Sun, strEAT food, smiles and sensational speakers; these words sum up the three day weekend that was #FBC15. Clasping goodie bags crammed with products from familiar favourites and new brands alike, cheery attendees left Chiswick House and Gardens feeling inspired, well-fed and full of the sense of community that FBC stands for.
To accommodate our growing community from the 25-27th September in the nation’s capital, FBC’s main events were held in the impressive Burlington Pavilion of Chiswick House and Gardens. Our chosen theme for this year’s conference was ‘for(a)ging a prosperous future’ and, accordingly, many of its sessions focused on the future of blogging and media. Moreover, for the first time, we hosted open-floor conversations to allow everyone in attendance further opportunity to share, discuss and debate differing points of view.
News of #FBC15, our seventh anniversary, reached over half a million impressions on Twitter alone in less than a month following the event!
This year’s strEAT party, in the early autumn sun, continued to serve as an ideal opportunity for traders to interact with an increasingly important target audience and share their passion for great food.
With a varied line-up to cater for everyone’s tastes and preferences, we were joined for the full weekend by @gloriousfoods, whose scrumptious soups, made with authentic global flavours, kept bloggers coming back for more; also by @thepandanbakery, who genially shared their delicious Malaysian inspired cakes and bakes, and @LaBelleA_UK, who launched their mouthwatering ‘pop up dinning room’ and cookery demonstrations.
In between these tasty chef at home experiences, the eagerly anticipated @salthouse1874 showcased how to cook meltingly tender steak on a block of Himalayan sea salt and @theathenianuk served up super souvlaki, quickly garnering lengthy queues of enthusiastic bloggers wanting a taste.
Meanwhile, @colombiakitchen served up authentic and gluten-free empanadas and patacones, which won everyone over to Colombian street food, @mamasitas_uk impressed all with their contemporary Mexican tacos and @Tiberilondon brought their full flavour and Barcelona munchies to the party.
For the vegans and non-vegans among us, vegan street trader @RupertsStreet served up tasty plant based curries and tagines, while @CoconutChilli dished up lamb, chicken, shrimp and root vegetable curries and @wholesomebakes presented a selection of dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, delicious and gorgeous cakes for everyone to sample!
Fresh, authentic handmade Italian pasta was prepared for us in front of our very eyes by @crazyforpasta. Meanwhile, @omdhotdogs dished up their signature hot dogs with pulled pork and BBQ sauce and @Bit_Burgers showed off their amazing rock and roll steamed bourbon burgers.
Unsurprisingly popular were the folks from @churrosgarcia1, who introduced bloggers to the wonders of Spanish churros, and @rollnrock_UK, whose Vietnamese rolls with fresh ingredients and plenty of hot sauce got everyone abuzz.
We were also thrilled to be joined by @EatChiswickW4 on the Sunday, who showcased @dukeofdelhi with their incredibly moreish handmade Bombay mixes and Bombay mix chocolate bars; @BolFoods with their globally inspired naturally tasty food; @QuirkyBars with a fully stock bicycle bar; and @SlowBreadCo, whose freshly baked bread went down a doughy storm.
With all that delicious food, some drinks were certainly called for and, luckily, @EatandM were on hand with their fine wine Carus Vini and Atlantis Terre di Sardegna produced from their own Vermentino grapes and @MASSIStea rose to the challenge of quenching our thirst with a revitalising iced Tey® with honey and beautiful garnishes of rose petals and citrus.
Brand partners swooped in to connect with bloggers in the breaks. @pressdcoffee and @JoesTeaCo began our mornings with convenient coffee on the go and proper organic whole leaf teas; @ScheckterEnergy and @Sibberi took refreshments to another level with the world’s first 100% organic energy drink and pure birch tree sap. Meanwhile, a help-yourself fridge was stocked with the fabulous range of delicious, nutritious food, lovingly prepared by hand from @SoulfulFoodCo, ready for bloggers to take home and sample.
Yet, while the weekend was certainly about eating, drinking, connecting with brands, catching up with old friends and bringing the community together, it was just as much about honing new skills and furthering the blogs, hobbies and careers of those committed to sharing their passions with others online.
Internationally acclaimed speakers, blogging royalty and rising talents contributed to a series of sessions throughout the weekend. Proceedings were kicked off on the Friday in a blogging 101 lab with Emma Gardner (@poireschocolat) and David Frenkiel of Green Kitchen Stories (@gkstories); a food and recipe writing lab with Sophie Grigson (@sophiescookery); and a food photography and styling lab with William Reavell (@betterpics) and Tara Sura (@forkanddram).
After the first strEAT party of the weekend, with a welcome by Founder Bethany Kehdy (@bethanykd), excitement in the Burlington Pavilion was palpable as we welcomed Claudia Roden to the mic to discuss her life researching food. Some astute bloggers had come laden with books written by Claudia Roden, many of which were a couple of decades old, which she graciously signed after giving her talk.
Some nitty gritty sessions followed from the likes of Indy Neogy (@Indy_Neogy), who discussed trend-setting; Alysoun Owen of Bloomsbury Self-Publishing (@Writers_Artists), who revealed the how-tos of self-publishing; Aspire Photography Training (@aspirecpt), who talked about networking and building strong business relationships; and the tax doctors (@nlpca), who helped us get clear on where bloggers stood in regards to taxation.
Panel discussions are always eagerly anticipated by the FBC community and this year we welcomed Sasha Wilkins (@LibertyLndnGirl) of Liberty London Girl and Kerstin Rodgers (@MsMarmitelover) for an unsugar-coated discussion on the future of blogging. This was followed by a balanced conversation on creating top-notch written, visual and video content with Ben Ebbrell (@Bebbrell) and David of Green Kitchen Stories (@gkstories).
Saturday, another jam-packed day, began with a food styling and photography lab with Lucy Harvey, Emily Jonzen and Ria Osborne; @officialorama held an interactive presentation on the mechanics of vlogging and social reach; and editor Mary-Denise Smith (@CrumbsnRubble) stepped forward to lead an inspirational lab on writing and copyediting.
Saturday’s morning labs were followed by an informative Pinterest 101 talk with Lizzie Sibley (@Pinterest), who addressed driving traffic and building a brand. Next, Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl (@LibertyLndnGirl), Kerstin Rodgers of Ms Marmite Lover (@MsMarmitelover) and Helen Best-Shaw of Fuss Free Flavours (@FussFreeHelen) took part in a rounded two-parter great big industry ethics debate. Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl (@LibertyLndnGirl) later returned to contribute to the discussion on establishing creative revenue streams, brought to bloggers by GourmetAds with Alison of Gourmet Ads (@gourmetads). FBC speaker alumna Urvashi Roe (@BotanicalBaker) also contributed to this discussion and interacted with the audience to share other bloggers’ personal experiences on this subject.
Saturday sessions were brought to an end with an intimate discussion with David of Green Kitchen Stories (@gkstories), who dived into the behind the scenes of his award-winning blog and how he and Luise stay creative under stress and manage to strike a work-life balance. A valuable analytics lab was held simultaneously with web and social media guru Monica Shaw (@monicashaw). Monica usefully discussed goal setting, content performance, SEO and social media management.
Sunday saw plenty more opportunities for food bloggers to learn from the best with William Reavell (@betterpics) giving a lab session on post production with Photoshop and Lightroom software and, with popular demand, Mary-Denise Smith (@CrumbsnRubble) holding another interactive writing and copyediting lab!
After the strEAT party brunch, bloggers were treated to some more nitty gritty sessions. They learnt how to share, inspire and earn with Filo (@GetFilo) and became au fait with analytics thanks to Monica Shaw (@monicashaw), branding thanks to Hélène Eberhardt of Croque-Maman (@CroqueMaman) and content planning thanks to FBC speaker alumna Urvashi Roe (@BotanicalBaker).
This year’s sum of sessions was completed with a rounded discussion on working in the industry and price setting with Lucy Hancock of Storm PR (@stormcomUK), Salt Productions and Sally Whittle (@swhittle), who shone light on working with clients via PR agencies and ASA laws on disclosure. Lastly, David Bez (@saladpride) inspirationally addressed turning a food blog into an international book.
Yes, all of that thought-provoking goodness was crammed into a whirlwind of a long weekend, the cherry on top of which was the #FBC15 goodie bag. FBC goodie bags are famous for weighing attendees down as they make their way home at the end of the weekend, only to propel them into their kitchens to get cooking with a range of high quality ingredients.
This year’s goodie bags were no different – hefty bags, crammed with ingredients and other tremendous culinary items. Luckily, our proud sponsor, Addison Lee (@AddisonLeeCabs), offered all attendees a promotion on travel to and from the venue so lugging goodie bags back home on public transport fortunately became unnecessary since they could be ridden with in style.
We were delighted to connect bloggers with brands that share our passion for quality. Goodie bags this year included ingredients and products from @BarleycupUK, @BARU_CHOC, @BlogosphereM, @citycruises, @ClearspringUK, @eatfirst, @FentimansLtd, @LoveYourBlender, @maraseaweed, @Marriages_flour, @Microplane, @PetersYard, @PinterestUK, @Peppermongers and @Salthouse1874, @properpops, @ringtons, @silikomart, @steenbergs and @DrinkZEO, who all took advantage of this hands on way to promote their products, as bloggers returned home ready to fill the spheres of social media with Tweets, Instagrams and blog posts with all their lovely goodies!
You might also be pleased to learn that it’s not too late to enter the #FBC15 giveaways. Tep Wireless is providing 10 free wireless wifi handsets to #FBC15 attendees to connect you on your next journey and they’ve made it really easy! Full details to enter are here. Additionally, GLORIOUS! would love for you to enter their blogger challenge, in partnership with Foodies 100, to showcase your creative writing and photography. The #GloriousAdventure is looking for somebody passionate about food and travel, to embark on the foodie trip of a lifetime to the vibrant Indian street food capital of Mumbai. Full details to enter are here.
And finally, we’d like to say a massive thank you to Chiswick School (@ChiswickSchool) and the coolest venue and security team ever (@chiswickhouse) for all of their hands-on support, to our brand partners and strEAT feeders for their very generous participation and to all of our enthusiastic volunteers.
Of course we’d also like to say thank you to our new attendees and alumni, who are the core of the conference. Thank you for choosing to participate in FBC, for sharing your energy and passion with the blogging community and for making the trek – we are truly honoured. We go away this year, grateful be part of a positive, forward-thinking and encouraging community. See you next year!
Discover what other attendees, volunteers, speakers, partners and traders experienced below:
“Best conference I’ve attended in a while” – Lynn of Bread on Butter
“FBC is a great place to meet other bloggers, and to learn how to grow your blog, partner with brands and analyse your traffic.” Louise M of Using Mainly Spoons
“It was my first time at Food Blogger Connect and I enjoyed connecting with other bloggers, having the time out to think about blogging and eat some incredible food!” – Anonymous
“It was an interesting weekend, with lots to take in! The best part was the people. The fellow food bloggers!” Lisa of United Cakedom
“This was an event where you needed to arrive hungry if you wanted to try everything that is on offer! There was food suitable for everyone, whether you are a fan of hotdogs with as many onions as possible, roasted squash and sweet potato with fluffy quinoa, or you have a huge sweet tooth, in which case Pandan Bakery had that covered!
Finally, to round this awesome weekend off, everyone was given a goodie bag full of gifts and tasty treats! I had been told that The Food Bloggers Conference had a reputation for handing out huge goodie bags, and this was no lie! I am so glad I didn’t have far to walk, because it was pretty darn heavy.
To sum up, the weekend was amazing and I will definitely be returning next year!” – Kimberly of A Health Matter
“Being involved with the behind the scenes of FBC has been year after year a brilliant experience. Understanding how events are put together gives you so much more appreciation for the end product, being closely involved with the speakers is a privilege and being part of a fab team has definitely grown a deeper sense of community for what can be an insular blogging industry!” – Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures
“It was an absolute joy to work with both of you. Your passion and commitment to FBC is infectious and your unbelievable work ethic is so amazing. Thank you for having me on board. Despite being a newbie, I felt welcomed and part of the FBC family really from the start. I learned SO much and wouldn’t have changed a thing. Despite the hard work, it was so worth it and I’m proud to have been a part of the experience.” – Kimberly of The Little Plantation
“This is the first year I have been involved in FBC and I sure hope it isn’t my last!! Whether you’ve been blogging for years, or just set up your blog a week ago, this is the perfect event to learn some amazing tips and tricks to expand your blogging presence, as well as have loads of fun. If you want to enjoy some incredible food, listen to some inspirational speakers, and meet so many like-minded individuals, then this is the place to be. I am so pleased to have been a member of the FBC15 team and feel proud to have been part of such a fabulous weekend at Chiswick House. Make sure you keep an eye out to book your #FBC16 tickets!” – Bethan of Tolerating Intolerance
“I truly enjoyed the weekend, lovely vibes all around, super interesting people and unbelievably good food! Basically, everything a girl needs.” – Alessandra Spairani
“It was fantastic to be involved in the event affording me the opportunity to meet and speak to the rising stars of the food blogging world. And despite my nerves I even enjoyed being part of the panel discussion! Many thanks for getting us involved.” – Tora Davidson, Salt Productions
“Woah thanks @bloggerconnect for both going home bag & all your huge efforts on everyone’s behalf all w/e” – Sasha Wilkins of Liberty London Girl
“It was an honour and a joy for me to take part in FBC. It was a pleasure to meet Bethany and Joslin and several of the participants and a revelation to discover this whole wonderful community of young enthusiastic people active and eager to promote all aspects of food in a way that was unimaginable a few years ago. I marvel at it all. Well done for creating the conference!” – Claudia Roden
Partners & Traders
“Food Bloggers Connect 2015 (#FBC15) was incredibly well organised, a huge delight to be a part of, and was genuinely among the friendliest outdoor events we’ve ever done. The team were there to help when needed, and were always passing by asking if everything was ok and the day was going well. We were very well looked after, had an amazing time and would strongly recommend it to anybody who is looking to showcase their produce to amazing bloggers at the forefront of what they do.We’re already looking forward to next year!” – Hovig Yardim, MASSIS tea
“Quirky Bars had a great time serving Bloody Marys and Elderflower G&Ts from our vintage Bicycle Bar, to thirsty bloggers. What a fantastic event and opportunity to meet likeminded and passionate individuals – thanks for having us along as a StrEAT Feeder!” – Jo & Dan, Quirky Bars
“FBC15 was a great opportunity to launch our new product – The Himalayan Salt Block – The bloggers were a super engaged and interested crowd. If you are seeking early adopters for new launches – Food Bloggers Connect is the place to be. The venue and organisation and weather were superb.” – Tom, Salthouse & Peppermongers
“Food Blogger Connect saw the debut of La Belle Assiette’s Pop-Up Dining Room. It was a great success and a lovely way to interact with bloggers; having long interesting conversations, speaking to 10 people at once, brainstorming ideas and of course eating delicious food. The blogging community are full of creative ideas and have a passion for food in all its forms so it was great to get some new perspectives!” – Millie, La Belle Assiette
“FBC15 was an amazing opportunity to interact with many international food bloggers, traders and companies. We received important feedback from real foodies and had the opportunity to show the potential of Colombian street food. We strongly recommend any trader who is invited to take advantage of this.” – Esteban, Colombian Street Kitchen
“Microplane was delighted to take part in #FBC15. This was an opportunity to gift our iconic Microplane® Premium Classic Zester – loved by professional chefs and restaurants worldwide – to some of the most exciting food and lifestyle bloggers in the UK today.” – Louise, Fab Communications on behalf of Microplane
Access the FBC storify boards here.
Written by Olivia Righton (@oliviarighton)
FBC Behind The Scenes
Olivia Righton is a coach, writer and speaker, who guides smart and sensitive women out of love-hate relationships with food. She authors the blog Nourishing Philosophy. Growing up on a farm, Olivia has always had an interest in food and the role it plays in our lives. After studying for degrees in psychology and human nutrition, she decided to unite these disciplines in her coaching practice to support those wanting to cultivate a loving relationship with food.