BlogHer Food, 2012

young siblings having fun with the nose of each other

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As many or most of you know- thanks to my endlessly going on…and on…and on… about my excitement- I was headed to BlogHer Food ’12 in Seattle on June 8th and 9th. BlogHer is a huge network of writers, blogs, talent, so much to explain that I can’t really even skim the surface.. They provide the advertisements on my site and not only am I always happy with the quality of the ads, I have been extremely happy to work with a group that is about women and writers first, and provide advertisements as a secondary benefit to their members.  The events that they hold are attended by hundreds of people, talked about avidly on the interwebs and I have been wanting to go since I joined the network.

So on the way home from San Francisco, my dad and I packed up the kids and drove up the coast, through Oregon and up to Seattle.

Can you tell they were in the car a long, long time?


young siblings having fun with the nose of each other

We settled into the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, in their king suite, which was a fabulous family suite. One room was a king size bed with a tv, then the other was a sitting room with a pull-out bed.

This is my favorite picture from the entire four weeks we were gone.

two kids in the king size bed, wearing white robes and holding wine glasses

Friday morning saw the start of the conference, with a bountiful breakfast provided for you to eat while listening to the morning welcome presentation.

bountiful breakfast set up with fruits, vegetables and muffins

Diane Cu and Todd Porter of  White on Rice Couple did an amazing, tear jerking, heartfelt presentation that started out our day.

a lady wearing all white, in front of all the participants giving her talk

I didn’t take many pictures of sessions, but I did snap a quick shot in my first photography one, all about photography styles.

big screen in front of participants showing a collage of food photos

Between sessions, I would come upstairs occasionally to find treats and treasures that had been delivered to my room.

The husband absconded with most of this as soon as I brought it home.

a bag of treats delivered to the room

The food was great, the only problem was that they did run out! As this was a food conference, I consider it the ultimate faux pas! I came down for breakfast Saturday morning 10 minutes into breakfast and pickings were very scarce. I talked to a few hungry bloggers that day, more who went off site from the hotel to eat later and this seemed to be the number one complaint.

The lunch on Friday was great, however.

a plate full of food for lunch

I met Hank Shaw and proceeded to tell him he’s my foodie crush.

You just can’t take me anywhere.

I also told him he needs to get up to Canada one fall and go hunting with Kevin. How awesome would that be??!!

lady having photo with a chef

Hank’s presentation was by far the best, the most “hands on” in regards to real food demo and prep. He showed everyone how to fillet a salmon and is a witty, engaging speaker to boot. He also was paired with Jennifer Perillo who gave a great session on knife skills. Again, very engaging with the video used on the large screen instead of just someone sitting at a table talking at you.

The one complaint I did hear over and over is that the session quality wasn’t that high and I am leaning towards agreeing. Some of the sessions I attended that were labelled advanced were beginner at best, others seemed not well organized or put together.

I’d challenge organizers to step away from the “4 people sitting at a table”  panel and find ways to make it more interactive. I’m also curious what the quality control is for sessions, are they previewed in any form? Some were so very dry that I couldn’t keep my eyes open yet the topic should have been interesting, lively and fun.

When the whole reason people are there is the sessions, they should shine like stars and be raved about after the fact.

chef holding a big fish in the set up table while participants are watching him

I’m torn as to what I think of the event. On one hand I loved the two sessions that I mentioned, merely liked a few such as the one on Cook Book Photography and then really disliked a couple. The main thing I heard from the conference is that everyone comes back to visit with each other. People skip out on sessions and don’t even bother going and instead head out for lunch and shopping with their compadre. There’s another area I’m torn on, I DID meet some fabulous, fantastic people who I would love to see next year, but on the other hand I love learning my craft and everything that is involved.Can I see myself just going for the visiting if the session quality doesn’t improve?  The social part was nice – it pushed my comfort zone to go out and just meet strangers!- and the resulting invitations were fabulous. I was proud of myself for just sitting down and meeting new people, that’s not something I enjoy doing.

Oh, wait,  did I mention fabulous invitations in that last paragraph?

Posts coming soon!


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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  5. CookTheStory says

    Interesting. I was riveted during most sessions (except most keynotes and interview style things in the big room which were a bit self-congratulatory). I learned even more than last year. I found myself wishing that the audience would stop asking questions about their specific issues and thus give the panelists more time to talk about what they think is important about the issues. Having said that, I am somebody who never met a course, class or workshop she didn’t love (kindergarten through grad school and still today). So that people-in-front-of-room-talking schtick is right up my alley. I can see why others might not love it.

    Not sure what the alternative is. For food and photo sessions it’s obvious that there can be demos and active things. But for storytelling, SEO stuff, copyright, etc it’s harder to do that (those are the topics I like the most, rarely going to photo or food sessions). But if you have an idea for a topic and a way to present it that would be unique and engaging you should totally submit next year. Or encourage others with ideas to submit. I think it’s always a great idea to stir things up! Great re-cap!

    • thekitchenmagpie says

       CookTheStory It was so fabulous to meet you! I’m hoping that next year I can make it and attend the OTHER types of sessions, perhaps they are better……

  6. annedreshfield says

    Magpie, this looks like it was a wonderful trip! I love BlogHer — such a wonderful resource for all of us women online. 🙂 Welcome to the Livefyre community, and please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or feedback for us. We’d be happy to help! Looking forward to more of your posts. 

    My latest conversation: The Campfyre • Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten…FIRE!

  7. A Canadian Foodie says

    What slide show plug in did you use for the side bar? LOVE THAT. WANT IT.
    Paul Letourneau is now working on my site. I really don’t know what he is doing as he works very differently than I am used to, but he is clearly a local wordpress expert. I may need advice. I would love advice.

  8. A Canadian Foodie says

    BTW – love the new background – but miss the front page, the slide shows and the family shot at the bottom. I LOVED THAT!

    • Karlynn says

      Oh, this isn’t done yet LOL. There’s a lot more work to do. Slowly! It’s taking a while to get things back up, Mike’s working on his site too. Bah. So much trouble. I just had to get it back up and virus free. The little slider is built in, not a plug-in, Mike is trying to find the code but it seems it’s built into this theme. I want another one but I can’t get it on here.

      So much work to do!

      I thought about the Portland one, but people also were saying it was just “ok”.

  9. A Canadian Foodie says

    People would find it hard to believe, but I am the same way. Meeting new people in a strange place when I am alone is very difficult for me. I get anxiety, but I make myself do everything anyway. This is a very thought provoking post. I have read many from the past – and sadly, they ALWAYS run out of food at some point. That was a terrible problem their first conference. So, why is there not any “learning” here on that level? And, the conference price is fairly low – but the expenses are huge – and they do them yearly, correct… so sponsors may be finding this too much, and backing out. I have noticed that the “famous” blogging presenters – besides the ones you loved and mentioned – were not on the slate, and are either doing their own conferences, or don’t go anymore. My guess is, they don’t get paid enough to go. I would be devastated if I organized any conference and heard people say – oh – well – half of the fun is to merge together for the conference, and then take off with new people I meet to do something better (because the conference people just can’t do it good enough)
    insightful. I was eyeing Foodista’s in Portland in August – be there is no one presenting I want to see.

  10. Tanis P says

    Invitations?!?!?! Oh now you must tell!! 🙂 Love the pics of the kids…apparently they enjoyed themselves. Can’t say that I blame them. Next time, I aim to take on the adopted child role and hitch a ride.

    It’s too bad the presentations weren’t as good as you’d hoped. With the talent that takes part, I’d have thought it’d be a top notch convention.

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