Here’s my quick recap of my Saturday at IFBC and in Seattle. It was such a jam packed conference day that I honestly don’t have much in the way of ‘things I ate’ outside of the conference during the day. But hold on until the end for my amazing dinner experience.
Saturday’s sessions at IFBC, for me anyway, were completely focused on Andrew Scrivani. Have you heard of him? He’s a professional food photographer for a small little publication called the New York Times. Andrew has presented at IFBC in the past and also does speaking sessions for CreativeLive, teaching people how to take photographs, how to build a food photography business and how to make your nicely composed photos look even better with post-production.
In the morning Chef John from FoodWishes.com and two local and expertly trained sushi chefs prepped some fresh salmon and plated it. Then Andrew picked a few conference members at random to work with him to photograph the finished dishes. And while I wasn’t keen on the fresh salmon part of it, Chef John and Andrew were hilarious to watch and listen to. It was a lot of fun.
Later in the afternoon, after lunch, Andrew had another session on Photography Workflow and how to turn our food photography ‘hobbies’ into a legitimate business in addition to our writing. The confidence he has that we will one day be good enough that people will be approaching us to take photographs of their food for publications or magazines or to sell as stock is nice. I mean, I don’t want to say never, but I don’t know that I have a desire to sell my photos. I do however desperately want to keep up with all the other fancy food bloggers with their professional photos so I am going to get that course from CreativeLive.
Can I just say … without being totally creepy … okay maybe a little bit creepy … I have a teeny tiny crush on Andrew Scrivani. Is it because I seem to always find Italian men to have crushes on (cough, Roberto Luongo)? Perhaps. Is it because I am in awe of his talent? Definitely. Let’s just leave it at that then, shall we?
Okay now on to the highlight of my entire conference. The Dine-Around Dinner by Urbanspoon. I personally think it was the most brilliant idea ever. A perfect way to satisfy so many tastes and palates without having to do one or two set menus in a conference room setting while showcasing local talent.
So these folks from Urbanspoon selected a bunch of amazing restaurants in Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods to have smaller groups of attendees dine at. I am not sure how many restaurants altogether were involved but there were three different groups of folks headed to the Madison Park neighborhood of Seattle with us. I was in Madison Park III and we were dining at … Cafe Flora! So I realize, I was just there for lunch on Thursday and I maybe would have liked to try a new restaurant that was vegetarian/vegan friendly, but honestly I loved my lunch at Cafe Flora so much that I was just as excited to have dinner there.
The chefs prepared a special menu for all the diners at each restaurant. They were considerate of special dietary needs and requests. So for me, when I registered for IFBC (and as my website obviously states) I selected gluten-free and vegan dining options. I had no idea how well fed I would have been this weekend especially at Cafe Flora.
We got to meet the owner, whose name escapes me now, and he explained how Cafe Flora believes in whole foods, natural foods and aren’t interested in fake meats and processed fake vegetarian foods. That’s something I can get behind for sure.
Since I was both gluten-free and vegan (the only one at the table I believe), I was provided with a separate appetizer platter of lentil pate, olives and pickles, served with a gluten-free vegan pita. They had yam fries with a spicy aioli that was both gluten-free and vegan. I was given a separate appetizer of coconut coated tofu to wrap with mint in lettuce leaves and a spicy Thai vinaigrette (everyone else got mushroom perogies). So good. At this point I was already so full but there was still half a meal left to enjoy. We had pizzas. The vegetarians and vegans got the grilled nectarine chimichurri pizza that I had ordered on Thursday. The gluten-free vegan pizza was a thin crust coated with a cashew cheese, fresh corn kernels and beautiful slices of heirloom tomatoes. Seems like an odd pizza but for me it was quite amazing. There were two salads – a vegan Caesar and a black rice and arugula with nectarine. My main entree was a fried green tomato, chili, roasted vegetable skewer and gluten-free vegan cornbread. The fried green tomato was amazing, coated with mashed potatoes and fried crisp. I am definitely going to be reinventing this one at home very soon. The dessert options were all vegan and gluten-free and I chose to take mine to go because I was just too full. I had the blackberry and peach crisp.
We were all so full by the end of our dinner we had to squeeze ourselves into the cab back to the hotel.
At that point in my travels to Seattle I have realized that I have eaten way more than I need to. I have exercised way less than I usually do. Despite that I still loved every minute of it.
I won’t be sharing about my adventures on Sunday because, well, there weren’t really any. I woke up late, felt sluggish, decided to laze around and catch up on some blogging. I had to pack and we headed back to Canada. On our way back up north we made a pit stop back in the University District to dine at Araya’s Place an all-vegan Thai place. They had a lunch buffet for $9.99 and I got my Thai fix. There was a novelty to being at an all vegan restaurant buffet. Most of the items were also gluten-free.
There were definitely things on my list that I wanted to do while here that I missed out on just because of time. What that tells me is that I need to come back here again, and more often. I think I can manage that. It’s a good thing that IFBC 2014 is being held in Seattle next year. Will you be there?
Thanks again to IFBC and Zephyr (and of course, all the sponsors who made it possible to have a low registration rate) for putting on an amazing conference yet again.