Food Blog Camp 2011

I’ve just returned from five days in Mexico at Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort for Food Blog Camp 2011. I know feel sorry for me really! It was hard work – honest. But when you have to work hard it’s not bad if you are having fun doing something you love – plus learning is about as good as it gets for me – and boy oh boy did I learn a lot.

Every second I wasn’t in a lecture or tutorial, a hands on photography workshop or a cooking demo, I was to be found in my luxury suite tapping away at my computer – with fishes ocassionally jumping out of the lithium pool outside – and a much needed glass of vino close by. I was finishing up the BLAD for the book I’m currently writing MADE IN AMERICA – more on that another time but one of my reasons for going was to learn about food photography, as well as how to improve upon  Ladles and Jellyspoons.

This photo of a strawberry, taken using the manual setting on my Canon 5D Mark II (thanks for the lesson Matt), hand held and in natural light with a 50mm lens, was made even better by asking Carrie Vitt, Deliciously Organic to stand behind it and have her grey dress act as the backdrop.

The camp [- and yes I went to camp - and no I am not going to change my moritorium on camping - I even asked them to change the name in my application because as you know I DON'T CAMP but it obviously went on deaf ears] was led by Jaden Hair (Steamy Kitchen), Elise Bauer (Simply Recipes), Diane Cu and Todd Porter (White on Rice Couple), David Lebovitz (David Lebovitz), Matt Armenderiz (MattBites) and Adam C Pearson (AdamCPearson) food stylist to the stars.  What an amazing group of mentors and educators – THANK YOU to each and everyone of you for your time, words of wisdom and friendship.
Here are some of the gems from these food blog STARS that I am working on:

Jaden – “Have your blog be more useful.”

Elise – “Praise publically, criticize privately.”

David – “Find your niche.”

David Lebovitz, Matt Armendariz, Michael Procopio

David Lebovitz, Matt Armendariz and Michael Procopio share a joke

Diane – “Visit other sites and leave comments.”

Diane Cu gives photography class

Diane Cu half of the White on Rice Couple demos how to direct light

Todd – “Find the best angle for each shot.”

Todd Porter half of the White on Rice Couple

Matt – “Food loves directional light”

Adam and Matt show us how it's really done

Adam – “Every time you plate food it’s a moment to learn.”

Adam Pearson Melts Kerrygold butter

Adam shows us how to melt Kerrygold butter

I’m now so inspired and energized to move forward with the site… and start incorporating more of other aspects of my life – in particular shooting chefs across America.

Chefs at Grand Velas watch the food blogger photo madness

A quick shout out to the sponsor – Kerrygold – it’s the butter and cheddar we already buy for our daily use – makes the best grilled cheese!


And then there were the all important FRIENDSHIPS old and new, big and small, effortless and at times a little trying… I’m not good in groups all the time and the lack of alone time was challenging but easily forgotten with a little help from my friends! Elise stressed the importance of community and working together – a theme that ran through the camp both during class and after hours.

First off thank you to my lovely roommate – The Urban Baker – Susan – she was a delight to share with. We talked late into the night every night and I really valued her company, insight and advice as we both navigated the wonderful world of food blogging. Susan was the voice of reason – dragging me out for dinner when I was insisting I had to get room service one night, I had already missed lunch and eaten a Snickers and Starbucks coffee from a glass bottle – in the end the work all got done and I enjoyed another of the many restaurants at the resort.

Susan photographing my pastries during class

Next door in room 1167 lived a new friend – Michael P – during a little interlude from dinner I introduced him to total strangers as my new husband – saying we were in Mexico on our honeymoon – being a good sport he not only played along perfectly but enjoyed every second. We covered a lot of ground in a very short time – especially our discussions about literature and classic movies – made a refreshing change from the usual “And what is your blog about?” banter.

Honey, I told you to keep our Honeymoon a secret

I arrived at Grand Velas from Los Angeles via American Airlines with Gaby, Brooke, Susan and Carrie – they say the journey’s the thing and in this case that was certainly true. I had met everyone before and know these lovely food bloggers on a scale of ‘friends who’ve had dinner at my house’ to ‘met once over pizza at Mozza’. By the end of camp I would gladly invite them all up, anytime – in fact I can’t wait for a little reunion chez moi with guac, margaritas and laughter. I may even make my Red Pepper Sauce for you again, Gaby – I know you love it!

Gaby (WhatsGabyCooking), Brooke (FoodWoolf) and Matt (MattBites) - old friends and now better friends

One of the all time funniest people on the planet is the fire cracker  ’Little Cook’ – Marla Meridith. Her imitation of my accent over dinner one night had us all crying with laughter and falling on the floor. What larks Pip! I’m still working on installing audio for the site – you wont’ be disappointed Marla although I feel it may have to be you as me to make it perfect.

Carrie(Deliciously Organic) and Marla (FamilyFreshCooking) or as I like to call them Big Cook Little Cook

There were many memorable lunches and dinners – our first night I was lucky enough to be at Jaden’s dinner with a small group of incredibly smart, diverse women. I’m so sorry if I can’t remember all your names/blogs but send them over so I can include you all… Diana the Dinasaur Hopelessly Devoted to FoodWoolf singer, the garlic lady, the two who are yet to launch their blogs – one who’s all about helping others through charity and the other who wants to do this through laughter, the savvy New Yorker who writes about Morroco with a playlist, the mummy blogger who’s not and takes gorgeous pics – I need to be better at writing all this down as I go rather than relying on memory after countless glasses of vino!

Standup, Diana, Gaby and Carrie in Photography class

Once my BLAD was put to bed at the printers I was able to enjoy a little R & R. It coincided with Adam’s first day (he’d been food styling a VIP client in LA and arrived just in time to show us all how it’s done before heading to the pool).

The two of us lay by the pool – along with the rest of the rabble – chatting as we soaked up the sun. He ate a Mexican hot dog (- apparently that’s his thing – he’s even eaten a Vatican hot dog…) and I sipped a margarita (or two). It was during this conversation that I realised that the CAMP in Blogger Camp has nothing to do with tents and mosquitoes and everything to do with Otters, Bears and a certain drag queen called Viagra Falls not to mention the drag queen 12 inch cookie with wig and microphone that Michael made for a christmas cookie party – I told you I’d learned a lot on my trip…

And you don’t get much more CAMP than this delightful little ‘home-movie’ made by Matt that day FOOD BLOGGERS BY POOL VIDEO I’m keeping my fast and furious fifties wave – the royal wave is just so damn passé!

More words, pictures and thoughts from my fellow happy campers of Food Blogger Camp 2011:

Comments

  1. Fantastic recap… great photos and tips. Looks beautiful!

    • Thanks Amanda – means a lot coming from you – LOVE LOVE LOVE your photos, site and creative ideas

  2. What a lovely recap! It was so great getting to know you and laugh until we cried. I can’t wait to see you soon! xoxo

  3. Lucy!!

    A wonderful recap – so glad Susan dragged you out to play with us!!! I cannot wait for the book to come out and to spend more time getting to know you over a little guacamole and maybe a lot of margaritas!!

  4. I thought you were fun after out first luncheon at Mozza. I knew you were someone who I wanted to keep in touch with. Now I know our friendship is meant to be.
    So glad you loved your honeymoon :)
    Thrilled we had so many fun dinners & loads of new memories together. We will be giggling over this trip for a long time. If that is considered “camping” then that is the extent of how I am willing to do it. 5 star camping with a roof over my head is how I roll.
    Happy we were able to pull you away from your refrigerated Starbucks. I was worried you would overdose! Amazing re-cap – & I am inviting myself over for your Red Pepper sauce & laughs :) XXOO

    • You are welcome at my table anytime – I still chuckle to myself when I think about you at that famous dinner – I guess you had to be there – but it was so damn funny x

  5. Sounds like you all had such a wonderful time. Great re-cap!

  6. What an amazing experience! And to meet all of these incredible food bloggers….the connections made! Thanks for the fabulous recap!

  7. Glad you had such a great time. I love all of your photos!

  8. oh dear lucy – what a fabulous way you have with your pros, your wit, your charm and your humor! you are a unique one; uber confident, exceptionally intelligent, yet whimsical, passionate, and authentic all at the same time. Staying up until 2am as we weave the ins and outs of wordpress, changing color backgrounds and font sizes was a highlight. Although I went to “camp” to learn more about blogging from the masters, it was you I learned the most from! our friendship will grow and grow and grow. i adore you! xxx

  9. I love the strawberry photo. what is it setting on?

  10. What a lovely get away FBC was! Thanks for the laughs and the supportive words.
    Xoxox,
    Brooke