Last weekend I was in Chicago for the 2009 BlogHer Conference, where I had a good time hanging out with blogging friends and getting a few blogging tips. This is the fourth time I’ve attended the BlogHer summer conference, and every time it’s been a growing experience for me. I’m a huge fan of BlogHer, which you can tell because I write for BlogHer.com. I support BlogHer’s mission of promoting women bloggers, and have utmost respect for the organization and its co-founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins. Right now there is a conversation going on about what worked and what didn’t work at BlogHer ’09, so if you were there and have opinions, please go to BlogHer.com and give your feedback. (So much more classy than writing some kind of rant on your blog about something that happened to rub you the wrong way.)
For this post, I thought it might be fun to start my personal photo gallery with this charming centerpiece (made entirely of vegetables!) from the Friday lunch provided by Ragu. Each year the conference has generous corporate sponsors who subsidize the costs, which has allowed the registration fee to stay at $99 per day for the last five years. The sponsors also give away more free stuff than anyone could ever carry home (some of which is actually pretty cool.) If you didn’t make it to BlogHer this year, check the links after my photos for where to see videos, recaps, liveblogging, and more photo galleries. I’ll also put links there for the food bloggers you see in these photos, so if there are people who are new to you, please go check out their blogs!
Before I went to Chicago I shared on the blog about one reason I was excited to go to Chicago. Yes, I did make it to Penzeys, thanks to my great blogging friend Lydia, who helped me get there on the train (I’m geographically impaired!) Thanks also to Lydia for this photo (taken with her iPhone) to document that I was there. (Not sure why I have such a funny look on my face, but I will say that trying to smile for photos with braces is a bit of a challenge.)
I loved visiting Penzeys, but my visit to The Spice House the same day may have been even more life-changing. Another iPhone photo taken by Lydia, and this time it’s me with Patty Penzey Erd (yes, she’s from the same Penzey’s family.) Patty gave us a great lesson about various types of cinnamon and then generously provided Cassia cinnamon as a gift for the food bloggers we were having dinner with. The Spice House has many of the same spices as Penzey’s, but they also have eclectic offerings that are really unique. I bought some fun things that will probably be showing up on the blog.
Friday morning, and lots of friends had breakfast together, many of whom knew each other from last year in San Francisco. From left, Stephanie from A Year of Slow Cooking, Lydia from The Perfect Pantry, Biggie from Lunch in a Box, Gudren from Kitchen Gadget Girl, Jeanette from Pasta Queen, and Alanna from Kitchen Parade. (Remember, there are links for everyone after the photos.)
After breakfast we wandered around a bit a ran into some more friends. From left is Elise from Simply Recipes, Cora from Cora Cooks, Lydia, Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp, Alanna, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen, and me.
This photo is from Maris from In Good Taste, who let me grab it from her Facebook page. From left, Sandie from Inn Cuisine, Gudren, Maris, Kristen from Dine and Dish (holding the adorable Leah), and Kathy from Panini Happy.
Jaden was speaking on a panel on Friday about Brands and Bloggers, and I snapped a photo of her waiting to get her mike fitted. (While we were there Jaden gave me an advance copy of her soon-to-be-released Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, which is going to be stunning. Thanks Jaden!)
One of the highlights of Friday for me was getting to see celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who did a cooking demonstration where I had a life-changing experience watching him chop cilantro. (More on that later, plus the recipe for what he cooked coming soon.) I had gone to his restaurant Topolobampo on Wednesday with Lydia and her husband Ted, and we had fun telling him how much we enjoyed it. (More about Topolobampo coming soon too.)
Friday night all the food bloggers went to dinner at one of my favorite long-time Chicago restaurants called Greek Islands. This is Jane from This Week for Dinner, Kelly, and Jaden hanging out while we waited for our tables.
There were people snapping photos everywhere. This is Elise, Kathy, and Roni from Green Lite Bites.
Eventually I used my best school-teacher voice and rounded everyone up into a big group, only to find out I couldn’t get them all in one shot. Here’s the first half of the group, from left, Kristen (far back), Lydia, Maris, Cora (peeking through), Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy, Krista from Londonelicious, Biggie, Roni (way in back), Stef from Iron Stef, Kelly, Jennifer from Savor the Thyme, and Elise.
Here’s the second half of the group waiting for dinner, from left, Jaden, Hetal from Show Me the Curry, Alanna, Anuja from Show Me the Curry, Stephanie, Sandie (hidden), Kristen (half hidden), Lydia, and Maris.
At dinner, enjoying the Greek food, from left, Anuja, Krista, Hetal, Kim from Building Blocks Show, Kristen, Stephanie, and Gudren.
At the middle table, from left, Sandie, Kelly, Stef (partly hidden), Elise, and Jennifer.
This is the other side of the table with Alanna, Kathy, an empty spot where I should have been if I wasn’t taking photos, and Sandie.
At the third table we had Roni, Sara, Jaden, and Biggie who were obediently posing for me when I asked them to.
Also at that table was Ree from Pioneer Woman Cooks, Jaden, Cora, plus Lydia and Anne Marie from This Mama Cooks, who somehow didn’t get into the photo. (We were honored that Ree took time to have dinner with us because she had her family in Chicago with her. Yes, I did see Marlboro Man and he was quite charming.)
Fast forward to Saturday, which turned out to have an exciting start as some of our friends got to meet Food Network celebrity Dave Lieberman. From left are Maris, Kathy, Jaden, Dave, Elise, Jennifer, and Alanna. (Thanks again to Maris who let me grab this photo from Facebook as well.)
That same day Paula Deen was going to make an appearance in the exhibit hall, so as you can imagine we food bloggers were there. (Unfortunately Paula’s plane was late and only a few of us actually got to stick around long enough to see her.) From left, Jaden, Cora, Sandie, Alanna, Jennifer (far back), Elise, Jane (far back) Sara, and Krista.
Whew! I hope I didn’t mess up too many names. As you can tell, we had a lot of fun, and even learned a few things about blogging too. Now as promised, here are the blog links for all these lovely ladies.
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37 Comments on “Friday Night Photos: Fun Times Meeting Food Bloggers at BlogHer ’09”
Nice! What a fantastic time. I absolutely must attend next year.
Again a gentle post. Thanks your friend
Maris, I'm excited too. We're counting on you to show us around NY a bit.
Sara, you're welcome. Fun seeing you again. Little by little, we get to know each other!
Susan, cannot wait to meet you! We can all three go together!
Srivalli, thanks. We did have a lot of fun.
Anne, even if you can't make it to BlogHer, you *must* stop at Penzeys sometime. (Make the kids stay in the car!) How great to have one so close.
I'm so afraid I will never get to go – which is why I cherish post such as yours so much! What fun to live vicariously through your photos and commentary!
There is a Penzey's about 40 miles from me, and although I pass near it regularly, I never get to stop. You've covered two bases for me in this post.
Great pictures Kalyn, good that you guys had fun!
Looks like it was great fun, Kalyn. Just registered for NY. Hope I get to meet you and other food bloggers next year. (If Lydia can't take you to Kalustyan's, I will. ; ))
I'm so glad you did this roundup Kalyn! I'm still out and about and afraid I'm going to lose all the cards I got and forget the new faces with all the bouncing around I'm doing on this US trip…thank goodness you've already gathered them in one post for me. 🙂
Thanks for organizing again, you really bring us together!
Love your photos and recap. I am already excited for BlogHer '10!
And agree with your thoughts on ranting/criticism. There is a time and a place. Some can do it eloquently on their blogs – but not the majority.
Kim, fun meeting you too. I never manage to do everything, but I try!
Pam, you're going to love the cilantro technique!
Susan, I know that Elise, Jaden, and I will be in SF, and probably some others too. Look forward to meeting you!
Amy, I loved Rick Bayless. (Already bought one of his books since I came home!) Glad you liked it, it did take a while but it was fun too.
I would have loved to see Rick Bayless – I adore his work. It's so neat to see all of those women together, joined for a common purpose. I got a warm-fuzzy feeling just from reading this.
Thanks for sharing – this post took some work.
Sounds (and looks) like you all had such a blast! I so wish I could have been there. Next year, I'm getting my ticket the very first day they're available! Hope some of these fun ladies will be in San Fran in September!
Wow! What a fun time! I am so jealous!
I can't wait to hear about chopping cilantro.
Thanks for posting all the fun photos, Kalyn. It was a pleasure meeting you. Looks like you really took advantage of all that BlogHer had to offer. You must have been busy!
Kathy, fun seeing you again!
KM, I wasn't remotely implying that criticism should be silenced, merely that there is a difference between purely ranting for shock value and constructive criticism, where it is addressed to someone who can actually do something about the situation. That's why I feel it's good to direct comments about the conference directly to BlogHer, since they are in charge of the conference. Let's get real here. There are bloggers who go to BlogHer, miss all the sessions, get drunk and offend everyone they come into contact with, and then come home and write some kind of rant post as an attempt to get attention and drive traffic to their blog. I'm sick of that type of behavior and I don't care who knows that I don't consider it to be classy. And quite honestly, aren't you doing the same thing you accuse me of by telling *me* what I can write on my blog? No one is trying to engage in any kind of "post BlogHer silencing" around here, but I do have the right to encourage people to direct their criticism where it will have an impact, which is what I was trying to do.
I've been enjoying reading people's roundups of BlogHer, both the good and the bad, so this was fun. It's also nice that there are live-blogs of the various sessions, but it seems like they are truly not the point of the giant slumber party, er, I mean convention. *grin*
Maybe after NY, BlogHer will come to the northwest and I'll be able to make it. (We all need a huge slumber party with 1000 of our closest friends, right?)
I do, however, have to take exception to this statement:
"So much more classy than writing some kind of rant on your blog about something that happened to rub you the wrong way."
I think that ALL opinions should be expressed, not just positive ones. Nor does it seem right to redirect people off of their own sites to a BlogHer post. We are bloggers, we write, we vent, we rant, we praise, we diss. But, by and large, we do it on our own sites.
For you, as a self-identified BlogHer insider to say that criticism is wrong, in a post where you lavish praise, just rubs me the wrong way. (Others too, I bet, but I am enough of a heretic to say it out loud.) It smacks of selective censorship – praise is great and you encourage it, critique is so bad it should not see the light of day except as a comment on a post few people will ever see.
Seeing this sort of post BlogHer silencing has been a real disappointment and I hope that it stops.
Great recap and photos, Kalyn! I may need to e-mail you for copies of a few of those pics 🙂 It was so great to see you again – I'm glad we had the chance to catch up throughout the conference.
Rick Bayless was so awesome. Older than I thought and very thin, in a healthy-looking way. And man, can he ever chop!
Alejandra, I absolutely recommend it! Learn things every year.
Peter, would be so fun if you came down! You're not that far from NY are you? Love to meet you in person.