Food Blogging in the Land Down Under

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Al fresco sunset dinner the night before the conference, at the nearby Hilton.

You know what I discovered about food bloggers at Eat.Drink.Blog in Australia and at my dinner talk with food bloggers in Auckland?

They’re just like food bloggers here in the US and in Europe. They’re excited to meet each other, up their blogging skills, swap restaurant recommendations, take photos of any food in sight, and party.

When food bloggers gather: What's your blog? Oh, that's you on Twitter? I love your photos!

Even though it’s a long way from California to Adelaide, at Australia’s annual food blogging conference I felt comfortable immediately. Of course I was among those who love eating, cooking, and writing, so how could I go wrong?

I even brought up a feature in The Australian daily newspaper that ridiculed food bloggers, and no one held it against me. As one blogger told me later, her readership is higher than the newspaper’s. That’s the same trend that’s happening in the US.

But I digress. How did I line up such an incredible trip? I did nothing. My trip Down Under came about thanks to conference co-chair Amanda McInerey of Lamb’s Ears and Honey, a reader of this blog. (Christina Soong-Kroeger of The Hungry Australian was the other co-chair.) Amanda invited me to give the conference’s keynote, conduct a three-hour writing workshop the day before, and give a second workshop to artisan food producers about food bloggers. She also secured sponsors who paid my way: the South Australian Tourism Commission, and Food South Australia.

These government organizations are important not just to me but because they sponsored the entire conference. As a result, attendance was free. If that wasn’t enough, 80 delegates (attendees) were picked up and dropped off at the airport, feted at an over-the-top dinner at the nearby Hilton, served a glorious breakfast and lunch, and gifted with a goodie bag of local artisanal food products.

South Australia's biggest tourist attraction, Adelaide's Central Market.

The blogging conference took place in a modern demonstration kitchen above the 140-year old Adelaide Central Market. The day before, delegates took a tour of the 80-stall market, which includes produce stalls, cheesemongers, butchers, bakers, health food stores, coffee and tea purveyors, confectioners and restaurants. I could’ve spent a week wandering around in there, tasting the baked goods, candy, breads, and cheeses. It put other city markets I’ve visited to shame.

The conference featured talks and panels by established Australian bloggers, an award-winning chef, and an internet marketing consultant. I sat in the front row and enjoyed the quality of the discourse. My keynote focused on “Why now is a great time to be a food blogger” because of increased opportunities in writing and the growing influence of bloggers. Some people said that Australian bloggers are behind American ones, but I got no sense of that.

If you’d like to see more, watch this video by Simon Leong of Simon Food Favorites. He shows the event from start to finish in 5 minutes (Simon went to a winery tour instead of my writing workshop, but I won’t hold that against him):

For posts about the conference, lots of them are listed here, under Blog Coverage. This is a chance to read a few Australian food blogs, if you haven’t already.

Dinner talk at the Auckland tapas restaurant, Dida's Food Store. (Photo by Owen Rubin)

From Australia’s wine country, I flew to Sydney, met my husband, and flew to Auckland to meet Allison Mawer of Pease Pudding, my host for a talk to New Zealand food bloggers. Allison is also co-founder of the New Zealand Food Bloggers Association. She picked us up from the airport, drove us to the dinner, put us up at her place, fed us breakfast, and drove us to get our rental car the next morning. When I asked her why she was so generous, she answered that it was simply “the Kiwi way.”

Indeed, it must be the Australian way, the Irish and English way, the Hawaiian way, the Washington State way, and the Southern Californian way (twice — photo is here). Like others who have invited me to come teach, Amanda and Allison were warm, thoughtful, and thoroughly professional, and I can’t thank them enough. These events are the miracles that have emerged from just having a blog, and I have enjoyed the chance to travel and meet food writers everywhere.

Thanks again to everyone Down Under.

Comments

  1. says

    It was go good to meet you in Adelaide, I really enjoyed the workshop and your keynote. Glad I finally got a copy of the book too! Glad to hear the rest of your trip went well. Cheers!

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks JJ. I have your card right here on my desk. It was great to hear and read about your long, adventurous vacation in the US.

  2. says

    Glad you had such a great time in Australia – we loved having you here. And I agree with you – food blogging is wonderful, especially for all the great people we get to meet.

    • diannejacob says

      That is one of the best benefits, isn’t it? To anyone reading this who has not yet been to a blogging conference, time to attend one!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh no, am I? At least it’s not over a product. Okay let me think of something not so positive, just for balance… it’s expensive in Australia! I was not prepared. There you go.

      I was so pleased to meet you, Peter. I looked you up years ago when you were listed on that London newspaper’s list of best food blogs, and never thought we’d get to meet.

  3. says

    OK, I only disagree with one of your remarks: “I did nothing.” Dianne, you are weaving a wide, international path of folks who love food, love to cook and love to write about it. Sounds corny, but I think this is your mission as a food writer, teacher – and terrific person. So proud and happy for you. Happy Thanksgiving to my teacher, Liz

    • diannejacob says

      Oh Liz, you are too much! Thank you. I hope I can continue to “do nothing” and more people will ask me to come visit. Being at your house and getting to know you a little better was a joy. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  4. says

    It was wonderful to meet you at EDB 3 in Adelaide Dianne. Your food writing workshop and talk on Sunday were great. So happy I was able to get a signed copy of your book from you and take your workshop. Nice to hear us food bloggers are pretty much the same the world over!

    • diannejacob says

      Oh hello Catherine! I was just reading your blog post about the conference and enjoyed it. I’m glad you got a book. I was kind of surprised by how many people wanted a copy but then I realized it might be because it was so inexpensive. Books in your country are outrageously priced! I wonder why.

  5. says

    “Australian bloggers are behind American bloggers” — says who and by what measure? I’ve been hearing that same old tired comment — Australia is like America just 20 years behind — ever since I moved from Sydney to San Francisco more than 25 years ago. Anyone who spouts such nonsense doesn’t understand — or appreciate — either culture.

    That said, glad you enjoyed your travels to Oz and NZ and I look forward to hearing more specifics about the food blogs and artisans you encountered in your travels.

    • diannejacob says

      Australians were telling me that, as were New Zealanders! They don’t have as many book deals, if that’s a measure. And they also don’t have as many huge food companies (ex. Kraft) contacting them for marketing opportunities. But the food blogs themselves seemed very similar to the ones here in the US. There are some superstars and some 6-figure income makers there too, and many have written outside of their blogs for magazines, newspapers and websites.

  6. says

    Thank you Dianne, for traveling half way around the world and helping to make our conference such a success. I’m still so thrilled that I finally got to meet you and pleased that you enjoyed your time here and in NZ. I also appreciate the generosity of your husband for sparing you for a few days!

    • diannejacob says

      It was my pleasure, Amanda. I’m traveling a lot these days so he’s getting used to sparing me — and joining me whenever he can.

  7. says

    Your trip sounds great Dianne, what an exciting year! I’m watching Australian Masterchef at the moment and it’s doing such a fantastic job of promoting the food and restaurants there. Really hope to go one day soon!

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Dorcas, yes it’s been a lot of fun. I forgot to mention that the crowd was obsessed with Australian Masterchef! I’ll have to see if we can get it here in the US.

  8. says

    I love reading about your travels in the food-blogging world. It is an amazing craft to bring so many of us together from so many far-reaching places. Happy Thanksgiving –

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Liz. There are so many food blogging conferences now that it’s fairly easy to join this type of community.

  9. Howard Baldwin says

    Jeez, Dianne, you would have smacked me if I’d submitted something like this without checking it out. That blogger said her circulation was higher than the Australian’s? According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/news/the-australian-leads-the-pack-in-circulation/story-e6frg906-1226267191629), the Australian’s average daily circulation is more than 133,000 people. I believe your colleague was engaging in a bit — an Aussie-sized bit at that — of hyperbole.

      • says

        The Australian is a national newspaper as well, and it’s circulation figures reflect what you’d expect from a small country town not a country of 20+ million! I would very much believe some of the bigger Australian bloggers are getting these type of hits. Our blog is small fish and we get half that a month.

  10. says

    What a great experience for you.And how fortunate for the Aussie bloggers to have you as their keynote speaker! The fun and good times came through your sentences and made me feel like booking a flight to Australia for the next food conference they have there. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for me, I could swing by Asia on the way back. Thanks for sharing this, Dianne. It just proves what we knew all along ~ food brings the world together!

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Elizabeth. It was my first time as a keynote speaker, so I felt very lucky. I’m not sure if you can attend, to be honest. I believe the conference was open only to Australian food bloggers. Perhaps they will open it up next year.

  11. Therese FoodLogger not Blogger says

    One of the big differences between Australian and American food bloggers is that the Aussies aren’t full of turkey this week.

    • diannejacob says

      Yes it was kind of refreshing actually, and kind of overwhelming to come home to all the talk on Twitter and Facebook about cooking and eating on our special day. I think about 3 weeks ago I said on Twitter that I was already sick of seeing the word “pumpkin.”

  12. says

    You are right about the turkey Therese, and I’m a big jealous about that. We have to wait until Christmas. It was great hearing your American perspective on food blogging Dianne and watching your reactions as you walked through Adelaide Markets, enjoying the spreads. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • diannejacob says

      Hey Kerry, it was fun to walk through the market with you. All that artisan meat, yogurt, wonderful fruit, etc. We didn’t have enough time!

    • diannejacob says

      It was truly my pleasure. Apparently it takes forever for books to arrive there! In NZ, they arrived the afternoon of my dinner event. It was a bit of a nail-biter for Allison, the organizer.

  13. says

    Hello there. I am so glad you enjoyed Adelaide and beyond. 20 years ago I settled in Adelaide and it is the Central Market and the nearby Sunday Adelaide Showgrounds Farmer’s Market that keep me here. I lunch most weekdays at the market or the adjoining Chinatown. It’s a great break from the office and a real community feel. The sellers and growers get to know you! It’s a small town…We are lucky to have a climate that gives us fabulous fresh food in every season.

    I lurk around your blog and enjoy it thoroughly. Great work. Thanks!

    • diannejacob says

      You are so lucky to live and work nearby. I did not mention the adjoining Chinatown, with its glorious array of pan-Asian shops and an expansive food court. I am still thinking about my desert from the vegan stand there: a bowl of silky tofu topped with sticky black rice and coconut. It was warm, sweet, and rich, and the stand owner makes the tofu himself, every day.

  14. says

    Thanks for the shout-out, Dianne, and apologies for taking so long to respond – I am once again buried under a pile of work deadlines lol but will be in touch re your email as soon as possible.

    Thank you so much for coming to our conference, Dianne, and for being such a gracious and available speaker. I’m glad we got to spend some time together away from the conference and only wish it had been for longer.

    Next time you visit I’d love to cook you a (mild-medium) curry laksa 😉

    • diannejacob says

      Christina, it was my pleasure, and thanks for accompanying me at lunch in the Asian food court. I am still thinking about that just-made silky tofu with the black rice and coconut milk. I could’ve eaten that enormous bowl. And yes, a milder laksa would be lovely, thanks.

      I was intrigued by your recent post on Dubai and look forward to reading more.

  15. says

    This was my second Eat.Drink.Blog conference and my first trip to Adelaide in 40 years. If every large suburb and small city had a produce market like that in Adelaide we would all lead very contented lives, of that I’m certain. Dianne it was wonderful to meet you and it was a thrill to attend your workshop. I’m still pouring over my notes, practising your advice. You have become a constant resource.

    I’d like to follow-up on the ‘food blogging lags behind America’ comment. My own thoughts is that Australia has a huge food consciousness and consistently blows away preconceptions. We do consistently well, from producer to plates. However in the blogging world, where we lag behind other countries is that brands in this country have been slow to embrace the changing world of social media.

    They are still looking in terms of ROI and the $ bottom line and haven’t yet made the sorts of inroads you might see in the US for example. Brand ambassadorship for instance is a relatively new proposition and still quite elusive; I’ve no doubt this will change within the next three years, not the next twenty!

    The trick is for bloggers to equip themselves, not just as talented writers and photographers and cooks, but as brands in their own right, ready to work a business deal of their own.

    In those terms, it’s still a wild frontier down here!

    • diannejacob says

      Hello Sandra, great to hear from you. I thought that too, actually, that brands have not embraced food bloggers Down Under yet. But I’m not sure you should be disappointed. They have done so here but many of them pay so little it is hardly worth the time. Since food bloggers are happy to accept, I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon.

  16. LifeandLarderBlogger says

    I had to read about a the Australian bloggers conference on an American blog!. Well, that’s how the web works! How great are the central markets in Adelaide?

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