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Food Blogger Connect, the international food bloggers conference, was held in Chiskwick House in London this year. Well when I say Chiskwick House, I actually mean in the gardens. We were super lucky it was dry. Strangely enough the dog show was inside that beautiful building and we were outside. There's something not quite right there.


I usually post a few write-ups about the event, but as I'm so late in posting this I thought I'd do it all in a oner. First I'd like to share the rather fab hotel we stayed in and then I'll move down to blogger tips and some of the new products I tried and we'll finish with a few of the lovely bloggers who were there.

HOTEL


Stuart (Cakeyboi), Sarah (Maison Cupcake), Lisa (United Cakedom), Luca (Chestnut and Truffles) and myself all stayed in Ibis Shepherds Bush.

We were mightily impressed. Sarah stays in Ibis a lot, but this was a first for me.

We were greeted by a cheery receptionist and all delighted with our rooms. They were modern, sleek, very clean and had everything we needed. Plenty of storage, plug points, a tv, power shower and a comfy bed.

Luca thought it was really reasonably priced for London too.


 

We were really impressed by breakfast too. There was so much to choose from. Cooked breakfasts, fruit, yoghurt, cereals, muesli, a range of fresh breads and rolls, preserves, cheeses, salad, fruit salad, dried fruit, muffins, croissants, yoghurt drinks, smoothies................

I'll definitely stay in Ibis hotels in future.


BLOGGER TIPS


Sophie Grigson
Food and Recipe Writing Lab



Sophie was lovely. Stuart and I were lucky enough to arrive at the same time as her and had a wander round the grounds with her and a chat. Her session was up first and whizzed by. She set us all to work writing recipes for cheese on toast. Yes, there's more to it than you would think.

Here are some of her recipe writing tips:
  • Lure people in with a good recipe title.
  • Add clear instructions, but add a bit of your own voice.
  • What makes the recipe special? Think about this for the title, don't just list the ingredients.
  • When stating servings be as helpful as possible. It may feed 6 hungry people or two as a light lunch (obviously not the same recipe).
  • The list of ingredients should be the same order they are added to create the dish.
  • Make sure all ingredients listed are used in the method and the other way around too, make sure all the ingredients mentioned in the method are in the ingredient list.
  • Spoons should be level,  rounded or heaped (this especially makes a difference when baking).
  • Think about the weight of fruit, is it the weight before or after the stones are removed?
  • A long method can scare readers off. If you want to add notes, why not add them in the paragraph above the recipe.
  • Use correct terminology ie, boiling, simmering, sauteed or fried.
  • All cookers are different, use about in times, so people can check their dish as it cooks. Manufacturers say 10 degrees either way is ok. (WHAT!!!!!!)
Sarah (Maison Cupcake), Lisa (United Cakedom) and Ceri (Natural Kitchen Adventures)
Katie (Feeding Boys), Helene (Croque Maman), Luca (Chestnut and Truffles) & Stuart (Cakeyboi)
 
Lizzie Sibley
Marketing Manager Pinterest UK

Pinterest 101
  • 85% of Pinterest Traffic is from mobiles
  • Use portrait shots, landscape shots disappear on Pinterest
  • You can't have too many boards or too many pins
  • People don't tend to look at your profile page, they find you through search
  • Focus on good board descriptions and pin descriptions so people can find you through search
  • Go back through your boards and make the description more detailed
  • Don't use hashtags, they don't work on Pinterest. Use good descriptions instead
  • You can use long descriptions on pins, give as much information as possible
  • If you have a blog sign up for a business account for the analytics
  • Install the official ‘Pin It’ button on your website to make it Pinterest friendly, you’re helping your readers share and distribute your content on your behalf.
  • See what people are pinning from your site. Go to pinterest.com/source/yourblogurl  


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Me and Kate from The Veg Space


Monica (Smarter Fitter) giving a talk on analytics


David Frenkiel
Green Kitchen Stories

Developing Workflow Habits

Well there wasn't much in the way of worflow tips, but I did enough the talk. Here are some of the tips I picked up.
  • Styling - Check with companies that sell wood, tiles and stone, find out what they are using and get it cheap
  • While you are cooking a dish, plan in your head what plates you will use to display it and what else you will use in the photo. Plan ahead and take less photos
  • Find a good window and take your shots there
  • Have a stock of plates and props near your photo area
  • Use a reflector
  • Take one shot from above and one from the side
  • Limit your shots and cut down the time it takes you to decide and edit
  • Keep all photos organised in folders. In each folder there should be sub-folders
    • Subfolders
      • 1 - Raw photos
      • 2 - High Res photos edited and saved as TIFFs
      • 3 - Edited Photos saved as 800px jpgs
      • 4 - Square shots or shots for social media
  •  Keep secret Pinterest boards to store ideas

Kevin (The Crafty Larder), Nazima (Franglais Kitchen) & Jen (Jen's Food)


FILO

Filo is a new way to recommend products. It works with Amazon, requires zero integration, and is completely free. It's iPhone based.

Information Snacking
  • Mobiles are where it's at. People are waiting for the buzz and checking their phones all day.
  • People average 150 sessions a day.
  • Instagram is easy to snack on, it's like French fries.
  • Before mobiles everything was platformed based. You had to switch on your pc, load a browser, a website and work on a platform, mobile has changed all that.
  • Each platform has different readers.
  • Remember email is a platform too, send out newsletters.
  • Here's the share on mobiles
    • Facebook 64%
    • Twitter 10%
    • Pinterest 10% 
    • Other 16%
Becca (Amuse your Bouche), Sarah (Taming Twins), Jo (Jo's Kitchen), Helen (Fuss Free Flavours)  Kate (Veggie Desserts)


FOOD


Duke of Delhi - The most fabulous flavoursome chocolate. We all know chocolate can be good with a little salt, imagine chocolate with little bites of spice. I was wowed! They also gave me a shot of bombay mix with chocolate in it. You have to try it. Flavour bomb sensation!

Crazy for Pasta - These cheery chappies kindly made us fresh pasta to fuel our brains over the weekend. I loved their pasta machine. It was mesmerising! Great pasta too!






Oh My Dogs - Oh my I enjoyed my tofu dog. So, so good. I'll have to figure out how to make these. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Mamasitas - Traditional Mexican corn tacos filled with veg and topped with pickles and dressing. Tasty!!!


Churros Garcia - Who could say no to some freshly made churros tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with warm melted chocolate? I couldn't!

Massis Tea - I hate tea. Have I told you that before? Well I was lured in by the pretty flowers and a charming young man persuaded me to try this Iced Tea with Ginger and Honey.  It was so refreshing. I can't believe I liked it. Shocker!

Outsider Tart - See that slice there? Stuart, Lisa and Luca went off campus in search of Outsider Tart and I'm so glad they did because Stuart brought back that slice. A moist biscuit base, topped with a brownie layer and topped with M&Ms and cookie. It was heavenly, but also huge, so I shared it round.


SUMMING UP

I really enjoyed my trip to FBC this year. As usual there was good and bad. Everyone was freezing, although to this Scots lass it was gorgeous sunny weather.

Some of the sessions were great and others not so good. There was a rather loud-mouthed fashion blogger (why?) who dominated several talks. Did she share anything useful? Nope! It was just me, me, me, aren't I wonderful. That annoyed a lot of people.

There were some great sessions too. The ones I've spoken about, a tax session, one on Lightroom, a talk by Claudia Roden which was interesting, but went on too long and Monica's analytics.

The best part of the weekend as ever was meeting up with all the bloggers I spend so much time chatting to online. It's nice to meet up again with old friends and to make new friends too.



Disclosure: Ibis were kind enough to provide me with a hotel room and breakfast over the weekend. I was not expected to write a positive review, but I had a great stay there and will definitely stay in Ibis again.
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