2013 IACP San Francisco Conference, Recap

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Have you ever really wanted to do something and then talked yourself out of it? There are always reasons why something can’t be done, time, money, trepidations, money…and so it was for this IACP conference.  Actually it started back in photography school, I met fellow student Heather Gill, chef and amazing photographer.  We obviously had a common link and chatted.

Heather asked if I belonged to the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  I said no, I’m culinary but not a professional, certainly not a chef like she it.  Heather said it wasn’t just for chefs, they had specialty sections for writers (and bloggers), test kitchen people, food stylists and photographers, editors and publishers, etc.  Well huh, how about that.  I checked out their site and liked what I saw, I hemmed and hawed and then I noticed they had a sweet student rate so I jumped on it.

Back to the conference, I really wanted to go, who wouldn’t want to go to San Francisco!  Love that city.  But there I was hemming and hawing when Heather sent me a message, “are you going?” I said I wanted to, then I whined about the cost, blah, blah, blah.  Heather then offered to let me stay with her at her time share.  It seemed a sign, then I found out I could fly from Spokane for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than here and a friend agreed to keep my car and take me to the airport.  Well, it was getting to the point that I couldn’t say no.

And I went. And I had a good time. And I’m glad I went. The End!

I know a certain blogger that would kill me if I ended there!  There is so much to tell about the conference, and I took hundreds of photos.  I’ll try to be as succinct and non-gushing as I can.  My photos are a mix of what I shot and Instagram (I actually had some cool to share for once).

For the complete program, you can read it here. Our first day started with optional classes or tours.  I wanted to sign up for the Cook it, Shoot it class but it was full.  Fortunately I volunteered to be an event photographer, so I got to hang out, watch and take photographs.

This is Heather, she volunteered to help out with the class.  Yay, we got to do something together.

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After some brief photography overview, the students assembled a salad in Susan Burdick’s amazing food photography studio.

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Some of the beautiful props available, and look at this studio space, WOW!

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Did I mention that the instructor was Erin Gleesen from the amazing blog The Forest Feast a finalist of the 2013 Saveur Best Blog Award?

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During introductions, I was standing behind this lady (pictured below) and when I introduced myself she exclaimed “The Kitchen Witch! I love that blog”.  Turns out that she was none other than Jane Bonacci, blogger extraordinaire of The Heritage Cook!  I love that blog! Would you believe that I did a guest post last year for her (Doner Kebabs) and here she was, live and in the flesh.

Okay, I said I was not going to gush too much but I have to sing praises for Jane.  She adopted me, introduced me to scads of people! And then invited me out to dinner with her…more on thatlater.

(pssst, that’s Virgina Willis in the background cookbook author of “Bon Appetite y’all”, contributor to tons of magazines, she’s made TV appearances like Chopped and Martha Stewart, plus more).  When she walked in I said “who are you and why do I know your face”.  Sometimes I’m a little slow.

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The class was fabulous, we had all sorts of people there from bloggers, chef’s, photographers and people from test kitchen’s like these two girls who work in Alton Brown’s test kitchen!

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Later that day Heather and I went our separate ways, I went to the most amazing cookbook store ever, ever! I could have camped out there for days!  Omnivore was an eclectic place with something for everyone.  The best part?  The knowledge and personality of the owner, she was ahhhmazing! I bought a book on Lemons, surprise and an old lemon fruit crate sign, so she gave me a little lemon label she had and then packaged it all up and shipped it to my house.  Oh yeah, I also bought a book on bitters (you’ll see why soon).

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Then I went took off to “Build your own Bitter’s” class.  A class taught by Mark Bitterman! He’s the co-owner of The Meadow, a selmelier and author of the cookbook Salted. I was late…public transport, walking, I’m fat and out of shape…no further explanation required.

In this class we learned that bitters are to cocktails as salt is to food.  We tasted through a couple of dozen herbs, aromatic roots, fruits, florals and spices.  Then we made our own, I created a chai flavored bitter, it was so incredibly cool, I felt like a mad scientist!

All of this was done in another amazing space, Noel Barnhurst’s Photography Studio.

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That night was the Network mixer (sorry no photographs of the actual mixer).  Jane was one of the hostess with the mostest and introduced the photo competition.  The theme was “Real food in a virtual world”, my entry used a digitally produced (virtual) wood background with the earthy sprouted pesto, you can find that recipe here.  The photos were displayed throughout the conference and attendees got to vote for their own.  The winners were announced at the awards program, but I’ve marked them here for you (plus mine and Heather’s).

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Sunday Morning kicked off early with a food photographers and stylists interest section breakfast.  Followed by a paneled discussion comparing “Dirt to Digital”. The esteemed board consisted of:

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Here are some notable comments that I jotted down:

MB: honor the food (simple or complex)

TK: perfect what you have today

TK: cooking = ingredients (think about where you buy them) & execution (perfection)

PK: recipe development should be slow/precise

All: human interaction is the most important part of food

TK: food is about emotions

PK: (on the internet) there’s big data, if it’s bad data it doesn’t get you anywhere

TK: success = a great memory (food, atmosphere, experience)

MB: search for the pleasure (on the process of preparing food)

Then I had my “Pin with us! Food and the Power of Pinterest”,  On the panel was Enid Hwang, community manager, Pinterest. Irvin Lin, blogger, Eat the Love, Allison Long Lowerey, Editor, Cookinglight.com, Katie Parker, Senior Difital Food Editor, Meridith/Better Homes and Gardens and Colby Crab, communications manager, Interactive Advertising, Allrecipes.com.

This was one of classes that I felt that I could take the information and apply it immediately! The presentations were wonderful! There’s way too much to share but a few key points.  Label your images, Pinterest is a way of expressing yourself through curation, add Pinterest friendly descriptions i.e. “Lemon and thyme dressing, photo by XXXX http://xxxxxx”, put the photo you want pinned on top and add the plug in for “pin-it”.

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And then the Culinary Expo, Book and Blog Festival!

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Good Beer!

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Two cutest girls ever, kept running into them so I had to take their photos.

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I really wanted to win one of these.

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Beautiful eco-friendly disposable table wear (I nabbed a couple for food props) by Verterra.

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The beautiful Ferry Building and the end of my festival time.

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Of special note, La Cocina

La Cocina is a ground-breaking business incubator designed to reduce the obstacles that often prevent entrepreneurs from creating successful and sustainable small businesses.

We focus primarily on women from communities of color and immigrant communities.

Remember the Cabernet salt from my Coffee, Juniper Berry and Anise Crusted Venison Loin? This is the lady behind the salt, she also won an IACP award!

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Sal De Vida, Read Adriana’s story here.

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I’m killing myself, I’m only on day two and this post is probably excruciating long, I don’t even know if anyone is still reading after this…

More succinct Rhonda!

I took Jane up on her dinner offer after a little network thingy at the Ferry building which had delicious cocktails and food.

Jane had made reservations at Boulevard restaurant, local, seasonal and fresh.  The menu is made daily.  It was wonderful (instagram photo). At our table was also Selena Darrow, Senior test kitchen specialist, Rose Olsen of the Saskatchewan Turkey Producers marketing board, and one other very charming lady who does cooking with kids but I can’t remember her name…can you help Jane?

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Monday morning I kicked it off with “How to start a Conference” with speakers Jason Horn, co-founder FoodBlog South and John Craig, organizer, International Biscuit Festival.  Again lots of information here, I kind of was dreaming about a Montana (there would be about 10 of us) or a Rocky Mountain or Northwest Blogger Conference but, wow what a lot of work.

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I squeezed in a lunch with Heather and another classmate of mine.  We had lunch at The Slanted Door.  There wasn’t anything not to like about this place!  I also discovered that I liked oysters, good oysters, expensive oysters and the only reason I didn’t like oysters before was I obviously have a highly refined palate and only like the very best (kidding). 2013-04-08 12.39.59

Monday afternoon I found myself at the Round Robin: Pitch Perfect.  I had group sessions with: Chadwick Boyd, Owner-President L+D Enterprises, brand communications consulting AND Faith Durand, Executive Editor, TheKitchn.com (insert swoon). They gave us good tips on how to pitch a story and sell yourself.

After swooning over Faith and nearly groveling at her feet when I handed her my business card and then nearly dying when she said “The Kitchen Witch, I know that blog, you need to submit some stuff to us” I took my light headed self over to Wild Foods: The Stone Age Meets Sous Vide.  The talk was about foraging, hunting, and fishing.  In other words “eat your weeds” and go find your food.  The speakers were Connie Green, Wine Forest Wild Foods and Co-Author of The Wild Table, Hank Shaw (whom I’ve been a long time fan of) author of Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, plus his new book Duck, Duck, Goose and blogger of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook and Tama Matsuoka Wong, forager; Restaurant Daniel; co-author Foraged Flavor.

There was so much information and I wanted to get lots of pictures but there was a meeting scheduled in the same room right afterwards so no time…but I ate weeds, fondled and touched mushrooms, oh I even ate some fir tree pine needles.  Most notably we had part of an Ice Cream sandwich made from Candy Cap mushrooms, these mushrooms taste just like maple syrup, maple syrup on steroids that is. Instagram photo.

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That evening I went to a little pizza get together at Williams and Sonoma hosted by Casey Benedict who’s LLC is called Kitchen Witch.  Ha another Kitchen Witch, but of course I’m THE Kitchen Witch.  You may be familiar with Taste Stopping “feasting on seconds” a site that posts other sites rejected photos. Or how about Eat, Write Retreat? Or maybe Kitchen Play? Another incredible person.

The final day Heather and I played hooky.  Although I’ve been to San Francisco before (for the FoodBuzz conference (god rest their soul) I posted about it here, here and here. I didn’t get down to Fisherman’s Wharf or to Ghirardelli square.

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I bought this way cool one of a kind bowl and a birthday gift for my sister (shhh, don’t tell).

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We had lunch at Boudin’s.  Yes that’s right, Heather bought one loaf of sourdough bread and we split it.  That’s it, carb over load.  With all the walking we had been doing all week, no worries about gaining weight!

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You can watch the bakers through a window preparing the bread and making some of the animal shapes.

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After our adventures Heather went off to catch a class and I headed back to the hotel, I needed to pack and get ready for the big awards ceremony.

The awards ceremony ended up being one of my favorite events and not because of the awards handed out (see the list here), it was meeting Joan.  Joan sat next to me at the ceremony and I immediately liked her.  I can’t explain why but we just connected.  Joan is an editor and California native.  She said something to me during the ceremony that put the fire to a spark of an idea I had (can’t share yet).  She also found out that I had a passion for lemons.

Would you believe that she sent me a box of citrus, mostly lemons?  And most of them she grew herself.  She sent me ones from an 80 year urban rescue lemon tree! She just touched my heart and my taste buds! Instagram photo.

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In the end, that’s what this conference was really about, it’s not about going to a fabulous city, or bringing home swag, or all the education you get.  It’s about the people you meet, the connections you make and the friendships that develop through our common passion of food.

Speaking of people, I’m going to give a shout out to several people I met but didn’t have the space in this post to give all the great details:

  • My one thing on my bucket list was to meet Denise Vivaldo, Heather knows her and I got to meet her, not only that but I got hugs and kisses.  She’s a fun personality!
  • Sydne George, food writer Great Falls Tribune…yes, my home girl who I didn’t meet until we got to SF.
  • Meghan Erwin, food stylist and recipe developer (and beautiful I might add)
  • David West, owner of Nostrana (Italian food restaurant in Portland, Oregon) I asked him to open a restaurant here in Great Falls!
  • Iris Richardson, food photographer who had the coolest ipad set up ever.
  • Debbie Koenig, author and blogger Parents Need To Eat Too and fellow red head.
  • Mary Jane Miller, culinary consulting
  • Patricia Penzey Erd, owner of  The Spice House small chain…please come to Great Falls!
  • Andrea Lynn, food writer, personal chef, recipe developer, cookbook author
  • Sarene Wallace, freelance food writer and contibuting editor to 805 Living
  • Anne Zimmerman, writer she’s done several books about M.F.K. Fisher an extraordinary and prolific food writer
  • Annelies Zijderveld, Online Community Manager for Attune Foods which makes McGyver’s favorite breakfast cereal, Uncle Sam.
  • Michelle Stern of What’s Cooking with Kids, a certified green mobile cooking school for children
  • Christy Rost (who’s a hoot!) TV Cheff, PBS Host, Cooking Teacher, Cookbook Author
  • “Mac” McDonald who served up some of his mighty fine wine and gave me a big huge and made my aching feet feel better.  Winemaker/Owner of Vision Cellars.
  • Sheila Thomas, Publishing consultant for Favorite Recipes Press
  • Mary Margaret Andrews, Director of Marketing & Distribution Sales, Southwestern Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Francois Villeneuve, Freelance Food Writer. Francois recently posted some writing tips picked up from IACP.
  • John Schuller, Senior Account Executive, representing California Ripe Olives (they reposted one or two of my recipes…I adore olives.
  • Jacqueline Pham, blogger/author of Pham Fatale
  • Beth A Lee, food writer, communications consultant and blogger of OMG! Yummy
  • Ryan Smith, Principal of The Spinning Cook and the app Spinning Meals an app that does your menu planning and makes your grocery list based on your recipe favorites (BTW I love his title)
  • Darcy Kochis, Marketing for the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission.  I think she was in every class I took.
  • Maureen Abood of Rose Water & Orange Blossoms, Modern musings of Lebanese cuisine and beautiful photography to boot.
  • Antonia Allegra, coach, writer, lecturer, launch specialist, culinary professional (no website)
  • Patty Catalano, culinary researcher & recipe developer of Be Square Productions (Alton Brown’s test kitchen)
  • Monika Friis-Jespersen, Product and Marketing Consulting…she came from Sweden.
  • June Jacobs, Culinary educator, chef, consultant, writer, hornist (yes, hornist) of Festivals.com
  • Marie Simmons, teacher and author (Taste of Honey, The Good Egg and more cookbooks)
  • Mara Jernigan, General Manager of Belcampo Belize (I want to go please!)
  • Alice M. Hart, food stylist and Montana lover!  Also IACP Food Stylist of the Year!
  • Kate McDermott, Pie cooker expert and I mean top of the line expert!  Who lives near my hometown and who is coming to Paws Up in Montana to do a pie class in October, yay!
  • Linda Oliver, Manager, Culinary Services ConAgra Foods/Ready Set Eat.com
  • Lara K. Nixon, Bitters Guru of Bad Dog Bar Craft.  Super cool, we hung out some and had a beer together
  • Catie Baumer Schwilb, chef, actress, amateur farmer, blogger of Pitchfork Diaries.  Another enjoyable person who I had a beer with and hung out a bit with.  I think she liked me, unless she was just acting…
  • And finally Casey Barber, Editor, food writer and recipe developer, and super nice human being!  She has the site Good.Food.Stories. and just published a fun cookbook Classic Snacks, Made from Scratch.
  • I almost forgot, I met Felicia, displaced Floridian making a home in Colorado, Dietician/Nutritionist and expert photo bomber! She is in 18 of my Cook it, Shoot it! photos in some fashion or another.

I have also decided that I do not make a very good editorial photographer.  Guess I better stick to food!

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21 Responses to 2013 IACP San Francisco Conference, Recap

  1. Mary Ladd April 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Enjoyable read. Great images. Nice to hear your perspective.

    • Giggles April 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      It was a great time, Plan on going next year also.

  2. Chef Debbi April 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Wow, great recap! I had a fabulous time as well, reading your post makes me miss being there and with all my friends!

    • Giggles April 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      While I was writing this, I was there for a little while. It was a wonderful time.

  3. Janice April 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Wow! Rhonda, fabulous post. Hung on to every word of it. What a fabulous conference. I’m beyond interested. Thank you.

    • Giggles April 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Janice, next year it’s in Chicago, it would be great if you decided to join and go!

      • Janice April 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

        I’ll look into doing so. . .

  4. Alice Hart April 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Fantastic recap of the IACP San Francisco Convention! It was great meeting you as well.
    Hugs from Hollywood.

    • Giggles April 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Alice, thanks for stopping by and reading my recap, it was fantastic meeting you.

    • Giggles April 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks Alice!

  5. Casey@Good. Food. Stories. April 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    I cannot believe you managed to write all of this down! That whole week was a blur for me… but I really wish I was back in SF eating food, drinking beer, and playing hooky. See you in Chicago next year, right??

    • Giggles April 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Casey, if I didn’t have pictures and the conference book I would have been, like, duh. You bet you’ll see me next year.

  6. Gloria R April 27, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    It sounds like you had a marvelous time and got so much out of it. I was fascinated with your pictures…absolutely fantastic! 🙂

    • Giggles April 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks Gloria, it was a marvelous time.

  7. Heather April 27, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Such a great post!!! I loved that you got to come to SF with me. You my dear are an amazing photographer as well!! Thank you for coming.

    • Giggles April 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

      I’m so glad you talked me into it. Looking forward to next year!

  8. Debra April 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    What a great time. I am envious to say the least. I know what you mean about talking yourself out of stuff, but the stars seemed to be aligned for you for this trip. Thank you for the recap. Thomas Keller??? OMG!!!!

  9. Irvin May 9, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    Hey great recap! Great meeting you at IACP. Sorry we didn’t have a chance to chat more. I’m glad our Pinterest panel was informative.

    • Giggles May 9, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      It was great meeting you, it was certainly a busy time. I’ll be looking for you in Chicago!

  10. Deanna Segrave-Daly August 9, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    I just stumbled upon this – I should have hitched myself to you for the conference this year!! Loved the recap.

    • Giggles August 14, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks Deanna, hopefully I’ll see you next year in Chicago?