloggers look(ed) up to. On the converse, I met some amazing women and learned some helpful things for my blog, both of which cancelled out the cliqueness.

  25. Oh, forgot so give kudos to the staff for planning gluten free and vegetarian food (I’m not either but I thought it was kind of them to think of those who are)!

  26. looks like fun! any new recipes from the conference???

  27. That is cool you went to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market! My daughter has a foodie biz and she is going to start selling there soon! And I couldn’t help but see the Sweet Auburb BBQ truck in the background of one of your pics, they have the best BBQ!

  28. Aimee, it was such a pleasure to meet you (and I hope we get to see one another again, soon!). Your recap was darling, just like you. Your smile lit up the room, every time I saw you.

  29. I’d love to go to a blogging conference just so I could meet YOU! 🙂 So glad you had so much fun and were able to party it up with Danny.

  30. So interesting to read your take after reading several with a different perception. And nice to read…sounds like you and others had a great time!

  31. Was so great to meet you albeit fleetingly! How ironic that we had to go to another country to meet up. Hope our paths cross sooner rather than later..

  32. i checked the photos – they are very nice! seems like you had fun there…
    the tip that you gave us “smile at the people around you” is soooo simple and actually everybody knows it – but – no one remember to use it 😉

  33. So happy you had such a great time!

  34. Loved that you came out of your session to see me. So glad we finally met!

  35. What an awesome recap. So glad that you went up and introduced yourself to people. I feel like the conference needs more people like you, who are willing to do just that!

  36. Aimee, it was so great to meet you at BHF! You were very smart to leave the conference and go out on the town with people. We stayed with the conference events and were starving!! I have to admit, I was one of the shy ones because I had already done two conferences that month and traveled from the west coast, so I was wiped out. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see you again and chat at another conference 🙂

  37. I wish you had a nice time.Thank for sharing

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