Eat Drink Blog 2013 (EDB13)
The conference was a platform for Australia wide bloggers to connect with each other and also take away some insight from the carefully selected guest panellists. Throughout the event local West Australian food and drinks were provided by an array of generous sponsors. The whole event was put together by a committee who volunteered their own time. The execution was nothing short of astounding and if you read some of the blog posts from the delegates you’ll see a lot of praise for this year’s committee. Before the conference there was a writing and photography competition to enter and free business cards arranged by Moo.
Topics covered throughout the day included the current state of blogging, food writing, food photography, food issues and the importance of eating local, mobile blogging, legal issues, ethics and working with public relation companies and opportunities arising from blogging.
The speakers were entertaining and intriguing; despite the heat they certainly motivated a thought and question process in my mind as the day unfolded.
Stage backdrop put together by European Foods
My thoughts from the two day event…..
BE SOCIAL AND COMMUNICATE
Attending an event on your own can be a little scary but luckily there were many other delegates feeling much the same.
There was a great deal of social activity between Twitter, business card swapping and meeting up outside of the event as well as during the refreshment breaks. Cameras, phones and Ipads were all welcomed at the conference and charging stations were even provided. Social media was a buzz and during the conference it was announced the EDB13 twitter page was ‘trending’.
Be social online and outside of the blog domain. Know who is attending and take the time to read through the blogs of the delegates. Post conference I am continuing through the list of blogs including those of the speakers and committee members, there is a lot of good content to read.
HONESTY, AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY
The current state of blogging panel consisted of three guests from ‘different sides of the fence’ a restaurant owner (Russell Blaikie), a successful blogger (Adam Roberts) and a journalist/blogger/internet consultant (Ed Charles).
Be witty and engage the audience but at the same time know who you are pitching too. It is essential to not try to sell the goods or experience but rather be open and honest. When I first started blogging I was not open as I would have liked to have been, I have a pretty highly shielded personality that always needs to be broken down but as I continue writing the real me surfaces and the flow on effect of reader engagement has followed too. The blog should be you and only you!
There is a black hole of meaningless information on the internet and being able to break through that barrier is challenging but not a completely lost journey.
‘I’m not a critic. I don’t want to be the authoritative voice. I like to tell the story of the meal with pictures.’ – Adam Roberts.
It never came to mind that when I walk into a restaurant, bar or cafe that there quite often stands years of hard work and dreams of passion behind the name. In one hour while we enjoy a meal or coffee can we really understand the context of the establishment and why it exists. I now think about this when I grab a coffee or meal.
THE TRUTH IS EATING LOCAL IS A LIFESTYLE CHOICE, NOT CONVENIENCE
Doesn’t it seem upside down that eating local in today’s time poor world is difficult? The reality is in a room full of foodies, we too struggle to find that balance.
Listening to Sophie Budd, Kiren Mainwaring and Paul Kimurray, I realised that I do have an interest on the subject. During the session we were reminded of the importance of local produce. If you have never paid any attention, start looking for the story behind the product. Start demanding for local and handmade. I guess as we continue living a life by convenience, supermarkets will only continue to dominate with mass produced imported products.
Perth has a great farmers market scene that has emerged over the past few years and this was ratified through the EDB13 discussions. Paul pointed out that supplying the demand can sometimes be difficult. We need more local producers. Sophie mentioned a group of Nonnas in North Perth growing garlic in their backyards but finding out this type of information is hard, word of mouth and staying in the loop seems to be the way to seek out the local produce.
My regular supermarket stocks local fruit and vegetables at the front of store. It may be a small start but those pallets disappear very quickly each and every week. I make the trek every now and then to the Subiaco Station Street Markets where parking is a pain and I have to line up in a queue to pay cash only. This may not sound very convenient at all but I come home with honey dew (never see it in the supermarket) fresh dark green spinach (it is always wilted in the supermarket) and a range of beautiful fresh produce at half the price of Woolworths located across the road.
DON’T SHOW WHAT THERE IS, SHOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
Simon Park from the heart of food took on us a visual journey about photographing a scene with meaning. I raise my hand up as being one to erratically snap pictures without looking at the scene before me and extracting from it a message or memory.
During his presentation Simon opened a photo of two rainbow layered cakes positioned in a way that they appeared to be a corridor and then he said what is this? No idea I thought. The next slide switched to a scene from Star Wars with I am guessing is a Tie-Fighter. Not everything has to be serious, mix it up a little bit and draw some inspiration from what makes you laugh.
FILTER COFFEE IS THE NEXT BEST THING
Five Senses brewed us coffee all day long and even gave us a detailed run down of three brewing methods – a plunger, a pourover and a Syphon.
The key to a good brew is obviously in the bean and the quality of that bean emanates largely from the growing methods. Knowing where the coffee beans originate from is a pretty important aspect as well as the process it undergoes before it is ground and brewed into a cup of coffee. Five Senses take a fairly detailed approach with their coffee, they are proactive in creating a quality product whilst maintaining community and environment values.
Leaving the conference with some great tips from the guys at Five Senses (another post to follow soon) I commenced to use filtered water in my stove top coffee, the difference in taste and texture is absolutely amazing. Just a simple switch in my morning routine and my coffee experience has been elevated.
Lunch is served by European Foods
WESTERN AUSTRALIAN PRODUCE IS SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF!
Wow! One of the benefits of attending these types of events is being introduced to local businesses and of course sampling the yummy products. It also means we can confidently and happily recommend products to family and friends.
Being a local Perth girl I have come across most of the amazing food and beverage sponsors but I had never heard of Little Sweet Baking before. In our goodie bags Little Sweet Baking gave all of the delegates a Brownie Mix. The easiest brownie I have ever made and I keep raving on about how good it tasted. I am buying a whole bunch of packets for Christmas stocking fillers.
Lunch spread was provided by European Foods
Chef services and event catering by Events Kitchen
Coffee all day long was provided by Five Senses Coffee
TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR BLOG
After lunch when we should have been succumbing to a food coma, the ethics and working with public relation companies segment instead had us tuned in and red alert. The heated debate between Phil Lees (Last Appetite and Social Media Manager for Tourism Victoria) and Cynthia Chew (Food Pornographer) had us all thinking about sponsorship and public relation invitations – to accept or not?
Does sponsorship dilute the quality of the content? Some say not if you maintain 100% editorial control and be authentic and true to yourself.
I was recently contacted to try a product, the product was something that I was interested in and excited to try and write about. The owner though, made a comment in a joking manner through the exchange of correspondence- ‘we know where you live’. What did this mean? Why did they take the time to even write it? This discouraged me a little bit, after this I felt I was simply just another person on their list. As bloggers we can say no, we do not have to take up everything that arrives in the inbox. At the same time the media and PR people are not mind readers, there does need to be transparent guidelines on the blog to avoid confusion. Be the boss of your blog.
As a blogger, sponsorship and PR events can expose you to situations that you may never encounter outside of your blog and it can also benefit your readers. I have been reading Cynthia’s New Zealand travel series and her visit has shown experiences that I would be hard pressed to find doing a quick google search unless I specifically knew about it. I love to cycle and the Takaro Trails Cycle tour is right up my alley, I have Pinterest her post to refer back too when I do travel to New Zealand. You could look at it as her reader, being me has benefited from the post where Cynthia cycled with Takaro Trails as a guest of Tourism New Zealand.
Post conference this topic has continued and there are some excellent posts by the delegates on their reflections.
Food Highlights of the day
DAY 2 – FRENCH PASTRY MASTERCLASS
On the Sunday I attended a French pastry masterclass at UWA with thirty other delegates. We watched chef Emmuanel Mollois, a well established French pâtissier create his favourite pastry – Choux. Emmanuel’s speciality is pastry and he was entertaining and open about his passion for patisserie as well as the transition of moving from France to Australia. He talked so much so that his offsider gently reminded him of the passing time, those two hours sure did fly!
Pointers from the masterclass with Chef Emmanuel:
- Keep things simple and use quality ingredients
- Emmanuel often refers back to a century old cookbook called Escoffier
- Scales are very handy, never guess and always refer to the recipe
- When making choux pastry use a wooden spoon and not a whisk as it incorporates too much air
- Time and patience is key to a good patisserie
- Use full cream milk instead of water for choux pastry, interesting
- Choux pastry can freeze for up to seven days
- Emmanuel has a new book called Pâtissier
- Emmanuel was the first to introduce the macaron to Perth
Choux pastry and marinated strawberries with monte carlo cream and crushed meringue
Thank you to the Eat Drink Blog Committee, the sponsors and UWA publishing!
Ai-Ling Truong, Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse
Matt O’Donohue, Abstract Gourmet
Br Whitton, Eatmeetswest
David Brady, Food Blarg
Chris Lau, Bon Viveur