Wednesday, September 01, 2010

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IFBC 2010

flowersThe 2nd annual IFBC (International Food Blogger Conference) was held at Theo Chocolate, where just the night before there was a wedding shot by Jasmine Star that broadcast live over the internet for all to see. I watched some of it and followed some of the twitter feed, enough to know they stayed up well into Saturday morning getting the place cleaned up and ready for our IFBC conference. You may have noticed all the beautiful white flower bouquets surrounding the stage and on tables in the back of the room that were left over from the wedding.

I didn't have any trouble finding parking when I arrived at 8:00 AM. It took me a while to find the place to register. There was a small table tucked away and hiding behind the food line. No one else seemed to be in line for registration since most people probably registered the night before. I explained my circumstances and showed an email I printed out and finally got my badge for the day. I picked up some fruit, banana muffin and croissant from the breakfast table and a Pomx tea from a barrel of ice. I found a seat in the front row left side next to Donna Kelly of Fab Frugal Food. She has the best "business cards". Her contact info is printed on a bowl scraper. Each seat had a little notebook which at first I thought was a great idea for note taking in case some people didn't bring paper, like me. But no, it was a sudoku puzzle book. I ended up borrowing a few sheets of paper from Donna. Unfortunately, all the notes I took during the first three sessions seem to have disappeared. When I came back from lunch I couldn't find my notes but the blank sheets of paper and everything else was still there.


I was looking forward to the first session which was on recipe writing. I've never really given much thought to the art of writing recipes. It seems easy enough but I learned there's actually a lot more that goes into it. Amy Sherman, author of Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers: Classic Recipes Redefined was the moderator of the panel and she was joined by Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food and Kristine Kidd, food editor at Bon Appetit.

One of the most important things you need to know before writing a recipe is knowing who your audience is. How much do they know about cooking determines how much explanation and detail you need in your recipe. It's always good to give options for alternative ingredients or amounts. I've definitely found that to be helpful in The Herbfarm Cookbook. It's not only a good idea for personal tastes but it's also good if you're using hard to find ingredients. It's also always a good idea to test your recipe before publishing it. That doesn't mean testing it yourself, but having a friend test it to make sure they understand and are able to follow it and it actually works. There was also a debate on whether you should use semi colons or not. I don't use them myself, but I don't mind them either.

Recipe Writing Panel

The next session was on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), basically how to get your site placed high in Google searches to get the most traffic. This panel consisted of Joy Victory, Wordpress Editorial Czar, Barnaby Dorfman, Foodista CEO, and Mani Dhillon, UrbanSpoon general manager.

I don't spend a ton of time on this but there are things I do that they mentioned that are important in SEO. Here are just a few that were mentioned that come to mind and that I already do:
  • update site often (They didn't specify how often but I usually post a blogpost at least once a week)
  • use links (I always try to link companies and people when I reference them in my blog posts)
  • use captions/alt text on photos (I use the title= code in my images since Flickr does that automatically when you copy the code)
  • title posts wisely (Post titles should be specific and not too general)
  • check statistics (I recently started using Google Analytics which was mentioned. Using it shouldn't affect your SEO but it's good to see what sites are referring to yours and how much traffic you are getting)
  • use link backs (The more sites that refer to your site the better. When commenting on other blogs I include the url to my site. Urbanspoon also has a linkback program called "spoonback". If you put a specific html code that links to them on your blog post they will link back to yours. I just started using that site rather than Yelp fairly recently and have a few spoonbacks to some of my restaurant blog posts.)

One thing I learned about that I didn't know about before is Google Rank. The higher your Google Rank the better. I believe it ranges from 1-10. I looked mine up using this Google PageRank Checker and found my blog is only 2 but my Flickr stream is a whopping 5. I guess that explains why my flickr pics usually show up near the top of searches. I upload pics several times a week so I guess that is what has pushed it up there.

The next session was writing with all five senses with Kathleen Flinn. Lemons, both whole and sliced were handed out and we spent time describing them using different senses, one at a time. The main thing I learned from this session is that I'm no writer. People took turns saying what they wrote and there are some real talented writers out there. I would have been embarrassed sharing what I wrote. Writing and English were not my strong subjects in school and I never liked them much.

After the 3rd session it was 1:00 and time for some lunch. There were 4 delicious dishes to choose from, all fairly small portions so you could probably try them all without getting full and several wines to pair with. They had each chef give a description of what they would be serving and there were many gluten free options available and a couple of vegan dishes as well. I would have liked to try Chef Jason Stratton of Spinasse's zucchini capione but unfortunately they ran out. I heard from several people who did try it that it was very tasty. I just loved the plates and flatware from Bambu, so original. Below are the three dishes I did have.
Lunch - Beef Shoulder TartareBeef shoulder tartare prepared by Chef Daisley Gordon of Campagne
Lunch - Salmon Carpaccio Plate Lunch - Marinated Octopus with Chick Peas and Chorizo Vinaigrette Plate
Left: salmon carpaccio prepared by Chef John Howie of Seastar Restaurant
Right: marinated octopus with chick peas and chorizo vinaigrette prepared by Chef Shannon Galusha of Bastille Cafe and Bar
My favorite of these was the one I least expected to like, the octopus and chick peas. I'm not a fan of octopus and usually try to avoid it because all the times I've had it, it was rubbery and I don't like the texture. This octopus on the other hand was nothing like I remember. It was tender and the chorizo and chick peas went so well together. I almost went back for another plate but I held off.

flowersThere was still about an hour and a half before the next session and wasn't sure what I was going to do until then. I was checking tweets occasionally and saw one from @saltyseattle saying she was at "the former Triangle". I think I had only been there once, when it was the Triangle. I wasn't sure what it's new name or if that was really it's new name. I decided I would go hunt for it. I walked a few blocks North then Googled for it on my phone. Eventually, I found the address and the small group of foodies huddled around one of the booths having a drink. Drank down a Greyhound (vodka + grapefruit juice), exchanged cards with a few people, and then headed back for the next session.

We got back a couple minutes late but I don't think we missed much. This session was on Law & Ethics. Why they chose this subject right after lunch is beyond me. Much of what was said went right over my head. The panelists were Robin Goldstein, IP attorney, author and food/wine blogger, Robert Schroeder, Director of the FTC’s Northwest Regional Office in Seattle, and Barnaby Dorfman, CEO of Robin did a great job story telling and joke making to keep everyone awake despite the dry subject matter.

The final session was titled "From the Source: People Who Will Change The Way You Think About Food" Jack Czarnecki from Oregon White Truffle Oil, Debra Music from Theo Chocolate and Andrew Stout CEO/Founder of Full Circle Farm were the speakers. Each one talked a little bit about their products and where they came from.

Before dinner there was a sherry tasting party hosted by the Secret Sherry Society and appetizers were provided by Chef Philippe Thomelin of Olivar. I'm not much of a sherry fan but I did try all four along with the appetizers.
Sherry Tasting Table Sherry Tasting App - Lamb Meatballs

James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief of Saveur did a keynote speech before dinner. He gave a great presentation and was able to keep everyone's attention. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

There were lots of options for dinner and again the chefs introduced themselves and the dishes they had prepared. I really wish menus were provided that showed what chefs created what dishes. I did find one via twitter for the lunch menu but didn't come across one for dinner.

The lighting for dinner photos was not the best. I took my photos using candle light of the four dishes I tried, including dessert which was an awesome molten chocolate cake. My favorite dinner dish was probably the beef cheek. It was so melt in your mouth tender.

salmon chick pea salad
Left: Chilled Sockeye Salmon with Mascarpone, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Chile Salsa
(Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough)
Right: Salad of Locally Grown Chickpeas (Chef Holly Smith)
Marscapone Polenta
Creamy Mascarpone Polenta with Spinach and Southern Grits with a Vegetable Ratatouille
(combo plate by Chefs Jeff Mall and Josh Silvers)
Beef Cheeks
Wagyu Beef Cheek with Stuffed Squash Blossoms and Fresh Corn
(Chef Tamara Murphy)
Molten Chocolate
Molten Chocolate Cake - Chef unknown

ok I think this might be my longest blog post ever. Whew! Can't wait till next year!


  1. Great recap. LOVE your photos. It's nice to see pics of the dinner I missed. :-) Looked incredible.

  2. Great recap! I am glad you got there! I too love your photos! I am hlding a photo contest on my site, I would be honored if you would consider submitting something. We can all learn fro great photographers and this contest is really about learning.

    Heres the link if you are interested.

  3. Thanks for the heads up on the photo contest. I think I will enter. :)

  4. Awesome post. I love your food photography. Just curious - what URL did you use to check your flickr stream page rank? mine's a whopping N/A, and is a big fat zero. Meh.

    -=- Terence

    Oh, yeah, link back: :-)

  5. I'm not sure what the "official" one is, but this is the one I used: is the url I used for flickr. Looks like yours is 4. It doesn't work unless you put the / at the end of the url for some reason.

  6. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.
    SEO Conference