The Big Summer Potluck Retreat Recap

Dancing to a live bluegrass band playing into the evening, sipping ice cold rosé while a thunderstorm raged on three sides of a covered patio, laughing with the HomeFries girls – these are just a few of the moments my memory keeps returning to from last weekend’s retreat.

Today I don’t have food photos, cooking tips, or a recipe to share, but rather a brief glimpse into The Big Summer Potluck, an event I recently attended with Clara in rural Pennsylvania.

I believe last year I established that this gathering was decidedly not a conference. I’ve been to a few now, and The Big Potluck is vastly different, swapping dark hotel corridors for open fields, sponsors’ halls for a picturesque barn, and a hurried agenda for a relaxed, poignant event.

This year boasted an inspiring line-up of sessions with food writers such as Molly O’Neill and established recipe developers like Pam Anderson and Joy the Baker. Taking care of Clara kept me on the fringe of the workshops and demos, but I still gleaned plenty of gems, both from the bits that I heard and the conversations that ensued afterward.

Organizers Pam, Maggy and Erika, deserve high praise for their efforts in making this event happen. Thanks to them, we were able to extract ourselves from daily life – in the city, country and burbs – to gather in the beautiful Pennsylvanian countryside.

It was here that conversations were sparked that both encouraged and motivated. Joy the Baker’s Real Blog Talk had us rolling with laughter and blinking back tears at the same time. And then the dark clouds blew in and we dashed for cover, the rain droplets cooling us just as the open, honest discussion had refreshed us moments before.

Although the setting is important, it is the people who really make the weekend special. I felt like I was returning to family, as many of the faces above are good friends. This year there were plenty of new attendees whom I am now honored to call friends.

Big Summer Potluck truly was about community, connecting and conversation.

I so appreciated the many hands that reached out to Clara and helped me get through the weekend. A little one keeps you busy, but there was always someone willing to cuddle her while I ate or got caught up with a friend. Thank you Maggy, Erika, Shaina, Pam, Stacie, Chris, Amber, Jamie, Gaby, Jen, Debbie, and all the rest!

Clara was indeed a trooper, always happy and taking her naps right on cue. On Saturday evening a live bluegrass band lulled her to sleep on the grass, and she slept for a good hour on her quilt.

Main photo by Brian

The babies of TBP may have stolen the show just a tad. The two girls below are just five days apart and are both named Clara! I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Courtney, her husband Eric, and their baby. Our sweet girls had fun drooling on each other’s toys, posing for photos with mom, and rolling around on the quilt.

Photo by Courtney

Other highlights were Marisa’s animated jam demo, Brooke’s most inspiring talk on mindfulness in a digital age (catch the gist of it here), and the waffle breakfast on Sunday morning hosted by Kitchen Aid USA. I even won one of these most amazing Waffle Bakers. Thank you, Kitchen Aid!

Even the after party back at the hotel was memorable, but those details are better left alone..!

Food blogging conferences are a dime a dozen, but this weekend retreat offers something refreshing and completely unique. I knew it would be the one food blogging conference I would attend this year, and it was worth the flights, yes, even the delays.

Until next year…

Psst, Check out The Big Potluck on Flickr for scads of beautiful photos from the event.

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.

Subscribe For Free!

Like reading this post?
Get more delivered to your email inbox.


  1. Your photos are fantastic! I wish I could have gone. Maybe next year. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jan @ Family Bites says

    I’m SO glad that you had a great time, and SO sad that I had to miss it. There’s always next year though, right?

    • Yep, it’s never too early to plan for next year. I’d love to bring Danny next summer; there were plenty of guys in the mix.
      We missed you! You’d totally fit right in – and we need more Canadians to represent. =)

  3. Loved seeing you. Loved meeting Clara. See you soon, friend.

  4. Looks so fun – so glad you could take Clara along!

  5. Your writing perfectly captures all the feelings and surroundings of the weekend.
    I am so thankful that we got to meet and hope to see you (and Clara!) again next year.

  6. It sounds like such an amazing weekend, Aimee. Maggy, Pam and Erika have truly generous spirits and are some of my favorite people in the blogging world. I am determined to get to Big Summer Potluck sometime.

  7. hahaha!! I had something else to say, but I’m distracted by your mention of the after party. I’m still laughing. anyways, you are so wonderful and hope one day we can get together with our little ones. Oh how I would just love that.

  8. Emily @ Random Recycling says

    As I sit in the midst of a conference with 5000 women, BSP sounds so refreshing. It’s inspiring to see all your support for bringing Clara along.
    Maybe next year!

  9. Loved seeing you and that sweet babe. I couldn’t ask for better roommates.

  10. It sounds like BSP was every bit as lovely as it always is! I’m only sad that I didn’t get to be there and spend time with you and all the other lovely attendees. Perhaps next year!

  11. Lovely recap Aimee! It was wonderful to see you, as always, and Clara is a doll 🙂

  12. Love this recap, Aimee. Clara was totally the life of the party! 🙂 I think the fact that so many babies were in attendance is a sign of how special BSP really is… it totally feels like a gathering of friends, rather than a big impersonal conference.
    I enjoyed meeting you (albeit briefly!). Hopefully we get a chance to chat more next year at BSP4!

  13. Darlita Carlo says

    I just found you online. Great food blog and great links to other food blogs! But I am curious, I am very very new to cooking and food blogging in general, so imagine my surprise when I saw this “Food blogging conferences are a dime a dozen”. What? They are?! I never even imagined those words together in the same sentence. Where and which ones are your favorite? Can you recommend a top three? Has anyone done a review on these conferences? I have and live on a fixed limited income at this time and if I go to one I need to make sure it is worth it. Really worth it. Keep in mind I am a super novice cooker.

Speak Your Mind