I recently returned from BlogHer Food '10 where, as expected, I met fabulous new friends, connected with fabulous old friends, and ate fabulous food. A few unexpected things happened too.
Here are nine things I learned at BlogHer Food '10:
1. While attending an informative session on food styling, an attendee asked, "What can I do to make brown, gloppy food like beef stew look good?" The panelists' collective reply: Nothing. After the laughter subsided, Tami Hardeman of Running With Tweezers offered this advice: Surround ugly food with pretty props: a colorful bowl, a funky spoon, or a textured napkin. Never underestimate the power of sprinkled parsley.
Dorie Greenspan, Susan Russo, and Elise Bauer
2. Next time you're creatively stymied, stop everything and go for a walk. That's what baking goddess Dorie Greenspan does when she needs to spark her creativity. "It works every time!" she told me.
3. David Leite of Leite's Culinaria told us it's OK to say "no." Working for free or for minimal payment isn't furthering bloggers' careers. Say "no," and most times, they'll come back with a better offer.
Susan Russo, Ree Drummond, and Garrett McCord
4. The dazzlingly down-to-earth Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, reminded her audience that you can't be everything to everybody. Choose the media that best suits your talents: Are you a word wizard? Write. Do you come alive in front of the camera? Do video. Do you have great interviewing skills? Hello, podcasts.
5. The talented and beautiful Anupy Singla, author of The Indian Slow Cooker, understands that many home cooks are intimidated by Indian spices and cooking. So she created spice packets, small bundles of 5 essential Indian spices, that will get anyone cooking Indian. Demystify something for people, and they will love you. They'll also buy your book.
6. Diane of the darling White on Rice couple told bloggers that "Great food photography isn't about fancy gear; it's about light." She encouraged us to walk around our homes to find the best sources of natural light for food photography, even if it's in the bedroom, or -- GASP! -- the bathroom.
7. Smile. Say hello. To everyone. Wear comfortable shoes. Know when to walk away from the Scharffen Berger table.
Lunching with Ben Rhau, Tara Dahill, Cheryl Sternman Rule, and Katie Goodman.
8. Katie Goodman of Good Life Eats, who has a mega-watt smile, taught me to always carry a WISP, a single use mini toothbrush, in my purse. When you're on a panel after lunch, like I was, you want people to remember what you said, not what you ate.
9. The food gods appreciate irony. While at BlogHer Food '10, I received a call from my doctor informing me that I tested positive for celiac disease. Not only can I no longer eat pasta and pizza, but I also have to change my Twitter bio, which currently reads, "I eat gluten."
Here are more posts about BlogHer Food '10 you might enjoy:
Revelations: Fed Up With Lunch
Guide to Conference Etiquette: 5 Second Rule
BlogHer Food: The Love Fest: Will Write for Food
Memorable Moments from BlogHer Food '10: Panini Happy
Defining Success: Dine and Dish
BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco: The Italian Dish
Want more? Check out Liveblog at BlogHer.com.