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.
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.
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.
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.