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My day at BlogHer SF


One of the beautiful things about going out and about on a day you are typically home puttering and doing your thing is that you are forced to do your day differently, and like it or not, there is always something to gain from that experience. This weekend I went to the BlogHer conference in SF, an all day chow down for food bloggers, mostly woman, that included seminars on such topics as how to find your voice and the visuals of food.

Between sessions, there were sponsor groups hawking their products (Cambell’s anyone?), a book stall, and a chocolate demo by Elizabeth Falkner, celebrity chef and owner of city favorite Citizen Cake.  Her over-the-top dessert demanded you don plastic gloves and dive into a gigantic box made of chocolate filled with sticky, nutty, chocolaty, spicy, marshmallow goo. A theatrical summersault of a confection, for sure, and in that way didn’t disappoint.

But, I have to admit that being conference-bound at a fancy hotel in SF on a gorgeous fall day is not necessarily my idea of fun, and it took me a while to find my bearings in the swarm of technical saavy women bopping about with their headsets, I-phones, laptops, Blackberrys, business cards (and I had mine too) and so forth. One fast track blogger proclaimed if she had any advice to give it would be to incorporate our blog–brand management at work here. I almost ran out the door. Needless to say that posters advertising Richard Avedon’s remarkable exhibit just a hop skip away didn’t go unnoticed, and the thrill of my lunchtime detour to the Ferry Building can not be overestimated (detailed in my next post, stay tuned).

Not to be all negative and such, because in the end I was glad I went and there was some good to be gained. The closing panel discussion with David Lebovitz, Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, and Ree Drummond, author of the very popular Pioneer Woman blog and homeschooling mother of 4 youngins whom she calls her punks, was particularly informative, interesting and funny too, as was an earlier discussion on finding your voice in a crowded blog world.  Writer friend and fellow blogger Dianne Jacob was on that panel and as always offered sage advice. As I said, it’s good to shake it up and this day was a fine example.

The run down:

  • I met and talked with Matt Arimendez of Matt Bites, food photographer and self-described obsessor of food and more, who invited me to stop by his studio when I’m in LA.
  • I  briefly hobnobbed with David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire, whose blog about the sweet life in Paris makes you want to jump ship at every reading.
  • I met the vivacious and unstoppable Marcia Gagliardi, author of Tablehopper, a weekly e-newsletter, who challenged me to dig in to Elizabeth’s chocolate avalanche. “You’re killing me,” she growled ever so sweetly as I politely declined too many times before changing my mind. Marcia is the absolute go-to girl if you want to know about what’s happening in SF. I mean, how does she do it?
  • When introduced to Victoria von Biel of Bon Appetit magazine she declared that she’d seen an advance copy of My Nepenthe and that it was absolutely beautiful (the big worth it moment).
  • And later over a glass of wine at the cocktail party on the hotel roof I enjoyed a long conversation with a smart, young editor from Sunset magazine who told me a very funny (in retrospect) story about why everyone should learn to drive a stick shift (think a gun wielding carjacker who couldn’t drive a stick, hence he gave her back her keys), one she told me to pass on to my daughter who doesn’t want to.

So needless to say, I did learn a few things and didn’t return empty handed (received lots of good swag, as they say).

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  1. Nani, this was truly a fun read, and you have a an almost British sense of humor. Did you really dive into a “Godiva” chocolate goopot?? Wow! You more than earned your swag time.

  2. Sonya says:

    Blog-brand management, I know that is just EXACTLY your cup of tea! We got back from camping, I have a cold, but we have to get together. Simply must! (Isn’t that networking talk?)

  3. Rita Gatti says:

    Nani your writings often provoke memories for me…speaking of over the top confections…this one in London, 1966…big party at the Round House (opposite the Chalk Farm tube station) for something…let’s see actually it was the party to launch the International Times, an underground newspaper published by Hoppy (John Hopkins)who along with Joe Boyd produced the Pink Floyd. Hoppy was a flatmate of mine along with about 5 other guys and Kate, Hoppy’s girlfriend at the time and someone I still have a sweet relationship with (hope to see her this time next year in Paris). Miles and Andy Mabbett’s (Miles lived with us and together they have written several books including “PINK FLOYD A Visual Documentary”) account states that it also launched the Pink Floyd. Kaffe may remember this party! Paul McCartney came(dressed as an Arab in while robes and a head dress) and Michaelangelo Antonioni (of”Blow Up”fame), Marianne Faithful and other London underground celebs of the 60′s. First time the Pink Floyd played for a large audience…2500 people! Gerry Fitzgerald made a monster jelly (jello for us Americans)using a bath tub for a mould, “…but the Pink Floyd ran over it in their van while they were setting up and so few people saw it in its original magnificence.” But there was some rolling around in it that night!!!

  4. romneysteele says:

    Rita, I love your comments to my posts, and that I inspire (provoke) you somehow, is fabulous! I only wish more people read my blog, which means more people would read your stories too. When are you going to write a blog? I’m always amazed at what you remember–rich with details and the wildness of those particular times.

    For all of you who don’t know, Rita lived in Big Sur for many years; performed with the Big Sur Choir, and is helped fill in the blanks of my story around the late 60s and early 70s. There is a photo of her in the book alongside Taj Mahal and others, performing at Esalen. And Mary-weren’t you a part of that same group?

  5. sarah henry says:


    Can so relate to all you say…had a few moments myself when I wanted to run outside, jump into the Bay, and swim to Sydney…But I so enjoyed our rooftop chat and glad you made the wise choice to skip the frozen lunch fest…wish I’d found you & headed to the Ferry Building as well.

    And may I just add: Manuals rule.
    (That’s a bit of Aussie slang for what you Yankees call a stick shift!)

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