In the midst of the heatwave that hit London, July 2013 also saw Food Blogger Connect’s spectacular fifth anniversary celebrations. Embracing the spirit of the community, 150 attendees from around the world descended on the nation’s capital to join the party, sharing their passion, learning new skills and, of course, trying some amazing food. With so many veteran faces to go with the new, it almost felt like a reunion, as old friends from previous years gathered together yet again.
The opening ceremony kicked off with toasts and treats, with food from @pigachic, @eatdorshi, @Luchito_mexico, @BakeWithMaria, @LaFromagerieUK followed by afternoon tea with @yummyboutique, @RareTeaCompany, @BevsCookies and our very own FBC alumni, Ren Behan, showcasing her Polish pop up, @MyPolishKitchen on the Friday evening.
Giving bloggers a chance to meet face to face outside of the realms of social media, our theme this year was Community Feeds Success, and while some may have been apprehensive to start with, soon after walking through the doors of the fantastic Battersea Arts Centre and enjoying all the wonderful food, their minds were quickly set at ease. A mingling of likeminded people, MOO.COM were on hand with custom business cards to help everyone put names (and twitter handles) to faces.
Saturday evening also saw the launch of The Jewelled Kitchen, the début Middle Eastern cookbook of FBC founder Bethany Kehdy, and the sumptuous feast that went with it. Housed in a decked out Moroccan Bazaar (@MBazaarUK) tent filled to the brim with exotic elements, it was a magical evening with @LebanonWines to compliment recipes from the book prepared by Bethany and her siblings who had flown in from Lebanon to celebrate.
This year again saw some of the UK’s best and upcoming street traders join in for the StrEAT Party. It was the perfect opportunity for traders to really engage with an increasingly important target audience, while interacting with likeminded people who really knew what they were talking about and what they like. With traders serving up food throughout the weekend including @coconutchilli, @yummychooeats, @lovedeshscout & @TagusCreek wines showcased alongside @AppletonRumUK , @lidgates butchery demo, @PetitGateau_UK, @Seggiano, @Peppermongers, @EddiesChilliJam, @TerraRossaUK, @Lovedeshscout, @TheVeganTart, @FunkyChickenVan, @africanvolcano more besides, the weekend was full of a wonder array of flavours.
Add to that the wonderful people from @Chobani_UK, who kept us satiated throughout the weekend with a healthy and nutritional variety of yoghurt helping us remain chilled during the summer heat. Travelling all the way from Stateside, their Sunday brunch perhaps the highlight, perfectly reflecting the theme of the Community Feeding Success as they catered to the masses while networking and connecting with their audience. Understandably, given the quality of the food, it was particularly well-received. Meanwhile Emily Schildt gave an enlightening talk on ‘The Importance of Social Media’ as people ate and tweeted away.
And while the StrEAT party raged outside, Community Breaks in between the sessions gave attendees the chance to discuss what they’d learnt while enjoying snacks from none other than Moos Maple Butter (@FarrahMoose), @joeandseph, @HappyKitchenOrg, @Chobani_UK, @Tyrrells, @9Bar_Official while @LavazzaUK, @JaxCocoUK, @JusdePommeraie, @LoveLondonTea, @KandulaTea and @GreenBoar were all on hand to quench thirsty guests.
Yet, as much as the weekend was about drinking, eating and socialising, there was also much more on offer. It was about learning and honing new skills and furthering the blogs, hobbies and careers of those passionate about food. World renowned food photographer Penny de Los Santos flew in from New York to give us a exclusive food photography and styling workshop, in conjunction with Leith’s trained stylist, Emily Jonzen, one of the team members behind The Jewelled Kitchen.
And, in addition to the workshop, internationally acclaimed speakers were also on hand to give a series of sessions throughout the weekend. With the likes of David Lebovitz, Niamh Shields of Eat Like a Girl, Kerstin Rodgers of Ms. Marmite Lover, Emma Gardner of Poires au Chocolat, Sol of Toma Mexicano, Dana Elemara founder of Arganic and a team from the Food Network, giving a selection of interesting and informative workshops and sessions, it was a unique opportunity for food bloggers to learn from the best; those who really know what they’re talking about. Sponsors @ExploreCanada, @GrokkerInc, @BlurbBooks, @CookletApp and @VisitBritain also took the chance to promote their brand message, offering helpful and valuable information for attendees while interacting and explaining exactly what they do.
With the community in mind, the weekend was also a unique platform for fellow bloggers to share their experience and expertise among the diverse audience with Aoife Cox of The Daily Spud, Ren Behan of Fabulicious Food, Karen Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage, Regula Ysewijn from Miss Food Wise providing inspiration for fellow food bloggers to ‘feed from their success.’
Not content with merely providing great food and drink and a unique learning opportunity, FBC5 also had some scarcely believable giveaway opportunities. A fully paid holiday to Canada was the one that everyone was dreaming of thanks to @ExploreCanada. However, even if only one lucky winner will be jetting off on a all expenses paid holiday of a lifetime, there were plenty of other great prizes on offer. Cookbook giveaways from Jul’s Kitchen – I Love Toscana, Bethany Kehdy – The Jewelled Kitchen, and Sarah Fioroni – A Family Farm in Tuscany were generously received, while @KitchenNomadUK provided authentic ingredients and recipes from their arrays of world cuisine in their brilliant boxes, offering winners a chance to experiment with different food from around the world.
All of that is without mentioning the Goodie Bags, choc-a-bloc as always and a continual highlight of the conference, habitually weighing attendees down as they make their way home at the end of the weekend. @AmysKitchenUK, @AlmondBoard, Kishk from @BethanyKd, @BlurbBooks, @buddysbeer, @hoopersbrew, @ExploreCanada, @Chobani_UK, Damiano Think Organic, @Halen_Mon, @Hodmedods, @FeelGoodFoodUK, @LaChinatacom, @MaldonSalt, @MeridianFoods, @OliveBranchFood, @KitchenNomadUK, @OBrienPress 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!
For those unfortunate enough not to make it to this year’s event or just wanting to recap such a special weekend, full of sun, smiles, food and friends, then check out this video filmed by Adasat Studio for a true flavour of the FBC spirit! Encapsulating what our ethos is all about and representing the wonderful international community of bloggers and attendees who made the weekend what it was, we’ve been watching it on repeat, reliving the wonderful emotions as we start the countdown to next year’s conference already!
As such, with barely a second to put our feet up, the organisation starts for #FBC14, the 6th year of this trailblazing event taking place the 6th, 7th and 8th of June, 2014 which has become an annual pilgrimage for bloggers from around the world, so put it in your diary now and join the waiting list.
Moreover, we’re offering brands the chance to secure a 10% discount on sponsorship by the 31st of August for next year’s #FBC14. By sponsoring #FBC14, you’ll be connecting your brand with a group of people whose opinions, thoughts, random utterings and the like are followed by millions of people, not just in the UK, but across the world. As well as being an invaluable opportunity to reach this dedicated, captive niche audience throughout the course of the weekend there are huge social media benefits too. Indeed, this year’s news filtering out of the conference extended to over 23 million twitter impressions alone. Add to that the number of blog posts, Facebook statuses and even the good old fashioned face to face, and the numbers are truly astounding.
And if you want to see what attendees thought about their FBC5 experience, this year’s reviews and brand new live blog are a real time reflection of a very special weekend!
So, get in touch for more information and, in the meantime, we can’t wait to see you all next year for another action packed FBC bonanza!