Food and Wine Conference

Disclaimer: I received a full conference pass to the Food and Wine Conference in exchange for live tweeting throughout the conference and my honest review.  The opinions shared are my own.

While the kids were home this summer, I found it difficult to juggle blogging obligations and writing reviews while entertaining them.  There is just only so much time in the day!  Having said that, I wanted to tell you about this tasty conference I attended in July.

The inaugural Food and Wine Conference provided an opportunity to connect with some truly amazing, talented foodie bloggers, celebrity chefs and media personalities that can only happen under the direction of the talented Isabel Laessig, also known as Isabel Foodie, the creative genius behind Sunday Suppers.

The first time I met Isabel at the Dunedin Dish Crawl, I instantly felt a kindred spirit connection to her.  Having seen the number of attendees at Food and Wine Conference who adore Isabel, that feeling and adoration is shared among many.

The Rosen Shingle Creek served as the smorgasbord to this conference that dabbled in a culinary delight and the perfect setting for a conference focused on food.  Upon my arrival, a welcome gift of fine chocolates greeted me in my room which set the tone for a luxurious experience of the Food and Wine Conference.

Heavy traffic on 1-4 due to horrid thunderstorms caused me to miss the reception and Opening Greeting on Friday night.  From the Instagram photos and tweets, I could tell I had missed an amazing evening and speaker, Mr. Rosen himself.  Thankfully, I had my chocolates to comfort me.

With an early start on Saturday morning, I skipped out on a run along the trail and indulged on the breakfast buffet at the Osceola Café, another example that my stomach would be stuffed as much as my brain at this conference.

After breakfast, I headed to the conference center where I found my swag bag waiting for me and full of amazing foodie items, including coupons and Desserts in Jars.

The first session, The Zen of Blogging, featured Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen who spoke on authenticity and passion, the underlining theme of the Food and Wine Conference.

The one room blab school setting strategically placed speakers next to peons, like me.  I recognized a few familiar faces and blogging friends, but honestly I had no idea who sat beside me at times.  Once the next session began, I would realize that an expert in the field was sitting right next to me, which also demonstrates how valuable each of us is to Isabel.  We all have some valuable information to share or some morsel of social media expertise to offer.

In Writing that Get Noticed by The Media, local media celebrities and accomplished journalists shared their tips to make media work for your brand or project.  Tapping into the connections each of us makes along the way plays a critical role.  Again, the importance of authenticity, passion and professionalism came into play.

Though social media and traditional media dominated the morning, at lunch we were reminded once again of our presence at a conference revolving around food.  I tried my best to eat vegetarian and low bad carbs, but I couldn’t resist the desserts.

Following lunch, one panel discussed Working with PR Agencies, a topic I found very interesting and directly related to the Tampa Bay Bloggers and my role as liaison for the bloggers.

The Art of Marketing and Networking for Small Business shared ways to promote your brand and Social Media Marketing Practices spoke on using social media to maximize your brand.  Admittedly, I often fall short on using social media to its maximum potential but now I know distinct, effective ways to use each social media platform to its fullest potential.  I still need to work on my Google+ presence, but I learned some great tips to use Google+ and Pinterest more effectively.  (Watch for a TBB Pinterest party soon!)

Once our brains were full of tasty social media tips and passion, we had more to engorge and learn at our #SundaySupper Cal-Italian: A Family Style Feast Paired with California Wine.

Michael Green of Gourmet Magazine shared with us the six ways to properly taste wine: see, swirl, sniff, sip, swish and savor.  He also enlightened us in the art of wine selection by explaining that a good wine isn’t always the most expensive.

Much like most of the day, dinner was truly amazing.  From the main course to the desserts to the fine wines to the hand-crafted chocolate centerpieces, every bit was a treat.

The next day, I hitched a ride provided by Fields Auto Group to the cooking demonstration at Rosen College of Hospitality next door.  Honestly, I could have walked but I couldn’t resist the ride.

Although Sara Moulton was meant to share The Perfect Cooking Demonstration, Katie Workman of The Mom 100 filled in last minute when Sara’s mom became suddenly ill and she had to fly home.  Mr. Spuds (provided by Idaho potatoes) photobombed the cooking demonstration but I still learned proper technique and tips, if ever I score a cooking segment on the local news or the Today Show.  You never know.

Funny thing, if you tweeted photos of Mr. Spuds during the conference, you were entered in a drawing to win potatoes.  Can you guess what showed up at my door this week?  I guess I did learn how to use social media to its fullest at the Food and Wine Conference after all.

After the cooking demonstration, a panel discussed the benefits of Launching a Successful Kickstarter Campaign and other fundraising outlets to raise monies for projects.  I listened intently as creative juices began flowing in my brain with possibilities to fund a variety of business ventures I’ve been scheming for some time.

During The World Through Your Lens, I learned some useful tips to make my foodie photos even better.  Little changes like make-up sponges for added height and textured paper for interesting backdrops can make a huge difference in food photo composition.

Lunch featured Chef Fabrizio Giorgi of Café Sapori with a tasting and cooking demonstration by Colavita Olive Oil.  Aromatic tomatoes and leeks filled the room.  After all the non-stop snacking and delicious full course meals, it’s hard to believe our stomachs still growled over the gorgeous lunch prepared by Chef Fabrizio.

A wonderful chocolate mousse dessert was provided by Desserts in Jars and Wish Farms.

After lunch, my brain and stomach had their fill and though Family Foodie Isabel hosted a stellar conference, I needed to head home.  The Food and Wine Conference was a conference like no other professional conference I have ever experienced and I can’t thank Isabel enough for the opportunity to attend.  I also can’t wait to sample next year’s conference.

But next year, I will happily step up to lead 5K run to help burn all those tasty calories and provide yet another opportunity to connect with talented foodie (and runner) bloggers.


  1. Crystal H says:

    I wanted to go to this SO bad. I hope next year it isn’t on Hubby’s bday weekend like it was this year. July is busy.

    ps- dang it! I am hungry now. 😛

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