The buzz phrase of the moment seems to be ‘with the rise of social media...’ One can barely wake up in the morning, put on one’s dressing gown and pop down to the kitchen to make a nice cup of earl grey without hearing it being bandied around somewhere.
But food blogging isn’t actually that new a phenomenon. Indeed, Food Blogger Connect - the world’s leading international food blogging conference – has been running for five years already, celebrating our 5th anniversary the 5th, 6th, and 7th of July 2013 in London. Of course, each edition is bigger and better than the last, reflecting both the increasing popularity of blogging and, of course, our continued hard work and best efforts to make the weekend both unforgettable and inspirational.
Well before we came along though, shortly after the then called ‘world wide web’ was commercialised, way back in 1995, people quickly took to the net to share their stories about food across the world. While Hank Moody may have claimed that ‘the internet was supposed to set us free, democratise us, all it has really given us is Howard Dean’s aborted candidacy and 24 hour a day access to kiddie porn,’ in 1997, when Jeff Lim and Bob Okumura launched Chowhound, food blogging was official born!
Later that year, the term ‘webblog‘ was coined and, with the introduction of ‘blogger‘ two years later, suddenly food blogging became accessible to the masses. Yet, it was probably 2002 which really heralded the start of blogging on a major scale. Firstly, Regina Schrambling, a professional food writer in New York embraced the web well ahead of most of her peers in print. As she says, until 1980, her only aspiration had been to ‘stay skinny’ and her fridge was stocked with ‘cat food and a few bottles of beer’ before she realised that ‘cooking is one of the most pleasurable things a human being can do standing up.’ She then spent 15 years writing for a vast array of publications, from Vogue to the New York Times, before launching her site Gastropoda, ‘a large and varied class of which the writerly genus chooses to travel on its stomach.’
(image courtesy of Dianne Jacob, Will Write For Food)
Perhaps more significantly, however, 2002 was also the year in which Julie/Julia Project was started. In case you haven’t seen the film (as far as we’re aware, it’s still the only blog to be turned into a ‘major Hollywood motion picture’…although Colombia Pictures have acquired the film rights of Pioneer Woman’s story), Julie Powell spent a year chronicling her attempts to cook all 536 recipes in Julia Child’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Child’s herself wasn’t overly impressed with the project with her editor quoted as saying ‘flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn’t attractive, to me or Julia. She didn’t want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt…Julia didn’t like what she called ‘the flimsies.’ However, the people at Little, Brown Book Group certainly did, and Powell became the first food blogger to be offered a book deal.
From this point, more and more people have continued to grasp the opportunities afforded by the mind boggling power of the internet. Now of course, book deals galore have come from blogs as editors realise that the people behind them aren’t there to be ignored, their popularity borne out of something tangible rather than merely being a fad. The launch of WordPress in 2003, making it so much easier for the amateur to design professional looking websites, only expedited the process.
Of course, though, not everyone’s endgame is to make a name for themselves with their blog. While some may start out with the ambition of being the next big thing, their very own cookbook and, perhaps, a slot on Food Network or UKTV food, for many it still represents something more low key. Blogging has allowed us to share our interests, whether on food or any other subject that may take our fancy, meet like-minded people and gives us the opportunity to dedicate something to our passion.
One of the joys of FBC is that there’s something for everyone. Whether your goals are big or small, the 5th anniversary of Food Blogger Connect (#FBC5) caters for the lot, bringing bloggers together from around the world to meet, share and inspire each other in person rather than across the vast expanse of the World Wide Web.
The event will be taking place in London the 5th – 7th of July 2013. Registration is open here: http://fbc5.eventbrite.co.uk/