Blogger Conference Review and Chicago Weekend

Travel
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Chicago Street Image

Typically, Thursdays on In Good Taste mean “Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.”

What a lot of you don’t know is that I cheat on the challenge.

I know I just outed myself, but in a normal week, there is never a guarantee that I’ll actually have the time to bake a fifteen-hour loaf of bread from start to finish.

So I bake ahead. Two, three weeks in advance, I bake two or three types of bread in a week so that I have time to write the posts and spend the next few weeks eating them sharing them with friends and family.
But not this week. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I was in Chicago at an annual blogger conference this weekend, where Kalyn challenged me to use my technological savviness to send updates surrounding the conference. There was no time to bake.
This year, there was a lot of drama at the conference, most of which I was blissfully unaware of until Sunday when I started reading stories about women who were dissatisfied with the energy at the conference this year and who felt that the presence of brand sponsorship was distracting from the intended purpose of the conference: networking and community building.
I didn’t notice this to be a particular problem, because for the most part, the conference met my general expectations and I still felt a sense of community, even if I had to look a little more closely to find it.
Chicago River
The Sheraton Hotel where the conference took place was right on the Chicago River, a pleasant location located within blocks of bustling Michigan Avenue.
I visited friends in Chicago for the few days leading up to BlogHer and worked from my company’s office downtown, so by the time Thursday rolled around I was feeling pretty comfortable with the city and ready to spend some quality time with the lovely ladies of the blogosphere.

With Dine & Dish Inn Cuisine Perfect Pantry

The highlight of the weekend was spending time with bloggers who I know in real life but don’t have the opportunity to see very often, and meeting bloggers for the first time who you feel like you know already.

On Thursday night I had dinner with Kristen from Dine & Dish, Sandie from Inn Cuisine and Lydia from The Perfect Pantry at an Asian bistro that was slightly off the beaten path but perfect for good conversation and vegetable pad thai.

With Cora Steamy Kitchen and Pioneer Woman Dinner
Friday night after a busy day of conference sessions, I attended a food blogger dinner at a Chicago institution, Greek Islands.
The food was great (especially the pastitsio) but the best part was catching up with Cora from Cora Cooks, who I met at a conference in Boston in October, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen and Ree from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!, both of whom are even more personable in real life than they are on their blogs.
Angie Lisa Maris at BlogHer
The night didn’t end after dinner, because if there is one thing bloggers like to do, it’s party. The final destination of the night was a party hosted my MamaPop at the Sheraton, where there was a cash bar, a life-sized cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson and a giant cake shaped like a unicorn.
So, no complaints on this end.
I hung with Lisa from Elle Michelle Unedited and Angie from Angilio and if you read their blogs, they’re just as much fun as you think they are.
Kitchen Girl Panini Happy Dine&Dish Inn Cuisine
Saturday brought some more fabulous foodies into town, including Gudrun from Kitchen Gadget Girl and Kathy from Panini Happy. Kristen’s two-month old baby Leah had a great time. She managed to sleep through a lot of the conference and was even solicited by Paula Deen.
Me with Jess from Everyday Adventures of Me in the City

Saturday evening brought more parties, where Jessica showed off a sassy pink feather boa.

Before I continue, it should be noted that by Saturday night, I would have been just as happy to have crawled into my luscious hotel bed, ordered something fattening from room service and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

But, I found myself headed to a party that’s become somewhat of a conference tradition: The CheeseburgHer Party. I’ll spare you the photos, but Flickr has more than a few pictures tagged to fully illustrate the silliness that results from putting a few hundred women in a room with wine and cheeseburgers.
Overall? I think I like Chicago.
If you went to the conference, feel free to share your own experiences and if you didn’t, feel free to chime in about what you think makes for a successful event of this nature.
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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    August 6, 2009 at 5:01 am

    It was wonderful meeting you Maris! Your site is fantastic! Just delicious. 🙂
    I had a great time at BlogHer! I think that bad news just “sells” and spreads faster and that is why the drama got out there so quickly. For the majority of us, I think we had a great time of friendship and networking. I will definitely be in New York!

  • Reply
    jamie
    August 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    It was awesome seeing you again Maris!

  • Reply
    Kerstin
    August 1, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Sounds like you had an amazing time! I love meeting food bloggers too, they are such a fun bunch! And I completely miss Chicago, we used to live there and I want to move back.

  • Reply
    Christina
    July 31, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    This post is actually my first time reading about BlogHer. It sounds (and looks) like so much fun. I’m definitely going to check out getting tix for next year. I heard they’re sometimes pretty hard to get!

  • Reply
    Sarah Caron
    July 31, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    It sounds like an awesome time. I am really excited that BlogHer is going to be in our neck of the woods next year! I cannot wait to go (and that is the best excuse to stay in NY for a weekend EVER). Are you going to San Francisco?

  • Reply
    katelin
    July 31, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    it was so great meeting you and hanging out with you. definitely will be looking into some of your recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    Lara (Thinspired)
    July 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Thanks for sharing about your experience! I’ve actually on read about it on a couple of other blogs, so it’s nice to read and pretend I was there 😉 I heard the swag was awesome. Cute pictures!

  • Reply
    magda
    July 30, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    So glad you had an awesome time! And I always seem to be among the last to catch on to any kind of drama : )
    I’m in Chicago now,for work–wish it could have been a week earlier! I’m staying on Michigan, so your landscape pictures are looking wildly familiar.
    (Don’t know how I missed your blog move, either! I was wondering my reader wasn’t updating anymore!)

  • Reply
    Nutmeg Nanny
    July 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Oh how neat. If it’s in NYC next year I just might be able to go…

  • Reply
    thatShortChick
    July 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

    you got great pictures! and I love your dress in the picture with you&ang.
    Where there any sessions/panels that revolved around food bloggers?

  • Reply
    kat
    July 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Sounds like you had a great time. I’ve heard a lot both hit & miss about this year & last years conventions.

  • Reply
    Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
    July 30, 2009 at 7:40 am

    It was so much fun to spend time with fellow food bloggers at BlogHer, both the ones I knew before and the ones I met at the conference. Thanks for a great report on your experience there.

  • Reply
    Daryl
    July 30, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Looks like a great time with some very awesome people.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    July 30, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Aww looks like you really had a great time! And nice to see pics of the bloggers that I’ve spoken to via their blogs but not in real life. Looks like a fun crowd!

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