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Events, Out and About, Persian and Middle-Eastern, Thoughts, World Foods

My round-up of Food Blogger Connect 5

Work has been awful, lately. Awful as in “I don’t want tonight to be over, because tomorrow morning I’ll have to go to the office again”. To say I don’t like to think or write about it is a polite understatement, yet this is a necessary introduction to my round-up of Food Blogger Connect 5.

The first day, Friday, I woke up tired and underslept, all the week’s negativity still haunting me: thoughts of being good for nothing, having lost trust in people, and similar pleasantries. The experience I had been looking forward to for weeks was around the corner, and I couldn’t even manage a smile. “This doesn’t look good”, I said to my partner. “Get over yourself”, he replied, “you know you’ll love this weekend”. He was right: I loved FBC5.

We could spend the next half hour debating whether all sessions were relevant to the audience, enough time was allocated to all speakers, and the offer of food lived up to expectations. However, an experience is what your heart makes of it, and what I found was much more than talks and quirky street parties. I found purpose, and hope for a passion I’ve been so far confining to late evenings after work. I stepped into a world in which I felt far more myself than I do when I’m sitting at a desk compiling paperwork, or stuck in office meetings. I met and listened to inspiring people, made new friends, said “It was lovely meeting you” and “Let’s keep in touch” – and meant it every single time.

FBC5 Street MarketDay 1: You are what you love

FBC5 started with food. Four market stalls parked outside Battersea Arts Centre, and an encouragement to us attendees to dive in. Although, as many others, I was expecting bigger portions, small helpings of Pig a Chic Thai skewers and Dorshi barley sushi didn’t put me off much: only meant I could save my appetite for afternoon tea treats!

FBC5 Pig A Chic Thai SkewersFBC5 Dorshi SushiFBC5 Bev's Cookie DessertsThe day’s talks were lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed David Lebovitz, Niamh Shields of Eat Like a Girl, and Poires Au Chocolat‘s Emma Gardner talking about what makes a successful blog: in a nutshell, loving what you do, finding your own space to be creative, and making sure anything you engage with feels right to you in the first place.

However, what struck me the most were relationships. The ease with which people bonded with each other, the things in common we so quickly and effortlessly found. I discovered many realities that reflected and completed my own, and loved hearing each and every one of these stories. All in all, I hope to have built something that lasts: be it for a chat over the internet, a catch up around a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, or a get together during one of my next trips abroad, I’d love to stay in touch with every single foodie friend I made last weekend. Fingers crossed it’s mutual!

A special thank-you goes to Jen, who helped me ease my fears of being stuck in a dead-end job. “You don’t need to worry”, she said to me, “You’re young. You can live so many lives”. I guess I needed to hear these words from someone who left a 15-year career to enrol to pastry school, to believe that life will work out for me, too.

Day 2: Tell the story

The second day of FBC5 began with photographer Penny De Los Santos sharing her experience of documenting food and people from all over the world. There’s one memorable quote I will take with me: “It’s a privilege and a responsibility to photograph people. Honour them by telling their story”. Her encouragement to get to “where life really happens”, by considering the people and labour beyond a beautiful plate of food, was one of the most valuable pieces of advice of the day.

More inspiration was on the way, when a panel of attendees who published a cookbook appeared on stage. Veronica, author of Muy Bueno Cookbook, and Giulia of Juls’ Kitchen, linked their recipes to their memories, heritage and everyday life; as I listened to them, I felt a thought slowly forming in my mind. An idea for a book of my own. A storyline. Food for thought for the next couple of years, and definitely something to hold on to while the daily routine unfolds.

More afternoon tea treats were on the way, too. Although I wasn’t brave enough to try dipping strawberries in pepper, Petit Gateau‘s macarons and cakes were worth a second (and third) round.

Peppermongers Pepper Strawberries

Petit Gateau Chocolate Raspberry PastriesPetit Gateau Lemon LoafThe evening was all set for the launch of founder Bethany Kehdy‘s cookbook, The Jewelled Kitchen. What better way to present a book about Middle Eastern cuisine, than with a themed food feast?

The Jewelled Kitchen

Bethany Kehdy Jewelled Kitchen Signing

FBC5 Jewelled Kitchen Launch Middle Eastern FoodDay 3: Keep calm and binge on muffins

The last day of FBC5 provided us with yet more tips on how to make the most of our food projects. Dana Elemara‘s talk on how to start an artisan food business was particularly inspiring. Her tips were more than just professional advice: asking for help when we need it, focusing on what we feel is really valuable, and accepting that compromise and sacrifice may be necessary, are lessons that apply to all aspects of life. Simple as they may seem, we sometimes tend to forget them. I know I do – and Dana’s words were a reminder of how important they are.

Day 3 was also the day of CHObrunch: a speech by Chobani’s Director of Consumer Engagement Emily Schildt, followed by one hour of brunch awesomeness. Although I steered clear of salmon sandwiches, scrambled eggs and bacon bagels (I’m a sweet tooth, y’know), I had to try my CHObrunch contest-winning recipes, and the experience didn’t disappoint. At each bite of muffin or spoonful of parfait, the taste in my mouth was that of of the exciting weekends spent experimenting in my kitchen.

CHObrunch Honey Nut Muffins and Yogurt Granola Parfaits

FBC5 Brunch PlatterI’m slowly catching up with all the lovely blogs I discovered over the weekend (from even lovelier people!). This will probably be my last post until I come back from holidays in the homeland; in the meantime, I hope to hear from you. Have you been to Food Blogger Connect 5, and how was your experience? Chances are we already met – but if not, this could be a good excuse to have a chat!


22 thoughts on “My round-up of Food Blogger Connect 5

  1. Didn’t we pack so much into the weekend? I’m the same as you – the talks were great, some things less than ideal, but it’s the people that made the weekend for me – it’s just so lovely to meet you & other attendees, put real people to Twitter chats & blog comments and generally chat with such lovely bloggers!

    Posted by Emma | July 14, 2013, 1:00 PM
    • Totally agree! I can imagine talk topics being similar over the years, so the opportunity of meeting people that share and understand your passions is probably what makes the real difference. That, and what you build with all the things you took away from the event – insights, inspiring ideas, and new friendships. My head’s spinning like mad with new blog ideas, and I really hope to keep in touch with all you lovely people 🙂

      Posted by Iris | July 14, 2013, 1:50 PM
  2. Very well written post, and some fab pictures – great work! Looks like I missed out on some serious eating on the Sat and Sunday – DANG.. xx

    Posted by TheCutleryChronicles | July 14, 2013, 1:53 PM
    • Thank you Leyla! Shame you missed the Middle Eastern food on Saturday – hands down the best of the whole weekend. Hope the goodie bag is of some consolation, at least. Mine’s up in London and I’m sorely missing the chocolate coated almonds I haven’t yet tasted!

      Posted by Iris | July 14, 2013, 10:39 PM
  3. PS Sorry to hear you had shitty week beforehand. Curse the corporate pound we still need to chase..

    Posted by TheCutleryChronicles | July 14, 2013, 1:54 PM
  4. I can relate to your views and feelings SO much, this post actually made me feel quite emotional. I often wonder about work and what I am doing with my life, dreaming about something other than being in an office (culinary school!?). I am gutted I didn’t run into you on Saturday, it would have been great to meet you. Next year 🙂 (or if you every visit Surrey let me know!) xoxo

    Posted by Bake | July 14, 2013, 3:09 PM
    • Likewise – let me know if you’re ever back in London. I’d be delighted to meet one of the authors of such a cute blog! Until then, I hope FBC5 got your head spinning with new ideas too, and there’s a little something you can hold on to in order to make office life more bearable. Culinary school does sound like a dream to me – keeping my fingers crossed for you!

      Posted by Iris | July 14, 2013, 10:07 PM
  5. It’s my third FBC and I always derive so much inspiration, from lightbulb moments in talks to meeting old friends and new. My only regret this year is that I didn’t get to chat to as many new faces as I would have liked. Congratulations on your CHO brunch recipes – so delicious.

    Posted by Sally | July 14, 2013, 6:52 PM
    • Thanks again, and do feel free to give them a try, if you ever feel like bringing back memories of FBC5. Speaking of which, I just read your post on Bethany’s lamb rice with crispy potato base, and can foresee it will be a hard one to get out of my head…until I actually find some time to make it!

      Posted by Iris | July 14, 2013, 10:26 PM
  6. It was great to meet you! what a good round up! I felt exactly the same on day one! I hope your holiday is great!

    Posted by petra08 | July 14, 2013, 8:52 PM
    • It is being great so far – can’t wait to be at the seaside tomorrow! Great to meet you too, and I’m happy to hear that my post resonated with you. Day 1 was probably my favourite as far as the atmosphere is concerned 🙂

      Posted by Iris | July 14, 2013, 10:15 PM
  7. Excellent review. And of course you’ll find the perfect career for you. No matter how dreadful a job or experience, there’s always something you’ll learn and find useful at a later stage. Love your photos.
    PS: you should give the strawberries with black pepper a go. They’re gorgeous.

    Posted by hungrylarder | July 16, 2013, 5:30 PM
    • Yes – I’m regretting not having tried them now, I haven’t heard anything but positive feedback on them. Perhaps it’s time to buy some strawberries and dip them in the pepper samples I gathered at the event?

      Posted by Iris | July 21, 2013, 9:15 AM
  8. We’re so glad we could do your fabulous recipes justice at the CHObrunch! Hope work gets better for your soon, maybe time for that new food related career…?

    Posted by Chobani | July 25, 2013, 7:07 PM


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