The Fun That Was BlogHer Food

BlogHer Food attendees get ready to take an early morning power walk through San Francisco. From top left to right, Nikki, Leena, Alice, Sam, and Alanna, and crashing the party with her Charlie’s Angels pose, our very own Jaden.

A little over 6 years ago I started this blog, Simply Recipes, with the sole intention of documenting some of my family’s recipes for my siblings and friends. I didn’t know what I was doing. The software was hard, my photos were ugly, and I was learning quickly that I knew much less about cooking than I thought I did. Fortunately, at the time, there were a handful of other folks also putting their food passions into blog form, and we turned to each other for advice and inspiration. Clotilde helped me out with camera setting advice; Heidi told me what lens to get; David taught me how to make ice cream. Over the years, this band of food bloggers has grown to thousands. The spirit of generosity and sharing of knowledge that shaped the food blogging community early on continues to expand.

If you like what you see here on Simply Recipes, it’s because what I cook, write, and photograph has been inspired by and informed by the vibrant food blogging community of which I am part. So when 300 food bloggers gathered a couple weeks ago for the first annual BlogHer Food conference in San Francisco, I was practically beside myself with giddy anticipation. Here are just a few highlights from the BlogHer conference weekend.

Part I: The Night Before In Which We Stay Up Late Eating, Drinking, and Eating

The weekend started out with dinner at Contigo with Jaden, Jen of Devour the World, and Emily of Foodzie, next to a table with Anita and Cameron, Laura, as well as this precious one, Lucy:

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the daughter of Shauna and Danny. I think everyone falls madly in love with Lucy at first sight, and I was no exception. Of course the meal was spectacular. If you can make it to Contigo I highly recommend the tripe and chorizo, the sardines on toast, and the pulpo salad. (A serious yes on the tripe. I don’t like tripe. I avoid menudo. But Brett’s tripe with chorizo and garbanzo beans is outstanding. It will make you a tripe lover.)

Jaden and I then retreated to our room at the Westin with Jenny where we had a raucous girls night in,

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Jaden, Ree, Andrea, and Jenny

stuffing our already sated selves with the best ice cream on the planet (I want to drown in that salted caramel ice cream)

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Ree and Alanna

and playing silly people tricks (Ree won, hands down, the woman is a human pretzel).

Part II: The Conference, in Which We Do a Lot of Hugging, Learning, Listening, and Gabbing

The next morning Jaden and I woke up simultaneously at 5:15 AM. Jaden had a good excuse, being on East Coast time. But me? I rarely crawl out of bed before 8 am, after staying up past midnight most nights. But if you’re up, you’re up. We decided to be the welcoming committee for the gang of early risers going out for a walking tour of the city at 6:30 am, organized by Sam Breach.

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Not as if we would be braving the cold and dark for the hilly walk, but we certainly admired Sam and the gang.

The conference was held at the beautiful 5-star St. Regis, where we ran into this bunch in the lobby.

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Top row: Cheri, Lydia, Cora, V. Druckman, Lisa Fain, Andrea Myers, Stephanie O’Dea
Front row: Anne-Marie Nichols, Rebecca Caro, Tea, and me.
Our photographer was the wonderful Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Breakfast consisted of lots of jumping up and down with glee seeing old friends and new.

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Heidi and Matt

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The Beige Team: Matt, Hank, and Garrett

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Jaden and David

I participated in two panels, the first with Lisa of Analis First Amendment, brilliantly moderated by Sean of Hedonia on protecting your work. The second panel was the closing keynote with best-friends-forever Ree and David, moderated by BlogHer’s founder and CEO (and BFF as well) Lisa Stone. My mom and dad came down from Sacramento and sat in the keynote. Big thanks to everyone who introduced themselves to them, mom and dad felt like rockstars!

Part III: The After Party, Where We Learn That Jaden and Garrett Are Both Excellent Dancers, and Where We All Get Well Fed, Well Coffee’d, and Well Margarita’d

I forget how it came about (probably Jaden’s idea because we all know she is a troublemaker), but somehow Ree in Oklahoma, Jaden in Florida, and I in Sacramento, decided to put on a party for 200 BlogHer food bloggers in San Francisco. Now the last time I threw a party for 200 people it was in college and it was a KEGGER. With chips. But chips and beer wouldn’t do for this crowd, so Ree and Jaden found generous sponsors, and Jenny Kayano came to our rescue as our party planner and we were off to the races.

A note about Jenny. The woman walks on water. Four days before the event our venue fell through due to unforeseen permitting issues. The caterer had already been paid, the bus limos ordered, space inspected, plans drawn. Weeks of work. All about to go poof. Jenny came through like a tornado in Kansas, and along with some quick thinking and generous help of a friend of a friend Jessica Mullens of Mullens PR, we had a new venue, only a block away from the hotel, at the cozy and fun Tropisueno Mexican restaurant.

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Photo by Jen of Ree, me, and Jaden

The food was great, the DJ played hits from the 80s (so even I could recognize the songs), and the margaritas hit the spot. This party was the most fun I’ve had in years, and the main reason it’s taken me so long (2 weeks) to write about it. One doesn’t recover as well from extended carousing as one did say when one was in one’s twenties.

Did you know? Jaden can dance! Like, really dance. Salsa. Complicated moves.

Garrett can dance too, but I already knew that, he used to be a GoGo dancer in a former life. There is a video floating around somewhere of Garrett and me dancing at the party, which we would rather not see. May a plague of locusts descend on your bundt cake if you find it and post it in the comments.

The party would have been beer and chips (cheap bear and fritos) if not for our sponsors. A big thank you and call out to:

  • Hewlett Packard who were showing off their new web conneted printer.
  • Tasty Kitchen – the latest mega project of Ree, the Pioneer Woman where you can post your own recipes and participate in a vibrant cooking community.
  • Scharffen Berger and Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake provided 200 of the most luscious chocolate mousse cakes.
  • Starbucks made wicked drinks with their latest product Via Instant Coffee.
  • Chef’s Catalog provided amazing goodie bags for party attendees packed with useful, cool cooking tools.
  • Foodzie‘s Emily Olson brought her team and shared beautiful artisan desserts.
  • Hardy from Murphy Goode poured wonderful wine.

It’s hard to sum up a weekend like this, even in this rather long post. To all who came to the party, thank you for joining us. For all who had a hand in organizing BlogHer Food, thank you for the opportunity you gave us, to come together and share our love of our craft. For all of you just stopping by, thank you for doing so, and please click on a few of the links so you can see what the fuss is about.

48 Comments

  1. alice

    Thank you for hosting such an incredible party! Your parents were so incredibly adorable.

    Hi Alice, thank you for saying hello to them! They had such a fun time. ~Elise

  2. barbara

    You’ll always be special to me Elise as you were the first blogger I met when I started blogging.

    I really enjoyed following the sessions on Live Blogher.

  3. Helen-Tartelette

    Elise, it was an honor to finally meet you and be part of this event. All the anxiety of being on a panel disappeared the minute I stepped in the breakfast room and saw everybody “in real life”.
    Happy to have met your parents too, they were beaming at their “rocking” daughter, you could tell they were so proud of you.
    Looking forward to the future!
    P.S: you ladies surely know how to put together one awesome after party!

  4. marla

    Excellent re-cap about the fabulous BlogHer food weekend. You were all such wonderful inspirations. What a vibrant community I have become a part of.

    I launched my blog Family Fresh Cooking this past June. It is quite the job getting a blog started and challenging to maintain, but sooooo well worth it! Each day brings on unique experiences and new lessons on how to give my blog it’s footing in this vast community.

    Here is a link to my BlogHer experience:
    http://www.familyfreshcooking.com/blog/2009/09/28/citizen-cake-and-me-blogher-sf-wrap-up/

    I look forward to meeting you next year at BlogHer!

    BTW: Great after-party at Tropisueno. So fun to catch up with everyone after the event.

  5. Hagan

    I know two girls that went and they absolutely loved it! It sounds like a great event. When is the BlogMan conference (or would it be Man-Blog)?

  6. Alanna

    I’d just like to point out, ahem, that what I’m pointing at in the first photo is the heels on Jaden’s shoes, otherwise we’d have been dragging her along. Sam’s “urban hike” was definitely a highlight of the conference!

  7. Marsha Darling

    I haven’t read or used your blog, but love your website. The recipes I’ve tried are great. I’m an insurance agent who loves to cook. Would love to make every recipes that looks good just to have one bite.

  8. Caron Golden

    Oh, Elise, it was a fun, rambunctious weekend! I was so glad to meet you, along with all the other bloggers I’ve only known virtually. I really appreciated your insights on the Protecting Your Work panel. And, the after party rocked. The food was divine and I was mezmerized by HP’s touch screen computer demo. I’d get it, but one of my cats loves to touch my current screens. If it actually responded, I’d be in big trouble!

    Here’s to next year!

  9. Jessica

    I can not thank you enough for this post, you have been a real inspiration. I have been blogging for just about 6 months now and though I am so truly passionate about my food, there are days when I just feel lost floating thru cyberspace and wonder if anyone even notices. I am praying to build a network of fellow bloggers the way you did. I suppose when you are following your passion, the rest all eventually falls in line.
    Thank you again and Best of luck with your continued success!
    CHOW!

  10. shauna

    Oh Elise, thank you so much. Of course, for the darling photo of Lucy (you forgot to mention how much she fell in love with you!).

    But mostly for you being at this event. I’ve been admiring you for years, and you’re such a friendly presence in this house, that meeting you in person was wonderful. Startling at first (there she is!), and then natural. I just wish we lived closer.

    And that party you three threw together was quite the shindig!

    I wrote up a little round-up of the weekend too, including a photo of the tripe:

    http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2009/10/where-life-leads-you.html

    Thank you, again and again.

    The Fun That Was BlogHer Food

  11. Kalyn

    What a wonderful post to capture the feeling of community that makes it so fun to be a food blogger (and even more fun to attend BlogHer Food!) I love your photos! My only regret is that it’s impossible to be in two places at once so I know I missed a lot of fun. It was great to meet your parents, but then my brother came and I didn’t get to talk to them as much as I would have liked. Next time I wish the conference could be for two days. (And I agree with Barbara, no matter how many food bloggers there are, you’ll always be special to me.)

  12. DALIAH

    Hi Elise,

    I was just browsing for recipes at my favorite site (simplyrecipes.com, of course for a Halloween Affair I’m hosting). I did not realize you are from the Bay Area. I have been using your recipes for quite a while now, they are indeed simple, clean, wholesome and delicious! I baked bread from scratch and they were good! I’m not really a blogger but am glad that you added pictures and stories, I read them and enjoyed it! I too want to say, your recipes have helped my family and my parties more than you know… More power with your site, I thought your recipes were my personal secret, it seems that there is a legion of us after all, and it makes me feel good that other women like your recipes as much as I do.

  13. Kate @ Savour Fare

    Elise,

    Thank you so much for everything you contributed to make the conference great – from the advice you’ve given to all us newbie food bloggers over the years to the thoughtful panel discussions to the fab afterparty. The thing you said that really stuck with me was that every post is an act of love — that has really informed the way I think about my own blog. Food bloggers are really a fun bunch, aren’t they?

  14. Paula Maack

    Elise,

    Thanks for the great memories! What a fun post! I had such a great time at Blogher Food ’09. It was my first Blogher event, and it was a blast – especially the after party. Thank you for inviting me, and for throwing such a fun bash!

    It was a pleasure meeting you and the gang – finally. You are such a sweetheart! I look forward to more great times in the future!

    Cheers,

    ~ Paula

  15. cheryl

    My favorite part of the whole weekend was realizing how down to earth even the most highly-trafficked food bloggers are. No snobbery, no pretense, just a whole community of folks like yourself out to share their knowledge and have a little fun. Many thanks!

  16. Rachelle

    Food bloggers are definitely the best at throwing a party! So Jaden can whip up some salsa in the kitchen and on the dance floor. You go girl!

    -Rachelle
    aka @TravelBlggr

  17. Danielle

    Thank you for the shout-out Elise, and absolutely love your recap. You captured the fun and smiles of the day perfectly. We didn’t get a chance to meet, but since we’re in the same area (sort of), I hope to get the chance to do so in time!

  18. Elisa Vaudo

    I’m not one to read blogs, but, I love your website, and your writing is so natural and down to earth. Reading about your Blogher event and seeing the photos was fun, but, then, being a salsa dancer myself, seeing the video of Jaden dancing was the “frosting on the cake”! Just great!!

  19. Susan

    It’s fun to eavesdrop in on the good times my favorite food bloggers have together. I’m not a blogger, but one of your groupies! I appreciate events like this as well because it helps all of you hone your blogsite style and content to my advantage as well! Go Bloghers!

  20. Lorenzo

    Hello from South Texas,
    I took the time to look at your site and felt compelled to write and compliment you, not only on your website but the simplicity of the recipes you share.

    I’m originally from the Desert Southwest and I must say that I’ve been infused with a touch traditional Mexican cooking (Albondigas, Enchiladas, Carne Asada, and a variety of Guisados) . Ever since I could remember I have always been in the kitchen while either of my parents were cooking something, (I considered my self the un-official food taster in the family, you know to the King, my Dad, or the queen Bee herself, my Mom….in my mind I knew that there was something missing, something I couldn’t put my finger on ……since then I’ve discovered what was missing, ……it was patience).

    When my children were small I always invited them and encouraged them to help in the kitchen. Now they are teenagers and their visits with me are limited to Summer Vacations I have found that having them contribute in the kitchen while preparing our meals has improved their self confidence. My daughter Laura now (13) wants to become a Pastry Chef, she mentioned yesterday in our phone conversation that “She has the need, to Knead” I did manage to tell her last year that in order to be accepted in any Culinary School she need’s to be on the A-B Honor Roll. My son Mario now (12 ) You know the type, ….going on 21 complaining about parental controls in his video games, the government’s imposition while raising the legal age limits from 18 to 21 which stifle their inherited rights to their own independence, freedom of expression which they feel they need in order to fulfill their ideas….he’s on his way to Law School. He wants to cook his meals for himself. I’m proud to say objective accomplished.

    Kid’s being kids, always being influence by their parents because they are a part of us, will always take a part of us with them. Since being apart from my children, I hope that my love and affection for them, will be what they remember the most and is what they use when they feel they need some encouragement and when they find themselves looking for that missing ingredient.

    Within the last couple of years I’ve tried doing something different, using recipes, before it was a little of this, lets try a little of that, Ok ..won’t kill us? Ok lets eat.

    Again God Bless, and Thank You for sharing.
    Lorenzo

  21. Katie @ goodLife {eats}

    You are such a genuine person, it was wonderful to meet you! And the party was truly awesome. I never had one of the chocolate cakes and I’m kicking myself for that, but the tacos really hit the spot and Foodzie caramels were to die for.

  22. Elana

    Elise,

    What a great post and a great party. You sure know how to throw an amazing bash. It was wonderful to meet you at Blogher and thanks so much for continuing to inspire me!

    Elana

  23. Beth

    Looks like such a fun and informative time! Thanks for posting so much about it. I’ve definitely decided that next year’s conference is a must.

  24. Andrea Meyers

    Elise, it was so lovely to see you again, I’m glad we bumped into each other! For me the best part of these conferences is the people and the conversations, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Thanks to you, Ree, Jaden, and Jenny for all your work organizing the after party.

  25. Angie

    What a great recap of the festivities. I hope I will be able to go next year. I was just thinking this morning about how many people I have made friends with over the past few months have already stopped blogging, seeings how I have only been at this about 6 months. It will be great to have some inspiration and support from more veteran bloggers.

  26. Espahan

    Thanks for sharing this. What fun to hang with so many friendly internet foodies. This reminds me of a wonderful writers conference I attended where I met all my internet writer friends and we amazingly hit it off like we had known each other for years. Like minds, they say.

  27. Dianne Jacob

    Hi Elise,

    I just read this post after getting David L.’s newsletter, so I’m a little late to the party.

    I’m so glad I got to meet you at BlogHer. I’ve admired you and Simply Recipes for years, so it was satisfying to meet you in real life. I get so tired of staring at my screen sometimes!

    And thanks, if I did not say so earlier, for inviting me to the bash that followed.

    Here’s my blog post on the event:
    http://diannej.com/blog/2009/09/the-thrill-of-blogher-food/

  28. Sharon

    Nice to read. Your blog is my “go to” when menu planning. Quite a number (enchiladas, quick chicken curry) have become on the regular rotation here.

    Thanks!

  29. Jessica Lee Binder

    I wasn’t able to attend but I’ve really enjoyed reading all about it in the last few weeks on so many blogs. Everyone looks so friendly in these pictures and it really makes me want to meet everyone!

  30. Alice Q. Foodie

    Great post Elise – it was such a whirlwind day – and a long one! I still can’t believe I got up for that hike! What a great post to sum it all up. I couldn’t agree more about the community of food bloggers – I’ve learned so much more about food just by being a part of it than I ever could have imagined. Looking forward to more events like this in the future!

  31. Chris

    I so enjoyed reading this recap. Thank you for a great weekend! It was wonderful finally meeting you after all these years. Your just as lovely in person as I thought through following Simply Recipes and I look forward to our paths crossing again soon.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.