06 September 2012

Scottish Food Bloggers Conference & Tips for Bloggers



The inaugural Scottish Food Bloggers Conference was held in Ayr on Saturday 1st September 2012. It was organised by Lisa Tennant on behalf of Taste Ayrshire, as part of Scottish Food Fortnight. The venue was Ayr Racecourse and the conference was held in the rather swish Princess Royal Suite, with stunning views across the racecourse.


We arrived at the racecourse just after nine in the morning and were lead to the conference suite, where we had a chance to mingle before the conference began. Lisa gave a talk about her hopes for the conference and introduced our first speaker who was Justin Galea, Executive Chef at the world famous Turnberry Resort.


Justin Galea
Justin spoke to us about finding the best produce. The keywords he adheres to are; sustainability, ethical purchasing and seasonality. It was wonderful hearing him talk, he is so passionate about food and I could have listened to him for hours.

He told us that what we should be doing is showcasing one ingredient and building a dish around it. Also, we should be looking for quality ingredients and buying locally when we can. He went on to tell us this could be challenging and that during the Olympics, 15 lorries full of Ayrshire lettuce were sent to London a day, which meant it was difficult for restaurateurs to source local produce.

Interesting titbits:


  • Justin recommends extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil.
  • Last year the food trends were syringes and powders, this year the trend is humble food and it is all about the ingredients.
  • Michelin are changing the way they award stars. A noodle cart on the streets of Hong Kong has a Michelin Star.
  • When staying at The Turnberry, the CEO of Pepsi sends his own wrapped frying pans, by plane, as he has an allergy.
Colin Kelly

Our next workshop was with Colin Kelly, a broadcaster, journalist and social media guru. Colin spoke to us about how to promote our blogs on social media. Apparently 20% of businesses on social media get nothing from it.  He told us that our readers don't trust adverts, but they do trust us.

This was a great workshop and really lived up to it's full potential for me. Really relevant for bloggers and I learned so much.


Colin showed us this video on Socialnomics, it is fascinating, I urge you to watch it.

 



Interesting titbits:


Donald McInnes
  • 23 Billion minutes a day are spent on facebook.
  • The fastest growing membership of facebook is the 55 - 65 age group and they are women.
  • Before you post on your blog's facebook page, re-read it. Would you read it & share it. If not don't post it.
  • You should be able to achieve all your social media objectives a day in 20 minutes.
It was nearly lunchtime at this point, but before we got stuck in, Executive Chef, Donald McInnes talked to us about local produce and catering for thousands at the racecourse, before we tucked into a delicious three course lunch using local produce, cooked for us by Donald and his team. I hope you aren't hungry!


Janice (Farmersgirl Kitchen) and me waiting for lunch.
Warm Beetroot & Butternut Squash Tartlet with  a Piccalilli and Beetroot dressing. and Micro Herbs
Seasonal Vegetable Ratatouille with a Crunchy Granola & Cheese Topping
 
Chocolate & Toasted Almond Mousse


John Cooke
After lunch and arguably that hardest workshop of the day to give (large lunch = sleepy bloggers), was 'Fine Tune your Food Writing' with professional writer, reviewer and editor, John Cooke.

John took us through different writing styles and told us how to 'clean up' our writing style. He also put us on the spot by  asking us to write a piece in 10 minutes about the best meal we had ever experienced. My mind immediately went blank and all I could think about was all the bland vegetarian food I had been served over the years. I declined to read mine out.



Interesting titbits:



  • When you are writing, imagine you are speaking to just one person.
  • Avoid cliches like the plague!!!! (whoops, must try harder!) 
  • Don't try to be funny, unless you are a stand up comedian, you probably aren't funny.
  • Read your work aloud.


Our last workshop and one I was really looking forward to was the Food Photography Masterclass with food photographer Darren McKean

After a talk about his business and how he got into food photography, Darren showed us different techniques and shared some photographers tips with us. He was very patient, with some of our very basic questions and took the time to answer questions individually. He also had a look at the cameras we were using and gave us suggestions. We all practised taking photos of a cheese board, as he explained different lighting techniques and exposures.


Interesting titbits:



  • You can make a reflector to reflect light onto your dishes simply with a piece of card covered in tinfoil.
  • You can also use a sheet of polystyrene to bounce light onto your dish.
  • When taking photos of food, wrap clingfilm around your camera to keep it clean.


Louise, Janice & Stuart
We are hoping that Darren will agree to setting up a full day's food photography course for us and other bloggers who are interested and can travel to Scotland. I will keep you posted.


And so ended the conference and a long journey home. Congratulations to Lisa, for putting on such an informative and enjoyable day and thanks goes out to our guest speakers, for very interesting and relevant workshops.



me, louise & Janice


A big wave to some of my fellow bloggers at the conference:

Janice - Farmersgirl Kitchen
Louise - Please Do Not Feed The Animals
Stuart - Cakeyboi
Elaine - Fun as a Gran
Kellie - Food to Glow
Lucy - Food That Doesn't Hurt

A big thanks to Scotty Brand for sponsoring my place at the conference and for their continued support.


35 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It was indeed Manu, but much more than I am used too. I could have happily lain down for a sleep afterwards.

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  2. The Socialnomics video is great isn't it? But a bit scary for this old fashioned girl!!!
    Thanks for posting about the conference beforehand - I'm so glad I was able to go.

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    1. I am glad you could make it too. It was such a good day :)

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  3. Thank you Jacqueline for posting about the conference. Sometimes it is difficult trying to stay focused when blogging. It is so nice that bloggers with more experience like you post useful tips.

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    1. I hope they are useful for you Rita. It makes sense to pass these tips on.

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  4. Thanks for sharing all those tips , really useful. I like the idea to wrap camera in cling film!

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    1. It's a good tip, isn't it? I really should do that. My poor camera is always covered in flour.

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  5. Sound like a great day out. Thanks for passing on all those tips :-)

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  6. I had a great time Jac - thank you for letting me know about it and taking me on my first bloggers event :)

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    1. You will be an old hand in no time Stuart, it was great having your company.

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  7. what a brilliant post, amazing how we are all coming from a different angle

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    1. Oh, I didn;t realise your post was up yet. Off to have a look :)

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  8. Sounds like a great day, thanks for sharing - especially the 'tidbits'. Very interesting.
    Sally
    www.dorothyandtheodore.com/blog

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  9. Thank you for sharing your insights. The food looks gorgeous and yes it did make me hungry. Most useful tip was the clingfilm on camera - would save me a lot of time as I always seem to be washing my hands every 2 minutes in order to take another photo!

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    1. You are better than me, I just pick my camera up. It must hate me. Sticky, floury, wet. Poor camera!

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  10. Great summary Jac. The summary on you tube was really interesting.
    The mich. star in Hong Kong - was it Tim Ho Wan? (Sells great Dim Sum).
    The food looks delicious. Looks like you had a fun packed day:-)

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    1. Not sure who it was had the noodle cart, Justin didn't say and i haven't been there. The you tube was great!

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  11. Sounds like a great day - those photos of the food look fantastic - and it sounds like you had some really interesting topics and presenters. I laughed at the tip to gladwrap your camera - mine mucks in with my food too often!

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    1. I am the same Johanna. I don't deserve a good camera.

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  12. That sounds like an amazing day - I'd love to attend something like that! :-)

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    1. It was good Rachel. You should try to get to one sometime. BTW saw your video, it was great. Good luck!

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  13. Great precis of the day. I'm not sure why I bothered making notes as yours were so good!! It was terrific to meet you and some of our fellow bloggers north of the border. I really hope it is the start of an annual event because if nothing else it gets us all out meeting other like-minded folk and having a moan about our photography 'skills'! I hope Janice worked her magic on the ride home...

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    1. I hope it will be yearly too Kellie and it was lovely to meet you. I am crossing my fingers for the photography workshop.

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  14. must have been a great day out! Thanks for sharing some of the tips you learned with us :-)

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    1. No problem Alex, I hope they are useful.

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  15. I need a lot of camera help, probably starting with a new one! Sounds like a great day Jacs :)

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    1. I have my eye on a new one, Darren told me what I should go for. Have to save I think.

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  16. Sounds like a really useful and fun day Jac. Of course, I would happen to be on a fast day when reading this, which is obviously NOT a good idea!

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    1. Oh no, not a good idea to look at food blogs on a fast day Choclette. You should have a blog fast on the same days as your food fasts.

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  17. Thanks so much for sharing your invaluable tips Jac, especially on photography which I would love to be better at. Your lunch sounded so good and love the photo of you and Janice looking good! Are you going to FBC? Would be lovely to meet you sometime but not sure how much you come down south x

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  18. Thanks Jacqueline for passing on these great tips. A really interesting read and lots to take on board. Cheers

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  19. This is great to read, Jac, thank you so much for sharing. It looks like you had a super day and it was a very well organised event with interesting speakers.

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x

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