Planning the International Food Blogger Conference New Orleans

by Andie Mitchell on August 25, 2011

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One very large part of what I do professionally is planning the International Food Blogger Conferences. I am, happy as happy can be, the lead organizer for Foodista.

Here’s how the conferences are born and raised:

We all pick a city.

We ask the community of food bloggers who they want to hear from and what they’d like to learn about. They sound off on a list of session topics we propose, because after all, what does the conference mean if it’s not valuable and absolutely enchanting to those attending?

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I collect those responses. I narrow them, I choose the sessions.

I accept proposals and ideas from food blogs around the world.

And then I choose the speakers. Who can inspire on this subject? Who has the most relatable, most enviable blogging path? Who’ll share their story and their advice, and allow attendees to leave feeling renewed of passion and creativity?

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When I’ve hemmed and hawed over the agenda and tweaked and twisted it just so, approximately seven hundred million times over,

I pen the final agenda. I schedule those sessions that were most requested by the community and I contact the speakers that must-simply must-speak on each subject.

I’m mindful of not using speakers that are too saturated in the community. I’m thoughtful of the value in welcoming a range of grassroots bloggers, cookbook authors and publishers, brands, and media.

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I write emails and make semi-confident phone calls to individuals who have secretaries for their secretaries and assistants for their assistant’s dog’s assistant.

I feel brazen.

I spend months scanning Twitter and thousands upon thousands of blogs and try to cultivate a series of sessions and presenters that I find captivating. What I’d want to learn, had I a moment to sit down at the conference, unclench my clipboard, return the color to my cheeks and knuckles, and dry the sweat from my brow. You know how intense I can be.

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And then, I most likely redo it, just in case my initial creation isn’t up to par with the perfection I’ve standardized.

I take two to three decades from my life contemplating the quality of content- the only thing that really matters in a weekend with the people I admire.

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Make it good.

Make it the best.

Give attendees an experience.

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I research the leading chefs, the most loved cafes and restaurants in the area where we’ve set the conference, and I ask that they kindly join me for a weekend festival of eating.

I make contacts with locals and ask which spots, which local favorites, simply shout the flavor of the area. I must have them there.

I talk po’boys and beignets and gumbo and jambalaya and crawfish and ettouffe in New Orleans, for months.

I talk farmer’s markets and fois gras and food trucks and famous chefs in Santa Monica, for months.

I feel as though I’ve eaten Louisiana and California, by the time the conference registration even opens

And then, I promote the speakers, the food, the sessions, and the sponsors on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs and billboards and ’bout every media source I can think of.

I am Social Media Manager, afterall. I know Twitter intimately. In another life, I *married Facebook.

*We divorced, twice.

I sweat and I stress and I fine tune every detail. Four hundred and thirty seven times.

But really,

I have an absolute ball.

I can’t tell you the high, the excitement of putting together a conference for friends, one that you’d dream to attend, had you not been the one to plan.

I can’t even explain how much fun and laughter goes into thinking that what you’re working on for months will ultimately be seen and enjoyed and hopefully loved by roughly 300 of the best food bloggers in the country.

I won’t be able to make you know the thrill of realizing you just spoke with James Oseland and bloggers you’ve followed and fawned over for years.

I arrived this week in New Orleans for the first of my 2011 International Food Blogger Conferences.

It’s been a pleasure to plan, and now, I’ll enjoy every drip drop of the experience to the fullest.

Fingers crossed and a million silent prayers that this weekend shows all the love I put into her :)

Photos by beadmobile, cbanck

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah D August 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Sounds amazing! Have a great time. I’m sure all of your hard work will pay off for all involved! :)

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh August 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

I’m sure it will be simply fabulous dahling! Have a wonderful time and can’t wait to hear about it!

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Johnny August 26, 2011 at 3:23 am

You are the best! KNOW YOU ARE THE BEST!! BE THE BEST!!!!
Rah rah rah hiss boom bah
There, you have been appropriately cheered on!!!
We all love you so I’m SURE they will, have a great time and bask in your great work!! :)

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Gitte August 26, 2011 at 3:35 am

Wish I could attend your arrangement, I’m sure it’ll be a blast! Could be fun next year maybe – looking forward to hearing about the 2012 arrangement ;)

Enjoy and have fun!

/Gitte

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Jen @ keepitsimplefoods August 26, 2011 at 5:33 am

Sounds like a lot of hard work, but will be a fabulous experience! I seriously need to get to NOLA for some good eats. It’s been too long! Have fun!

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Carol @ Lucky Zucca August 26, 2011 at 7:39 am

Good luck! And most importantly, have so much FUN!!!!

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Carole August 26, 2011 at 8:13 am

Oh, good luck to you! I’m sure it will be fabulous.

So, are you no longer on Facebook? I don’t see a link anywhere….

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sarah August 26, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’m sure it will be great! Have fun!

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Megan (Braise The Roof) August 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

Have an amazing time in New Orleans and enjoy the fruits of your labor! I’m so jealous- I love NoLa so much. If you want an awesome frozen Irish coffee (and I know you do- they’re amazing), go to my friend’s bar called Molly’s at the Market (on Decatur, right behind the French Market). Ask for Trey and tell him you’re a friend of mine. :)

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Sarah@The Flying ONION August 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Sounds so lovely!! I hope everything goes just as planned and better. Enjoy all of your hard work and effort this weekend! :D

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Alexa @ SImple Eats August 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

Good luck! I’m sure everything will go well. I really wish I could go…maybe next year!

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Gina August 26, 2011 at 10:25 am

Have a fantastic time and take it all in!!!

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Ellen Renee August 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I have always wanted to try a beignet – have one for me will you?

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Melissa August 27, 2011 at 7:59 am

Laise les bon temps roulle in N’awlins!! It will be fabulous.

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Nicole August 28, 2011 at 5:23 am

Your hard work will most definitely show! Have fun!

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Kristen, Sweetly August 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm

looks fantastic! i love the event-planning part of my job. scouting is pretty awesome, too. enjoy everything nola has to offer. i went for work last october, and decided i had to go back a few months later to explore with lots of free time.

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Brooke (Tea & Tofu) August 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Hi Andie,

I discovered your blog a few days ago and just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your story. You are an amazing inspiration and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Kayte August 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

I visited New Orleans with family who live there a few weeks ago and we visited the Creole Creamer. I’m sure you have already heard of it, but just in case you MUST go there! They make their own ice cream (dark chocolate ginger, marscapone lemon, heirloom tomato sorbet) and so many more “to die for flavors. http://www.creolecreamery.com. There is also a Carousel Bar that we didn’t get to try but looks pretty fun. http://www.yelp.com/biz/carousel-bar-new-orleans Have a great time in an amazing city!

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Lisa August 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I bet it was fabulous. I wish I could have been there.

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Nic August 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I respect your passion!

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Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

Hi Andie– The conference sounds amazing! My grandparents used to live in New Orleans and it’s one of my very favorite places.

Also, I just stumbled on your blog and wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying it already! I love the simplicity of your design, inspiring content and really delicious-looking recipes. Will be back for sure :)

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Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy August 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

I can’t wait to hear all about this shindig :)

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Mi-Young August 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hi Andie,
I loved being part of the IFBCNOLA and meeting you there.  Great job organizing and planning it.  If the IFBCNOLA was that good, I wonder what IFBC Santa Monica has to offer ;)  Hope to see you there.

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Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic August 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm

It sounds like an absolute blast and I only wish I could be there. Congrats on all your hard work! Enjoy!

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Sarah Jane MacMillan September 4, 2011 at 12:14 am

Hi Andrea!

I love your blog! I’ve never commented before but I’ve read for a while. I am actually blogging from Italy, but the idea of an International Food Blogger conference really intrigues me. I have just started though so I didn’t know about this one before hand.

Is it possible for people that aren’t officially invited to speak or participate to come? Does it cost a lot? Is there a website with info.

Thanks in advance! Keep up the good work you are amazing!

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Brittany @ LessBritt MoreLife September 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

This makes my heart smile so much!!!!! SO MUCH LOVE for my home state :)

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Kath September 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

How did I not know about this conference!? Looks like an incr-edible time. I love New Orleans!

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suki November 2, 2011 at 10:25 pm

i cannot wait for Santa Monica!

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