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Take 2-What I really took away from the International Food Blogger Conference

The Gluten Free Bloggers

The Gluten-Free Blogging Crew (most of us, at least)

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (and me)

The Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef (and little ole me)

My previous post about the International Food Blogger Conference was a summary of all of the wonderful events that happened during the weekend.  This final piece, however, is what I truly took away from the entire experience.

For me, this weekend was about staying true to my passion. It was about reaching out to the community beyond my blog.  And most of all, it was about friendships.

On Friday evening, we had the incredible honor of a presentation from Morgan Spurlock, Academy Award Nominee for his documentary Super Size Me.  This man is an extraordinary public speaker.  He is. Engaging. Entertaining. Hilarious. Inspiring.

The point that resonated for me from his presentation was the very thing that seemed to resonate true for me throughout the entire conference.  Morgan feels that the world of food-blogging has now reached new heights.  Food bloggers, have a very strong and influential voice. We need to take our words out of our computer screens and place them into actions.  We should make the changes in our communities that we speak so passionately about in our blogs.  We should bring people together who are as passionate as we are.  We should teach about the benefits of such things as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).   And we need to encourage people to eat together as a family. As Morgan advocates, the more that we can do this by reaching outside of our blogs, the more effective changes we will see.

There are some bloggers who have already done an exceptional job at this.  Shauna Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef, has been a leading voice in this action. And on Sunday morning, when she and Alex Jamieson, author of Living Vegan for Dummies and The Great American Detox Diet (and, incidentally, also Morgan Spurlock’s wife), sat in front of the attendees at IFBC, they helped to resonate this point with all of us.  They emphasized that blogging is not about being the coolest kid on the internet block.  It is not about having the most visits to our sites.  Nor is it about making the most (or any) money from them.  It is about pouring our passion into our words and then putting them into action.  Staying true to ourselves and staying transparent is the most effective way to do this.  Worrying about the Search Engines or writing for Keywords is not.

This was what I took away from this weekend.

Lunch from Gluten-Free Girl

Shauna is an exemplary example of this.  She is passionate about love, food, and family and how the three culminate together.  She and Danny love bringing people together around beautiful meals.  In fact, food plays a major role in their own love-story.  It is the story told in their new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes (to be released in September). And she is doing a wonderful job at leading a movement to bring families together around tables filled with whole fresh ingredients.

She and Danny, and their little sous chef Lucy, did just that for the gluten-free bloggers at this conference.  Aside from going above and beyond to make sure that we were all more than well-fed by Kaili McIntyre, owner of Wheatless In Seattle, and her amazing crew, Shauna and her family prepared an incredible lunch for us on Sunday.

The Menu – each recipe from their soon-to-be-released book:

Gluten Free Salad

Greens with Fresh Figs, Blue Cheese, and a Bacon Vinaigrette

Gluten Free Pasta with Salmon

Fresh pasta with lemons, capers, olives, pine-nuts, aside an aamazing prosciutto-wrapped salmon

Gluten Free French Bread

The most divine fresh crusty gluten-free french bread

Gluten Free Berry Peach Cobbler

An Amazing Berry Peach Cobbler - just looks at those drops of juices!

It was wonderful.  It was prepared with the same passion that they prepare all of their meals.  It made our “bellies happy”, as Danny Ahern is fond of doing and the exact reason he loves being a chef.  And we were so honored that they went through such efforts to do this for us.

So, this is, in essence, also a heartfelt thank you note to Shauna, Danny, and Little Miss Lucy.  Thank you for the love and energy your poured into this meal.  Thank you for going above and beyond to make it happen.  Thank you for making the gluten-free and allergy-free community so much a part of this weekend.

On this note, I am brought to the final point of what I got out of this weekend.  The friendships.  The friendships that had started long before this weekend.  These relationships were culminated in real-life meet-ups and connections throughout the weekend.  It was touching to be amongst so many women that I had, for so long, only connected to through our words, and through our shared experiences.  To now culminate these relationships into real-life was perhaps the best part of the entire weekend for me.

In closing, today I am giving you all a challenge.  Leave a comment below telling me how many nights a week, on average, you eat together as a family.  The challenge part of this is to increase that number by at least one by the end of this week.  And, if you can increase it by more, than you will earn your gold badge star for the week, for sure!

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