{Event Recap} Big Summer Potluck

Ever since I entered the food blogging world a little over a year ago, I’ve been so amazed by the entire food blogging community. From the fantastic food bloggers to the incredible events that take place throughout the year, there are so many unbelievable people, events, companies and opportunities in this wonderful world of food.

I’ve read so many recap posts that were beautifully written by others who have attended food blogging events and as I read each any every word I tried to live vicariously through them. I always thought it would be so amazing to attend one of those events to meet and speak with other food bloggers and learn about their experiences. I knew that being able to do so would only help me grow as a food blogger.
As I sat and read post after amazing post from other bloggers about the events that they attended, I began wishing and hoping that an event would come to my area…and that’s when I received an e-mail from Maggy of Three Many Cooks containing an invitation to the Big Summer Potluck. Maggy, Pam (her Mom), Sharon (her sister) and Erika from Ivory Hut decided to collaborate and create a food blogging event for the east coast food bloggers. 
Immediately after reading the invitation I responded with a very excited “yes”…and then, with butterflies in my stomach, I began counting down the days to the event. Since it was going to be my first food blogging event, I was both nervous and excited because I had no idea what to expect.
The night before the event I made batch after batch of Doughnut Muffins, re-reading the recipe over and over again to make sure I added all of the correct ingredients…let’s just say that baking for other food bloggers was quite intimidating. Thoughts kept popping into my head…”Will they like these?”, “There are amazing bakers who are attending this event, what will they think?”, “Did I add the sugar into the bowl?…oh crap…I did…wait…I didn’t…wait…I’m crazy, of course I added the sugar.”
At 5:00 a.m. on Saturday I met my first food blogger since she was my carpooling buddy for the day. Kara from Kara’s Kitchen was such a sweetheart and was a nice glimpse into what I was going to experience the rest of the day. We chatted, shared our experiences with food blogging and before we knew it we arrived at the house of Three Many Cooks…an hour early. Let’s just say we were slightly embarrassed…well, make that very embarrassed. My nerves were quickly put at ease when Maggy came running out to the car and gave us a warm welcome.
Before I knew it, I began meeting food blogger after food blogger. I almost had to pinch myself…I was finally putting faces to Twitter avatars and blogs. These people, many who I have talked to ever since I started blogging, were there…in real life…I could not believe it. There I was, chatting with them, sharing my experiences, listening to their advice and adopting the name “Doughnut Muffin Girl” since my treats seemed to be a huge hit (I did add the sugar!).
After we filled up on breakfast goodies, coffee and tea, we sat down for our first session. Pam Anderson, a monthly food columnist for USA Weekend, author of countless cookbooks and a weekly blogger with her two daughters on Three Many Cooks shared her experience and knowledge in recipe development.
Next on the agenda was a cooking demonstration by Abby Dodge, a widely respected baking expert and popular food writer and instructor. Her step-by-step instructions on how to make Orange-Scented White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse was amazing to watch and the end result looked absolutley beautiful and delicious.
Being the recipe expert that she is, Pam spoke during the third session and provided wonderful insight and suggestions on how to title, list ingredients and write straight-forward instructions for recipes. The side-by-side comparison of how to write a recipe was very helpful and enlightening.
Melissa DeMayo took the stage next to cover styling for food photography. Originally a pastry chef, she has spent the last 17 years as a food and prop stylist and her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York magazine, as well as on trucks and national brand packaging. She brought countless props and gave a very thorough and helpful presentation on how to properly style food to make it look great and achieve a fantastic photograph.
Right before lunch, we enjoyed a food photography and post processing session with Erika from Ivory Hut. With her years of experience, she shared in-depth information on how to work with a camera and lighting, as well as tips and tricks on how to get the most out of photos during post processing.
After we enjoyed delicious sandwiches, chips, fruit and refreshing drinks on the deck, we sat through a presentation given by Jason Fox and Christina Reilly from Auritt Communications Group. They discussed with us ways to enrich our blogs with culinary videos. This session was all about bouncing ideas off each other, as well as asking questions in an effort to better our blog content as well as help the communications group provide beneficial services to food bloggers.
Last but certainly not least was the keynote address by Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life. I still can’t believe I met her, hugged her, chatted with her and listened to her generously share her experiences on how she grew her blog. She was such a sweet, fun and down-to-earth woman who was so inspiring and motivating. To listen to her talk about what she believes in, as well as her incredible advice to other bloggers, was such a privilege.

As the day was drawing to an end, we chatted over delicious sugar-filled treats and quickly moved on to cheese and crackers as we clapped and cheered on the winners of the amazing giveaways provided by the unbelievable sponsors of the event: KitchenAid, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Spice House, New West Knifeworks and Cypress Grove Chevre.
Sadly, after a day filled with fabulous food bloggers, informative sessions and delicious food, it was time to head home so we all said our “See you soons”, grabbed our swag bags filled with Pam Anderson’s new cookbook, as well as items from other sponsors, and headed to our cars. The entire way home, Kara and I chatted non-stop about how truly wonderful the day had been.

A huge thank you to Maggy, Pam and Sharon from Three Many Cooks, as well as Erika from Ivory Hut. The event you put together was unforgettable. A million hugs are being sent out to all of the speakers and the information they shared. Lastly, thank you to all of the sponsors for their generous contributions.

I can’t even begin to describe how happy and fortunate I feel to have attended such an amazing event. I met so many wonderful people and I look forward to staying in touch with them as we all continue to support one another in this wonderful world of food blogging.

A million thank yous over and over again…I can’t wait for the next event!

* All of the photos found in this post were taken by Jen from How To: Simplify except for the group photo which was taken by Erika from Ivory Hut. For more photos of the event, be sure to stop by this photography set provided by Erika from Ivory Hut.

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  1. It was so great to meet you. Your blog is stunning as well as the photography! You are even more sweet than I could have ever imagined. I hope our paths cross again in the near future.


  2. Wonderful post! It seems many of us had a lot in common besides food – never having been to an event, and nervousness! :-)

    It was lovely to meet you and I am making those muffins soon.

  3. I'm so glad to have finally met you after all our e-mailing! You are even sweeter in person and I only wish we had had more time to chat. Also, I'm totally craving those muffins again and MUST make them…so thanks for posting that recipe! ;-)

  4. Hey Jen:
    Great wrap-up! By the way, we just launched the site we were telling you about during our post-lunch talk: sprucetv.com. Take a look and let us know what you think. Next week, we'll be posting a video we did with Bobby Flay on the secrets of his success.

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