Monday, January 30, 2012

Food Blog South 2012 Recap

What do you get when you combine 200 foodies and bloggers, amazing cookbook authors, incredibly talented food photographers and food stylists, and wonderful chefs all in one building?  Well, Food Blog South, of course!

Food Blog South held its second conference in Birmingham, AL this year, and I feel so lucky to have attended.  It has quickly become the second largest food blogging conference in the nation, and it can best be described as a whirlwind of culinary wonderfulness, if you ask me!  

Not only did I get to meet and spend valuable time with Virginia Willis, Helene Dujardin, Dianne Jacobs and Lisa Ekus, but I also got to meet some pretty awesome food bloggers from around the USA.  People came from as far away as California for the event. 

When I heard that both Virginia Willis and Hélène Dujardin would be there, I didn't waste any time buying my ticket.  Virginia Willis is the author of both Bon Appetit, Ya'll and Basic to Brilliant, Ya'll (which are both amazing cookbooks!).  She is a graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine and Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne, she worked as the Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart Living Television, and she has prepared meals for President Clinton, Aretha Franklin and JULIA CHILD to name a few!

Me and Virginia Willis!  :)

I discovered Hélène Dujardin's food blog, Tartelette, back in 2007 and have been a faithful follower ever since.  In fact, her blog is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place!  Her french macarons have got to be the most amazing, creative creations you'll ever see and her food photography skills are unbelievable.  She is incredibly talented and her work continues to be a huge inspiration to me.  Her first book, Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling, is a must-have read for anyone who wants to improve their food photography.

 Hélène Dujardin

I learned so much at this conference and really found the classes very informative.  Kara Nielsen gave a great presentation about the art of mapping food trends.  Her predictions for the biggest food trends in 2012?
  • Fine Dining (modernist cuisine meets land-to-table)
  • Return of Animal Fats
  • The Veritable Kouign-Amann (is this the next cupcake???)
  • Packaging Wild Foods
  • Sprouted Grains
  • Wholesome Beverage Choices
  • Yogurt (keeps growing!)
Here are some more photos from the weekend...Please excuse the quality.  I had to use my cell phone in a few low-light situations.  You can get the idea, though.  :)

Friday night, a few of us had the opportunity to dine with Virginia Willis and Lisa Ekus at Hot & Hot Fish Club.  The meal was superb...It was quite a treat!!  

So much deliciousness on one table!

I'm not usually a huge fan of raw oysters...BUT...when Virginia Willis personally hands you an oyster to try, you eat the dang thing!  HAHA.  Of course, it was actually delicious!

At the conference, I got to meet Chef Justin Balmes.  You might remember him from Season 7 of Next Food Network Star.

One of the classes that I was most excited about was the Food Photography & Styling Class taught by photographer Jennifer Davick and food stylist Marian Cooper Cairns.  This class was especially helpful and fun, because Jennifer and Marian set up tables with assorted fruits, plates, napkins, utensils and other food styling props.  We were able to pick and choose what we wanted to use and style our own photos.  There was gorgeous natural light coming in through the windows, and big diffusers really made for special lighting.  It's moments like those that make me really wish I was able to take advantage of natural lighting for my food photography.  Unfortunately, shooting mostly at night makes that impossible for me.  Here are a few of my photos from the class:

After the main conference, 6 of us headed over to Chez Fon Fon for dinner.  This is easily one of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham.  It's a quaint French bistro owned by James Beard nominee Chef Frank Stitt.  To our surprise, Chef Stitt personally came to our table at the beginning of the meal to bring us a special charcuterie platter.  He sure knows how to make a table of foodies feel extra special!

Compliments of the chef...

I ordered the Cassoulet at Chez Fon Fon:

The conference came to an end with a beer and cheese tasting at Good People Brewing Co, which was tons of fun!

I also want to take a minute to share a few food blogs from some of the talented food bloggers that I met over the weekend.  Be sure and give them some blog love and visit their pages:

Want more information about Food Blog South 2012?  CLICK HERE for another great article from!

I can't wait for Food Blog South 2013!  Will you be there?

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Erin said...

It was great to meet you Celeste! Great recap of such a great event. :)

Celeste said...

Erin!! It was so great to meet you, too! I included a link to your blog on this post. ;)

Genet said...

Hey Celeste! Wonderful post to sum up an incredible weekend! I enjoyed meeting you and look forward to sharing many more culinary adventures in the future! Thanks for your great company and the shout out!

Michelle said...

Celeste! So great to meet you. We'll have to stay in touch about future conferences. You are def. way more in the know than I am! I love your blog!! Can't wait to keep up with it.

Ashley said... have friends right down the road that can help with the "wild meat packaging" trend! :)

Angela said...

Was so nice to meet you this weekend. I love your post of the Food Blog did an amazing job!! I look forward to following you. Thanks for the link too!!