This bit all too often gets tacked onto the end of a post so I’m going to start by thanking the committee members of Eat Drink Blog 4. It was through their massive effort and the generosity of many sponsors that this year’s conference was the same resounding success as its predecessors but at the same time, an entirely unique experience. Despite this being my third EDB, I still came away newly informed, inspired and surer than ever that I love what I do. Oh, and I also got fed. A lot.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that #EDB13 came to fruition via the sheer enthusiasm of one Perth food blogger. Ai-Ling (of Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse) was keen to bring Eat Drink Blog to Perth and by the time we disbanded at Adelaide after last year’s conference, she resolved to realise what the rest of us only supposed might happen one day in WA (aka Wait-Awhile).
With what sounds to have been a lot of brain-storming and moments of stress for Ai-Ling and the committee (Matt, Bri, Chris and David), Eat Drink Blog took place last weekend, welcoming 80 delegates from around Australia. Held at Perth City Farm, this inner-city farm and growers market was an apt venue for a conference that involved discussions about buying and eating locally sourced ingredients.
Capping off the day was an intimate, pop-up style restaurant that catered to every taste; from empanadas and Thai delights, to rib burgers and delectable icy poles. Keeping us socially lubricated was a number of lovely beverage sponsors who kept our wine, cider, beer and gin glasses full. We knew not to overdo it however as we all had one of three different masterclasses to attend the following day. I’ll blog separately about my pastry masterclass with pâtissier extraordinaire, Emmanuel Mollois, along with a recipe.
Full write-ups about Eat Drink Blog 4 will be plentiful so I will post a link to all related blog posts in due course, should anyone be interested but as for me, I thought I’d simply wind up my own post with a list of things learnt, along with personal highlights from this year’s conference.
Working with PR = Selling your soul?
While the love of food unites food bloggers, it seems the thing that polarises us is the topic of working with PR agencies or taking on sponsored work. Speakers Cynthia (The Food Pornographer) and Phil (The Last Appetite) presented their case for and against respectively, and the ensuing debate was pretty enlightening.
Many food bloggers will not accept any form of sponsorship. I am not sure if it’s for the exact same hardline reasons as Phil (he believes sponsorship leads to a biased view of the object being blogged about) but I do appreciate the point of keeping blogs simple and ‘pure’. Not introducing a third party into your blog means your conversations remain between blogger and reader.
I personally don’t have an issue with sponsored blogs or bloggers working with PR as long as it’s done with integrity and selectiveness. I suppose there’s the fear that the actions of some less discerning bloggers may cast an erroneous view of all bloggers as whores to the PR machine but I don’t think it’s warranted. If a blogger has crossed the line then they’ll soon know as readers are pretty vocal with their comments, or they simply stop visiting.
I’ve enjoyed working with a number of businesses and PR agencies without feeling like I’ve sold out. I’ve only collaborated where I felt the end result would benefit my readers in some way, as well as me or the brand/business initiating the collaboration. My ramblings and recipes have blessed me with some readers in the Blogosphere and I’m grateful to every visitor to Gastromony, so if opportunities come up whereby I can share the love, then it’s the least I can do.
And yes Phil, I have used and reviewed things bought out of my own pocket, not to mention the ingredients to make the food I blog about. Even if I’m given a product to use for a giveaway, I include a few personal gifts too. That’s just how I roll, as they say.
Eating Local. Buying Local.
In the last couple of years there’s been a gradual shift in thinking where sourcing food in Australia is concerned. ‘Buy Australian’ has always been the tagline for the manufacturing industry in the face of cheaper imports but I’m disappointed that ethos is now being touted in the fresh produce sector too. It’s a shame that we no can no longer assume that the apple we buy at the corner store is locally grown.
Combatting the influx of cheaper ‘fresh’ produce from interstate and overseas is the rise of urban growers’ markets. I’ve always enjoyed going to the two markets closest to my house and getting my week’s worth of fruit and veges directly from the people who grew them. Other than that, I like that you get an accurate gauge of what is in season or not. You also don’t realise what a sanitised view of fresh produce you get at a supermarket until you come across mutil-pronged carrots and misshapen (but still delicious) pears at a growers’ market.
I still rely on supermarkets for sundries and the occasional emergency capsicum for $3.40 (a bagful at a market costs the same or less), but I’m moving towards buying locally where possible. I currently enjoy a weekly delivery of fruit and veges via Aussie Farmers Direct which ensures I’m always well stocked and it’s encouraged me to be more creative with veges. Winning!
I <3 Blogging
I’ve been blogging for almost four years now and attending another Eat Drink Blog has affirmed that I still love what I do, how I do it and, most importantly, that the person I’m primarily catering to is still me. I started Gastromony as a way to diarise my life. I like to look back on posts and reminisce about the things I got up to at any given time. The blog has evolved a little over time but I’m ever mindful of why I started it.
I do therefore understand the misgivings about bloggers who dabble with sponsored posts. Are you writing for you, a PR agency, or your audience? At the conference, Adam Roberts (The Amateur Gourmet) mentioned that early food blogs had a purity that has somewhat diminished these days now that blogging has a bigger and more visible role in mainstream media. There are certainly many fabulous opportunities for popular bloggers (though few and far between) but there are much easier ways to get a book deal than to start and maintain a blog.
Ultimately, I think there are only two parties you need to write for: yourself, and then the people who read your blog. I put ‘yourself’ first since you have to love what you’re doing to continually produce quality blog posts. Once you start writing more for other reasons (whether that be for PR, or to increase hits, or to follow a trend), you will inevitably stop writing wholly for yourself and what you enjoy or believe in. It might work for some bloggers but I doubt it’s sustainable for most.
So my tip? Blog as though no one is reading :)
- Fiiiinally getting to eat Marcelita’s Empanadas again. Can these beauties get any crispier?
- Listening to a great panel of speakers share their thoughts on current foodie topics.
- Custard & Co Ciders: so nice to find a local cider that is packed full of flavour and low on the sweet scale.
- Emmanuel Mollois’ pastry masterclass: always amazing watching a master at their work. Choux!!
- I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose but EDB4 had its share of eye candy! Hot baristas + hot chefs + hot lawyer + 36C day = Agghhh!!
- Little Sweet Baking and Red Hot Spatula kept our blood sugar level in check and I thank them profusely for that.
- 5 Senses Coffee – deliverer of caffeine. Much, much required caffeine…
- Delish Ice’s icy poles hit the spot for me. I wanted one of each but I showed restrained and just had three…