A Food Blog Conference By Any Other Name Would Not Be As Eat, Write, Retreat

Author Dan Category Thoughts Tags awesome, Canadian beef, eat write retreat, food bloggers, friends, vacations, Washington DC
While on my red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. this past week (I always slap myself for taking those late night flights), so many thoughts were passing through my mind. Many consisted of how I would ninja myself into a fancy VIP event at the White House, but also about the conference I was heading there to attend.

Eat, Write, Retreat promised to be a weekend full of hands-on workshops, expert panels, and, of course, food, lots and lots of food! This was Eat, Write, Retreat‘s inaugural conference, my first as well, so I was excited to see how it would all play out.

(note: All pictures courtesy of Kimmy Bingham, unless otherwise noted on image)

When I entered the Friday night meet and greet, I set out to prove that I was not a twitter recluse (aka chatty online/wallflower in person…Can boys be wallflowers? Anyway…). Turning on the charm, smile, and occasional wink, I was poised and ready to meet my fellow Eat, Write, Retreat-ers.

There is always this slight set of nerves that kick in before meeting someone off the internet in-person. You always wonder…’What if they turn out to be an axe-murderer?” or ‘What if they were lying online and actually turn out to be an interior design blogger?‘ You know, those kinds of things. Luckily, this conference turned out to be axe-murderer and design blogger free! I think. Jokes aside, I was genuinely amazed by how many great individuals I got to know over the three days that would follow.

Here are some key things that I took away from this weekend:

Never stop learning: I know that sounds infinitely cheesy, but after spending two hours in a writing workshop with Monica Bhide, I was inspired. She had a captivating presence, and I was fully receptive to the entire presentation. Taking a snippet from her workshop’s ‘homework’, whether it’s a new word every day, or a new story every week, being open to new experiences makes for a better writer.

Nothing happens over night: During a great panel session with Domenica Marchetti, Jennifer Perillo, Shauna James Ahern, and Jael McHenry I learned that if you do what you love, then the reward will come to you. The second you start to think things like: ‘I want more readers now!‘ or ‘I deserve a cookbook deal!‘ you’re compromising the quality behind your work. To steal a line from one of my favourite books, Shoeless Joe, ‘If you build it, they will come.’

Everyone has a story: I found that meeting countless individuals, so passionate about their writing, regardless of the focus, created a vested interest for myself in each one of them. It’s one thing to follow someone on Twitter, chat online, and read their blog posts, but when you’re standing in front of someone and hearing why they do what they do, write what they write, it really resonates. Not that online relationships are purely superficial, but there is something to be said about a real face-to-face conversation. Now, I can read these blogs through the person’s point of view, not the other way around. I kind of rambled there…does that make sense?
There is so much more I could talk about this weekend. Eating freshly steamed crabs at the D.C. fish market with fellow Canadians Ethan and Isabelle with our bare hands, having lunch with author Jael McHenry, touring the Washington monuments with D.C. local Maisha, or even cooking like show-offs with Mike and Kimmy during our CulinAerie culinary session.

I truly treasured each moment of this experience.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Casey Benedict and Robyn Webb for creating, and making, Eat, Write, Retreat such an amazing experience. Also to Canadian Beef for giving me (and the other four lucky Canadians, whole gang pictured below!) the opportunity to attend this conference. It was a weekend I will not soon forget!

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21 Comments to “A Food Blog Conference By Any Other Name Would Not Be As Eat, Write, Retreat”
Suzie the Foodie May 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm
Absolutely fantastic Dan! I love hearing about this opportunity and good for you for embracing it. Wonderful lessons to have learned and thank you for sharing your story and experience here so we could feel like we were there too.

Kimmy @ Lighter and Local May 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm
((hugs)) What an awesome experience! I’m so happy to have met you and cooked like rock stars with you. Please come to Boston soon, please. I will plan a trip to Calgary in return!

The Experimental Gourmand May 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm
Really great to meet you, too. Love the recap! I just put up my photos on the Facebook page.

Jael May 25, 2011 at 6:45 pm
So great to meet you, Dan! You don’t happen to have our ramen writeup, do you? Monica’s workshop was a real highlight for me. There’s always more to learn, more to do, room to grow. What a great takeaway.

Julie May 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm
Sounds so great – bummed to have missed it!

Dan May 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm
I definitely will Kimmy. I’m thinking late August or mid-Sept? 🙂

Dan May 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm
I’ll check those out tonight!

Dan May 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm
I do actually! I was going to write it up at the end of the EWR post, but I had left the paper on my table at home. I’m going to add it in tonight when I get home from work!

Betty Ann of Asian in America May 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm
Great recap ! You captured it so accurately! And yes, I truly believe “everyone has a story” and it was fun to hear everyone’s at Eat Write Retreat.

Colleen (Souffle Bombay) May 26, 2011 at 8:11 am
So nice to have met you at such a wonderful event! You are right, one of my favorite parts was in fact hearing others and their stories!

Ethan May 26, 2011 at 2:00 pm
I wasn’t sure what I got myself into when you fell over the table after our Thursday lunch, but I blamed it on the uneven surface;) It was a great weekend getting to know you and everyone else.
Look forward to seeing you tweet more often now!

domenicacooks May 26, 2011 at 2:14 pm
What a lovely writeup, Dan. Funny, too! So glad to meet you in DC. Let me know if you make the cicerchiata!

Dan May 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm
I am planning on it! Very soon. Don’t worry, there will be a post about it, and you will be tagged! 🙂

Dan May 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm
Shh about the table…

Dan May 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm
@Colleen & @Betty Ann I wish we could of talked some more. I look forward to reading your blogs. 🙂

Five Canadians who took over Washington DC « Beefinfo’s Blog May 27, 2011 at 11:07 am
[…] Dan from Dan’s Good Side […]

Beth @ Kitchen Minions May 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm
What a great recap! It was great to meet you last weekend!

eatwriteretreat.com » Blog Archive » Eat Write Retreat 2011 May 28, 2011 at 9:27 am
[…] Dan’s Good Side “There is always this slight set of nerves that kick in before meeting someone off the internet in-person.” […]

Renee @kudoskitchen May 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm
Hi Dan,
My name is Renee and I painted the tile you won for your blog at #EWR11 . So cool to see it pictured here with you. You look really happy with it and that makes me glad. Look and sounds like you had a wonderful time at the conference. Congratulations on going and winning 🙂
Take care ane enjoy your tile!

Amanda May 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm
Great post Dan – really enjoyed meeting you and hanging out at the “bar” Sunday afternoon.

Joana Gomes May 30, 2011 at 12:51 am
Ever read the book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”? It’s about a boy and he’s the wallflower, so I guess it is possible for boys and men to be wallflowers haha. Anyway, love the post and the tips.