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Monday, October 19, 2015

ChoppedCon - Food Blog Conference - Kansas City

I had the privilege of attending the Chopped Conference this past weekend in Kansas City.  
To say I had a good time was an understatement.  Read on for the full recap!

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I know 99% of you reading are not in the food blogger business, but just like any "job" continuing education is needed.  New programs come out, all the while with the industry changing and sometimes it really is hard to keep up.

Hint:  If someone invents ONE MORE social media outlet I might scream.

With that being said, I still need to keep on top of things.  This is the second year for this conference. I really wanted to attend last year, but at the time I had a nursing 6 month old and it just wasn't feasible to ditch out on the family for a few days.

But this year, I made it a point to attend.  #1 it is close {about a 5 hour drive}.  #2 I had friends in attendance.  #3 I had heard great things about it.  Jenni, from The Gingered Whisk, and I carpooled and Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love shared a hotel room one night.  So it was nice to share this experience with some friends.

How about a fun collage recap?

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

{from left to right, starting at the top}

1.  Me chilling in my hotel room.  BY MYSELF.  Any mother with three kids under the age of 6 will agree that this is a vacation.

2.  Thursday night, we left the cocktail reception starving, so a few of us walked to BRGR Kitchen and Bar, not far from our hotel.  It hit the spot.  I drank too many beers, but my burger topped with barbecue sauce and fried onion strings was stellar.

3.  Saturday morning when I woke up, I snapped this photo and shared on Instagram.  I had been encouraged by another blogger the previous night to share "unflattering" photos of yourself so the outside world doesn't think you're perfect.  Which I'm pretty sure you all don't, but that was my "just-woke-up-no-make-up-tired" look.

4.  Holy Mary, I ate the best burnt ends on Friday night.  Catered by Crazy Good Eats, we all chowed down on burnt ends, bacon wrapped meatballs, cheesy potatoes, veggies and more.  I was truly stuffed to the gills.  When others suggested going out for pizza later that night I had to turn them down.  So full.

5.  I got a tattoo!  Kidding.  I got a fake one.  But I do like the saying "live today".  It seemed super fitting for the weekend I had.

6.  Chef Renee Kelly showed us how to properly cut an onion and sharpen our knives.  It sounds basic, but gosh she did it beautifully.  She owns a farm-to-table restaurant just outside of Kansas City, so if you are needing a date night there I would suggest it.  It's in a castle!  For that alone you should go.  And if you need one more reason she told us she just got done tapping a national television cooking show, to soon be announced.

7.  I stole all these products out of my hotel room.  Someone told me too.  Moving on.

8.  We were instructed to take these awkward selfies for a contest on Instagram.  And well, yes, they were truly awkward.

9.  Look at this pretty crowd!  Our event was held at the River Market Event Place.  Such a unique and fun place.  We heard it is very popular for wedding receptions.  It has that industrial, modern feel. We had a great time there.

10.  I snapped this photo right before I left town.  Did you know driving without three kids in the back seat is super peaceful?  I loved it.

11.  My hotel room.  We stayed at the Hilton President downtown.  It was lovely.  My back didn't ache come 4 a.m. because the beds were just so lovely.  It was like sleeping on a cloud.

12.  Thursday night my drink of choice was Boulevard Funky Pumpkin.  I loved it {a bit too much}. The conference served local drinks.  Their Fall Sangria was pretty good too.  What can I say?  I love a good cocktail!

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This guy.  Matt Armendariz.  He is the creative genius behind the award-winning blog, Matt Bites.  His background includes being a creative art director for Whole Foods as well as the author of a cookbook and photography book.  Matt spoke to us about authenticity.  What makes you, you?  Are you truly being yourself in your writing?  Are you doing what you want to do or what you think others want you to do?  It was very though provoking.

I have many, many people tell me that the way I write is exactly how I am in real life.  I fully take that as a compliment....I try and be as authentic as possible.

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

My girl Liz from The Lemon Bowl!  She was my mentor on this trip, as she is a seasoned veteran food blogger and travel queen.  Liz is straight and to the point and I love that.  She tells it like it is. She talked to us about blogger burnout.  Sometimes it can be just like high school - comparing yourself to others.  How did THEY get that sponsorship?  How did THEY get picked for that trip? How did THEY get that book deal?

It's all a bunch of hog wash.  We are individuals and we need to think like individuals.  The comparison game will get us no where.

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

One of my favorite podcasts is Chopped.  We attending a live taping with the founder herself, Marly. This woman is as sweet as apple pie.  She really is.  How she organized this event is beyond me, but what I do know is that she put her heart and soul into it and it showed.

A BIG thanks to her for this great event.

choppedcon kansas city food blog conference (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Anyone follow Six Sister's Stuff?  The immensely popular food blog out of Utah?  We were lucky to have Camille speak to us on Friday {the oldest sister of the six}.  Her along with Kyle Ivins of The Blogger Network {which I just joined} spoke of how their partnership started and where they are taking it.

If you don't know there is a LOT of behind-the-scenes junk homework that goes on to making your blog look pretty.  It's not as easy as making a recipe, writing it down and taking a few photos.  There are ads, html codes, layout design and so much more.

And guess what?  Most of us just figure it out as we go along.  I have a media and journalism degree, so I have some background in it, but it is forever changing, so I'm thrilled that they will now be helping me.

Praise the Lord.

Oh and did I mention they took free head shots of us?  I hope mine turned out.  I need a new one baaaaaaadly.  Fingers crossed.

I'm already counting downs the days till next year, I will definitely be going back.  If you are a food blogger I strongly recommend Chopped.  It's small, quaint, but so full of great information.

Have any questions?  Just leave a comment!

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