It's the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference, Eh?

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Food writers, bloggers and emerging writers at Canada’s first conference, networking and schmoozing during a break. That’s Alison Fryer on the right, owner of Toronto’s 30-year old bookstore, The Cookbook Store. She moderated many of the sessions with wit and a stopwatch.

Gotta love those Canucks, eh? After years of attending food blogging conferences in the States and elsewhere, they’ve finally created their own.

The first annual conference was held at a gorgeous venue, the Hockley Valley Resort outside Toronto. There were excellent meals, wine, and snacks; tons of enviable giveaways; and most importantly, an outstanding group of Canadian speakers. Topics included writing as a skill and career, best practices for working with brands, and how people became successful as food bloggers, cookbook authors and freelancers.

Food Bloggers of Canada organizers Mardi Michels, Melissa Hartfiel and Ethan Adeland invited me to talk about getting comments on blogs and on how to get published. Speaking of that topic, I heard lots of buzz about this article on the Toronto Star Cookbook, an honest look (including advance numbers) about how hard it was to land a deal and write the book.

I had an additional qualification as a speaker: I’m Canadian, born in Vancouver (I moved to California in my 20s). Don’t get me started about how cool it was to be back in Canada, where people are polite and friendly and Nanaimo bars are on the menu. Plus, I got to stock up on Smarties, because my stash was running out from my trip to Ireland and London last year.

Keynote speaker David Leite tasted his first Nanaimo Bar.

During the sessions and over meals, it was satisfying to hear about the lightbulbs that went off in attendees’ heads as they listened to speakers give background and tips on writing, blogging, and career paths. I caught up with my buddy David Leite, the conference’s keynoter, who charmed the crowd with stories about his writing, for which he has won many national awards in the US. I too learned from talented speakers who were self-deprecating, generous about how they do their craft, and unfailingly nice. I hope to hear more from them on social media. Now, where are those Smarties?

To read more about the conference, see these early posts:



  1. says

    Thank you so much for coming Dianne! I know your sessions were highlights for so many people and we were so glad you could be with us all weekend. People commented on how wonderful it was that you spent time with them outside of your speaking. And, if you make it home to Vancouver some time, Ethan and I would love to take you out for a meal – we may know one or two good places to eat 😉 Thanks again!

    • diannejacob says

      That would be fun, Melissa. I haven’t been to Vancouver for a while. I do love to hang out with people and hear their stories. I wish it had been longer!

  2. says

    Dianne thank you so much for attending and speaking at the first ever FBC conference (first of many?). Our attendees were absolutely thrilled to have you speak (as were we!) and it was wonderful to have you at all the sessions with such valuable insight to offer. Thank you again!

    • diannejacob says

      My pleasure Mardi. I was thrilled to be at the very first conference and to see you again. I hope it is one of many.

  3. says

    Dianne, it was a pleasure to meet you, and thank you so much for your wonderful talk and insights. I was thrilled to learn from you in person (your book is literally in tatters on my desk) and I can’t wait to put your words of wisdom into practice.

  4. says

    Thank you for traveling so far north to help us kick off our first food blogging conference, Dianne. It was good to chat with you and I really enjoyed the discussions in and around your session. My only regret is that I did not bring your book to have it autographed!

  5. says

    It certainly sounds like another brilliant blogging conference and it also sounds as though you’ve made another bunch of friends too! So glad to see you getting around – we all have much to learn from you.
    I’ll be in Canada in just a few weeks and am hoping to catch up with Mardi while there.

    • diannejacob says

      It was, Amanda, and I definitely have new friends! Just like yours in Australia, people were so excited to get together, and the speakers did a brilliant job.

      Wonderful that you’re off traveling again. Dress in layers — an ice storm hit Toronto the day we arrived, and a few days later I walked around in the sun without my coat!

  6. says

    Thanks for traveling half way across the continent to share your insights and knowledge. Like Aimee, I’m kicking myself for not bringing my copy of your book to sign. Next time I paths cross I’ll bring my books and a Sharpie (and a box or two of Smarties for you!)

  7. says

    Dianne, thank you so much for linking to that article in the Toronto Star about Jennifer Bain’s cookbook experience. I am so, so glad that she is shining light on that process, and it all sounds just about right! Maybe she’ll write another article about the terrifying time right after publication. For me, that’s by far the hardest – especially for a first book. Or maybe … you’ll do a post about it? (hint hint) That really needs to be written about – for authors, aspiring authors, and for readers. Oh, please?


    • diannejacob says

      It was terrific, wasn’t it? I thought she was so brave to share her experience and put in real numbers What do you mean by the terrifying time right after publication? Those first few weeks of publicity?

      • says

        Not just the publicity itself, but worrying over whether anyone will buy or read your book, what readers will say about it, whether or not you’ll even get any publicity, will anyone write a review on amazon (seeing a book with no reviews, any book with no reviews, on amazon is so painful!), if they do write amazon reviews whether the amazon reviews will be fair and measured or unfair and unkind’97and then how to handle it as it happens. I wish I had been told by someone with experience where my own efforts to promote the book would best be placed, what sort of sales numbers were considered “good,” and what sort of information I could even hope to receive, and when, from the publisher. Just to name a few things.

        By the way, I emailed Jennifer Bain to thank her for writing her article and she was very gracious and wrote back pretty swiftly. I am now a big fan!


        • diannejacob says

          Well, a lot of that is unknown, but I do know what you mean. Now that you’ve been through it once, you’ll know what to expect next time. Actually people have hired me to help them through that period, even though I’m not a publicist.

          Very good about Jennifer. She’s a pro. There was a big event for her book after the conference but I couldn’t go and meet her in person.

    • diannejacob says

      Oh thanks Valerie. I’m still Canadian at heart. Wonderful to meet you too and we will be in touch as soon as I dig out.

  8. says

    You were a highlight for me. I was too chicken to talk to you but I got so much out of your two panel presentations so thank you for coming back to the motherland to share your knowledge and experience with us. The least we could do was throw a few nanaimo bars your way.

    • diannejacob says

      How did you like those Nanaimo bars? I thought they were pretty good but the chocolate topping was wrong. Should be a thin layer of bittersweet chocolate, not milk chocolate icing.

      Sorry to read that you were chicken but I understand it. I have been chicken too. I hope you find, when you get up the courage, that some people are happy to talk with you and discover what you’re doing too.

  9. says

    I do love Toronto. The conference sounds like it was way cool. I hate to admit it but I have not been to one yet. I need to seriously make that happen. Enjoy your Smarties…

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Susan, I will. But first I have to pry them away from my husband!

      You do need to get out and be among your peeps. It’s a worthwhile experience, and really fun too.

  10. says

    It was an absolutely pleasure to meet & talk with you, Dianne. All the panels & speakers were amazing. What struck me was that the speakers were available all weekend, that in itself is amazing. If you ever run out of Smarties, well, you`ll have to make another trip north, we`re happy to have you. :)

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Jeanine. One of the great things about having a conference in an isolated location is that the speakers can’t run off with each other, which I have seen happen at other conferences. So that was very smart of the organizers.

      I’m happy to come back. I spoke at the Okanagan Food Writers’ Workshop a few years ago, so I had an opportunity to stock up on Smarties and jujubes then. I’m trying to wean myself off jujubes so I didn’t buy any.

  11. says

    Dianne, thank you so much for travelling to the conference and giving your wonderful perspective. All of the panelists were amazing, but a lot of your key messages seemed to resonate with me. Also, I very much appreciate you linking to my post and offering it as a resource to your readers. Once again, thank you!

    • diannejacob says

      My pleasure, Britt. I can’t believe all the notes you took and how quickly you made them into a post!

  12. says

    Dianne –

    After years of admiring your words on paper and online, it was such a treat to finally see you speak (in real life [!], as was said so many times over the weekend). Your words resonated with me and I am looking forward to putting a stronger focus on my interaction with readers.

    Thank you for sharing my post-conference recap. It wasn’t what I thought I would write about, but it happened to be what came out.


    • diannejacob says

      Yes, sometimes that’s what happens, and it’s good that you went with it and provided a personal perspective for shy and introverted people — often the case with writers. I’m sure you struck an emotional chord with many.

      Thanks for the kind words and hope to see you again.

  13. says

    Dianne, it was such a thrill to see you speak. Your words were insightful and inspiring and I went out and bought your book as soon as my plane landed back in Saskatoon. My only regret is not speaking with you more – I guess I was a little awestruck, which in hindsight I realize is just plain silly. But perhaps our paths will cross again and I’ll be the girl with more gumption. Thanks again for being part of a memorable weekend.

    • diannejacob says

      I’m so happy to hear that, Rene. I hope you enjoy my book.

      I have been through the same thing myself, where I have been afraid to talk with people. In fact, I left an important restaurant critic out of my book because I was to scared to call and interview him! So it’s not just you. I hope our paths cross again.

  14. says

    Oh, Dianne, I so wish I could have gone. I would have so moved being with you and David! And I love Canadians! Ha! It sounds like you had a great time and it sounds like this was one food blogger conference that was an angle that interests me (writing, skills, publishing). I’m glad you had a fun time!

    And man why didn’t you ask me to bring you Smarties from France?!

    • diannejacob says

      It was really fun, Jamie, but of course, you can’t go to everything. It’s too expensive. Smarties from France! I had no idea. Are they the British ones?

  15. says

    It was so nice to have the chance to talk to you for a few minutes at the conference. The impact you made on me is that now I want to push myself and take classes. It is never too late to learn. You have inspired me to follow a path that I might have never taken. I am in front of two roads and this conference helped me decide which one to take. Thanks and you should come to Ottawa with David for some Queues de Castor in the Market :)

    • diannejacob says

      That’s wonderful, Helene. We’re all still learning, all the time, so it seems like a natural state to me. We were talking about taking some journalism or writing classes, I believe. I’ve said many times that the skills I learned in journalism school have served me every single day.

      Great to meet you at the conference, and I’ve never been to Ottawa, so I’d love to come with you as my guide.

  16. says

    I enjoyed meeting you at the conference, Dianne, and the opportunity to listen to you speak. I’ve been been finding your insights through your book and blog thought-provoking and excellent guidance as I navigate my way through the world of food blogging.

    For me, the conference is summed up in four words: community, learning, food and generosity. By the latter I include the generosity of the speakers, including yourself, who made themselves available to participants throughout the conference. This was not only my first blogging conference, but also the first time I’d met other food bloggers in real life. It makes such a difference to have connections like these.

    Thanks for signing my marked-up copy of your book!

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Marlene! Thank you so much. I agree with those four words. It’s why I get a high every time I go to blogging conferences, and particularly this one.

      Some conferences take place in big cities where it is easy to sneak out. At this one, we’re all in the room together, and that makes a difference. Plus, I love finding out about people and hearing what they’re doing. It’s so inspiring.

      I hope this is the first of many conferences for you.


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