I’m just coming back from Austin, Texas, where I attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) annual conference. For those of you who don’t know the IACP, it’s a “professional society of individuals employed in, or providing services to, the culinary industry.” I became a member last fall, after Stephanie (Wasabimon) convinced me it was the best all-round association for food professionals and that the annual conference was not to be missed for the learning and business opportunities it provides.
As soon as I became a member, I realized I now had access to an incredible wealth of knowledge. I was amazed at the other members’ experience and felt proud to be part of this new community. I also felt it kind of “legitimized” my food blogging hobby and confirmed the choice I made to target my graphic design and translation services toward the culinary industry.
A week ago, I flew to Austin for the long-awaited conference. After hearing such good things about the annual conference, and attending a regional IACP conference in New York last February, I had high expectations. The event spanned over four full days, and my schedule was composed of sessions that all promised to teach me something new. The speakers list was impressive, featuring A-list bloggers, authors, chefs, photographers and food professionals. I expected to be star-struck and entertained, to learn lots and to have fun.
Today, I’m happy to report that the conference lived up to the hype. The organization and management of events was top notch, sessions went deep under the surface, attendees were kind, infinitely interesting and always open to meet and hang out with someone new. I learned a lot, met amazing people and made incredible business contacts. I’ve come back home with renewed motivation and a long list of project ideas that will fuel my career and business development for the next year and beyond.
Most of the sessions I attended perfectly targeted skills I wanted to improve upon, but the following ones were especially fulfilling:
- Food Photography Workflow for Pros & Seasoned Amateurs Alike
Speaker: Scott Martin
Had a life-changing educational session about Adobe Lightroom. Benefited from informed recommendations and wise tips given by an amazing teacher.
- Experts Are In: New Media, Blog to Book
Speaker: Shauna Ahern
Was lucky to attend an intimate session led by a passionate story-teller. She showed genuine interest and investment in everyone’s personal story and career aspirations and provided generous advice.
- Finding & Crafting a Great Story
Speakers: Penny De Los Santos, Daniel Klein, Kim Severson
Discovered the video blog A Perennial Plate and its creators’ amazing reporting talent; was mesmerized (once again) by Penny’s stories and photographs, and laughed a lot, thanks to Kim’s witty quotes and her legendary interviewing talent.
Daniel Klein (The Perennial Plate), Penny De Los Santos, Kim Severson: Finding & Crafting a Great Story.
- What French Cuisine Can Offer Modern Cooks: A Cooking Demonstration and Interview
Speakers: Jacques Pépin, Amanda Hesser
Saw and met talented, award-winning Amanda Hesser for the first time and enjoyed a demonstration (and yummy tasting) by the legendary man who hosted the first cooking show I ever watched.
- The Incredible Expanding Cookbook: How Print & Digital Connect Today and Tomorrow
Speakers: Dorie Greenspan, Lorena Jones, Rux Martin
Heard the infinitely generous Dorie and let her contagious enthusiasm reach my heart, and learned more about the way electronic books and apps complement (not replace) cookbooks, from the publisher’s perspective.
- Food Blogging: Beyond the Basics
Speakers: Elise Bauer, Kalyn Denny, Lisa Stone
Heard Lisa’s objective and practical advice and viewed interesting statistics about readers and bloggers today; met two very successful star-bloggers who shared their story, experience and advice.
Lisa Stone (BlogHer), Elise Bauer, Kalyn Denny: Food Blogging, Beyond the Basics.
- Harnessing the Right Light for Digital Food Photography
Speakers: Diane Cu, Todd Porter
Learned how to see and understand light in a different way, which will enable me to become a better photographer.
Although the full four days were memorable, there were moments that I simply won’t ever forget:
- Sharing my room with the funny and talented Rachel, making my trip even more interesting from early morning to late night;
- Having “Pickle-Back Shots” on my first night in Austin, on 6th street, with Rachel and Kristen, like we were in college again;
Pickle-Back Shot: A shot of Whiskey washed down by a shot of pickle juice. It’s weird, but it kinda works!
- Participating in a passionate discussion about sharing meals around the world and at home at Wednesday’s night owl session with chef Duc Tran (The Mango Rooms) and photographer Penny De Los Santos;
- Getting rid of that nonsense shyness and chatting with the lovely Dianne Jacob;
- Petting live armadillos at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (warm, fuzzy and cute! see this short video);
- Enjoying Texas’ finger-licking barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine;
The best brisket I had in Austin, at the Boggy Creek Farm Saturday BBQ, by J. Mueller BBQ
- Dressing up for a chic cocktail reception at the Driskill Hotel and the IACP Awards ceremony;
- Asking Jacques Pépin his opinion about new media during his cooking demonstration:
Me – “I notice you have a Twitter account…”
J.P. – “I do?”
Me – “How to you adapt to new media?”
J.P. – “I don’t!”
- Shaking Jacques Pépin’s hand, presenting myself, and chatting in French with the legendary man, at the book fair;
- Meeting and chatting with a host of talented authors at the book fair;
- Being hugged and treated like a friend by Dorie Greenspan;
- Developing and deepening friendships with Nikki, Kristen, Amy, David, Karen, Mary, Lee, Ben, Rev and Jessica;
- Having show-worthy Flaming Dr Pepper shots (check out the video!) at Touché Bar on 6th street and late-night slices of delicious piping hot pizza from a truck with Rachel, Rev and Kristen.
You’ll understand that I’m coming back from Austin happy, touched and changed. I will be a proud IACP member for a long, long time.
P.S. Stay tuned for fabulous signed book giveaways! Coming up this week.
P.P.S. For those of you who missed the conference, a video pass is available so you can watch 34 of the best sessions online for $69.99.
This is the list of people that I met and shaken hands with at the conference. There were hundreds of other professionals at the conference. I hope to meet them at the 2012 Annual Conference in New York!
- Amanda Hesser, author and co-founder, Food 52
- Amelia Levin, writer, editor, chef
- Amy McCoy, blogger and cookbook author, Poor Girl Gourmet
- Anne Brockhoff, blogger, Food Drink Life
- Audrey Nelson, manager, Target
- Benjamin Rhau, blogger, You Fed a Baby Chili?
- Clara Buerkle, food stylist
- Clare Barboza, photographer and artist
- Daniel Klein, chef and video blogger, The Perennial Plate
- David J. Ciancio (a.k.a. Rev), blogger, Burger Conquest
- David Dandekian, photographer, writer and blogger, Eat Drink RI
- David Hagen, photographer, Kalman & Pabst
- Denise Vivaldo, food stylist, Food Fanatics
- Diane Cu & Todd Porter, Photographers, White on Rice Couple
- Dorie Greenspan, cookbook author and blogger
- Duc Tran, chef/owner, The Mango Rooms
- Eagranie Yuh, writer, The Well-Tempered Chocolatier
- Elise Bauer, blogger, Simply Recipes
- Jacques Pépin, chef and cookbook author
- Jane Evans Bonacci, recipe editor, developer, tester and food writer, The Heritage Cook
- Janet Helm, food and nutrition strategist and blogger, Weber Shandwick | Nutrition Unplugged
- Jessica Merchant, food writer, blogger, recipe developer, How Sweet It Is
- Joe Yonan, The Washington Post food editor and cookbook author, Serve Yourself
- Judith von Prockl-Chng, culinary tourism, IACP award winner, Gourmet on Tour
- Kalyn Denny, blogger, Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Karen J. Covey, blogger, Gourmet Recipes for One
- Kian Lam Kho, culinary instructor and blogger, Red Cook
- Kim Severson, New York Times food journalist and author, Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life
- Kristen Hess, food writer, stylist, photographer, Artful Gourmet
- LeeAnne Wright, food editor, Canadian Family/St. Joseph Media
- Lee Clayton Roper, cookbook author, A Well-Seasoned Kitchen
- Lisa Haddon, culinary instructor, William Angliss Institute
- Lisa Stone, CEO/co-founder, BlogHer.com
- Lorena Jones, publishing director, food & drink digital, Chronicle Books
- Madison Mayberry, blogger, Espresso and Cream
- Mary Rolph Lamontagne, blogger and culinary instructor, The Good Food Quest
- Megan Myers, blogger, Stetted
- Nader Khouri, photographer
- Nealey Dozier, recipe developer, writer and blogger, Dixie Caviar
- Nikki Gardner, photographer and blogger, Art and Lemons
- Paula Shoyer, food writer, cooking teacher and recipe tester, The Kosher Baker
- Penny De Los Santos, photographer
- Rachel Barbarotta, social media consultant and blogger, The Fabulous Foodie
- Rachel King, blogger, Blinded by the bite!
- Rux Martin, senior executive editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Shauna Ahern, blogger and cookbook author, Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef
- Scott Martin, photographer, Onsight
- Shefaly Ravula, culinary instructor, Shef’s Kitchen
- Susi Gott Seguret, culinary instructor, Seasonal School of Culinary Arts
- Terrence J. Pranses, marketing research, Pranses Research Services
- Wendy Holloway, culinary tourism, Flavor of Italy
- Zoe Bartlett, blogger, Intentional Table