This past weekend, I hosted Food Blog Forum Orlando, our first blogging event in my home state of Florida. Putting on an event is no small task, not only is there a ton of event planning and management work to be done, but there’s also something called, uh, teaching involved in these blogging seminars.

me and Julie from Alkaline Sisters who came all the way from Canada

No, it’s not just one big party (though we sure did party the night before and the night after the seminar). The main purpose of these food blogging events is to spend an entire day teaching blogging, tech and photography skills and ideas to an audience hungry to learn.

Special speakers Jeff Houck of the Tampa Tribune and Heather McPherson of Orlando Sentinel joined us to speak about how to get on the food editor’s radar; Pete from Izea school us on SEO and my dear friend Lindsay Landis of Purr Design walk us through web design and usability best practices.

Lindsay is the designer behind Steamy Kitchen website and logo and I just adore her and her husband Taylor. I’ll be honest though, I do have mixed feelings about “sharing” my beloved and talented web designer. The more clients she has the less time for me! 😉 Well, she did so well in her presentation that I think she scored 20 new projects.

Which means that Steamy Kitchen probably won’t be revamped any time soon.

Which probably is a good thing, since I just spent all weekend lecturing that “There’s comfort in consistency.”

Lindsay in center, husband Taylor behind her

Since Diane and Todd were unavailable to come, I was lucky enough to lure a special someone to come teach food photography and styling.

Can you tell who it was?

Oh, maybe this angle?

How about now?

It was Helene of Tartelette!

We kicked it off in high style at our opening party that Whole Foods Market graciously and generously hosted. They simply know how to party in style, with a custom creme brulee station.

And what looked like a pretty wedding cake:

Were we celebrating something I didn’t know about!? Who’s gettin’ married at Food Blog Forum!?

I scootched over to the other side of the cake, saw the piece missing — and thought it was a wedding cheesecake.

SURPRISE! It really was a cheesecake….a Brie cheese cake sponsored by KerryGold.

There’s only one person in the world I know who I can call the night before and say, “Hey wanna go to Mexico with me? We leave tomorrow!” and she’d be packing her bags before we even hang up. That’s Rachelle!

Whole Foods also lavished us with wine – we had these itty bitty wine glasses that held like 4 ounces of wine. The bartender probably thought I was such a lush, as I ended up coming back to him for a refill ever 5 minutes.

Edit: Scott’s version: “No, the glasses were 6 ounces and you lost track after the 21st refill.”

Oh. Was that why I wanted to do karaoke in the middle of Whole Foods’ cheese department?

Okay, so we partied well that night, but the very next morning…we started Food Blog Forum – the learning section-  fast and furious.

Everyone was listening so intently!

I even got Scott to join in on the teaching….I love hearing him speak.

Until the moment he started telling the audience how large my butt is.

Just kidding. I have NO IDEA what he was talking about. Apparently, part of Scott’s public speaking routine involves massive boobie grabbing hand gestures to illustrate his point.

Behind Scott is the table packed of goodies we gave away, courtesy of KitchenAid,, America’s Test Kitchen, KerryGold, Le Creuset, West Bend, Chicago Metallic, EdgeWare and Calphalon. Almost everyone walked away with a prize.

All these lovely lovely food bloggers. Don’t they look like college students?

The after party was even more fun – McCormick and Schmicks seafood restaurant went all-out. They closed their entire restaurant for us! YOU ROCK McC&S! They fed us their house sangria and sushi.

I won’t scare you. After 6 large glasses of sangria and 4 plates of sushi, this photo definitely was better in black & white instead of color.

I just want to say that Food Blog Forum Orlando was just amazing. Big thanks to Julie and Dawn for organizing the entire event (I know from the looks of it I just showed up to drink and party….heh heh). I got to meet so many fab food bloggers. I got to share some of the stuff that I learned in the past 4 years of blogging. Best of all, I made 100 new friends.

Love ya!

p.s. Food Blog Forum is headed to Nashville October 8th hosted by Lindsay! I’ll have more details soon.
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