BlogHer Food ’13: A Recap

By Hana Bieliauskas

In early June, I headed down to Texas (my first trip ever to the Lone Star State!) to attend the BlogHer Food conference in Austin, which is an annual event hosted by the BlogHer Network, attended by about 600 prominent female food bloggers from across the country. And there’s food—a LOT of food!

I helped organize two events for clients in Austin, which, of course, featured delicious food and were attended by some absolutely fabulous food bloggers (you know who you are). These are the ladies I credit for inspiring me to venture every so often beyond my glamorous smoothie and/or salad dinner routine and actually turn on my oven to try a new recipe.

On a freezing cold day this past January, I got an email that BlogHer had selected my proposal to speak in Austin about how bloggers can work with brands and PR agencies to form mutually beneficial relationships. I didn’t hesitate for a minute before responding, “YES!”

So, six months later, on a 100-degree day in Austin, I served on a fantastic panel with some incredibly knowledgeable thought leaders in food blogging and PR: Jim Lin (Ketchum PR), Julie Deily (The Little Kitchen), and Kari Dilloo (Bing) and moderated by Natanya Anderson (Whole Foods). We chatted about how bloggers can create a complete digital presence that a brand can leverage; how bloggers and brands can form win-win relationships; how bloggers should approach brands, and so much more—our 1.5 hours just flew by! I could not have asked for a more fun group—I definitely learned a thing or two from them. Watch a blog recap and video of the panel here.

So excited to be a speaker at BlogHer Food ’13!

I have described BlogHer Food to my friends and family as “a three-day foodie extravaganza with more food, drink and parties than you’ve ever seen in one place”—in other words, it was incredible. There were a few times when I just didn’t know what to see, eat or do next. Some of my blogger friends created spreadsheets of all the events, just to keep track of where they were going when, which honestly was genius.

The Iowa CornQuest Reunion lunch, hosted by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, was a gathering of bloggers who participated in the popular Iowa CornQuest blogger tour 2011-12 (which CMA and I have helped with). The CornQuest alums were invited to bring friends along to join the fun, and Iowa Corn donated $10 for each guest to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas to help fight hunger in the local community. The Peached Tortilla, rated among the top food trucks in Austin and in the top 101 nationally, catered the lunch, held at a park across the street from the Hilton Austin, where BlogHer Food was held. The Peached crew even got creative and invented an especially corn-y menu and centerpieces for us. I have been craving a curried pulled squash taco ever since…

Some of the fabulous food bloggers who attended the Iowa CornQuest reunion lunch with The Peached Tortilla food truck.

I also had a chance to give bloggers a taste of my home state: Ohio! At the Taste of Ohio Wine & Cheesecake Pre-Party, the American Dairy Association Mideast and the Ohio Poultry Association partnered to pair delicious Ohio State Fair award-winning cheesecakes (Buckeye is to die for—literally), Ohio cheeses (including my favorite—Guggisberg Swiss) and other delicious appetizers with a number of different wine varieties. It was a delicious way to start the final evening of the conference and prepare for the conference closing bash at Stubbs BBQ!

Lovely food and wine pairings at the Taste of Ohio Wine & Cheesecake Party!

My favorite part of the trip? Getting to mix and mingle with so many of my favorite food bloggers and clients over delicious conversations, food and drinks, of course. But, I also did have some time to explore Austin, which I’ve added to my list of favorite cities. I enjoyed an absolutely delicious dinner at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill (our clients have excellent taste), visited the amazing Whole Foods flagship store to sample a few Texas wines, caught a local jazz band at The Elephant Room,  took morning runs by the Texas State Capitol Building and Ladybird Lake, and said “hey” to Willie Nelson. Let’s just say, I was ready for a nap when I got back to Columbus!

A few photos from my Austin adventure.

Now, I just want to know: Where in the world is BlogHer Food going to be held in 2014? I, for one, am counting down until Round Two…

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