Category: Reviews | Post by: Andrea Wong
It was six months in the making and after a lot of hard yakka from Allison from The Gourmet Gannet, New Zealand had its first food bloggers' conference. We called it: For The Love Of Food.
The New Zealand Food Bloggers' Association was formed earlier in the year and Alli went into full swing organising the day for 26 of us food bloggers. And what a day it was! The Tasting Shed in Kumeu was the venue for the day and Cook The Books in Grey Lynn hosted us for dinner.
Upon arrival, we were greeted at the registration desk with a name badge and an incredible goodie bag. We had plenty of time to rifle through the goodies and catch up with our fellow bloggers before the day started.
We started the day with a talk by... me! I have had my web design business, Andrea Wong Design, for eight years so far and I thought that I could share a few web design and search engine optimisation tips with the others.
Jaco Swart followed and spoke about some of the thoughts behind social media. One of the takeaway points from his talk was to find out which social media channel suits your way of communicating - perhaps you communicate best with pictures (Flickr), or links that you find (Tumblr), or in short bursts (Twitter).
After morning tea, writer Alessandra Zecchini enlightened us on what it's really like to be a food writer. It was very interesting and I'm sure that the ones that aspire to become a professional writer, now have a better idea of what to expect.
Emma Boyd from F&P's Our Kitchen perhaps the most enviable position out of all of us. Her 9-to-5 job pays her to blog. The Our Kitchen team take two days per month to plan, cook, photograph and blog. They do a great job too.
The Tasting Shed brought out a generous number of tasting plates for us to tuck into for lunch. Being a bunch of food bloggers, we're all about the food and lunch was
greeted with much enthusiasm and snapping of pictures as the plates arrived at
The procession of tasting plates included:
- romesco chicken thighs with Israeli couscous
- roasted beetroot with onion beans, feta and walnuts
- braised and rolled pig's head (yes, pig's head!), kohlrabi remoulade, sweet and sour carrot
- prawns, cider, pickled shallots, garlic puree
- triple cooked potatoes, garlic and rosemary
- mushrooms, garlic and herb butter, crispy shallots, balsamic onion
- pan fried snapper with potato gratin
... phew, what a great meal!
I was quite intrigued by the pig's head dish. Jo from The Tasting Shed explained how they carefully cut up the head, roll it, hang it for a few days, braise it, coat it in mustard and crumbs and then pan fry it. The result is a dish that is rich and contains lots of interesting textures to keep your palate piqued.
After lunch we had a very lively Q&A panel discussion with Rosa Wakefield, Vanessa Opera, Jemma Adams and Bron Marshall. I think that if there's one thing that we like doing other than eating food... is talking about food! The excited chatter of 26 food bloggers is quite intoxicating.
Louise from Pacific Harvest showed us some exciting and different ways to use seaweed products. It's not as scary as it may seem, with some seaweeds having great taste profiles that can be used in familiar dishes, like puttanesca sauce (a pasta sauce with tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies) where the anchovies are substituted with seaweed making it a d'lish vegetarian sauce.
My most anticipated talk was from Bron Marshall. I have admired her photography for a while and it was great to hear her talk. Her mini workshop allowed us to see the difference between unfiltered light and diffused light. I love to hear people talk about photography - this is definitely an area that I want to pursue a lot more.
On the back of Bron's talk, I rushed out to a photography shop on Monday and bought myself one of the diffusers that Bron used. I love it already! You can see the difference between the diffused and non diffused light in the pics below.
5.30pm rolled around quite quickly and before we knew it, the main conference was over. Most of us however, made the trip back into town to Cook The Books for more chit chat and more food!
Cook The Books have a lovely cooking school space at the back of their shop and was just enough room for us to mingle and nibble some more.
A huge thanks must go out to Alli again for organising our first-ever conference, we are all keen to start thinking about next year's!
And a huge thanks also to all of our fantastic sponsors (listed below). We are so grateful and humbled that so many great companies got on board to support us food bloggers.
The Tasting Shed
Cook the Books
New Holland Publishing NZ
Photo & Video International
Henergy cafe-free eggs
I Love Pies
Loaf Handcrafted Breads