Frugal Foodie Mama: Why You Need to Make the Food & Wine Conference Happen in 2016

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why You Need to Make the Food & Wine Conference Happen in 2016

As a brand ambassador for the 2015 Food & Wine Conference, I was provided a conference ticket at a discounted rate. All opinions (and occasional droolings) stated below are my own.
Already looking ahead to 2016 for the must-attend food blogger conferences? Come check out my 7 reasons Why You Need to Make the Food & Wine Conference Happen in 2016. #FWCon
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When it comes to which food blogger conferences I chose to attend, I would like to say that I am pretty picky. I really have to justify the expense of the conference and the traveling involved as well as the time that I will be spending away from my family. That is probably why in my over 3 years of blogging I have only attended 3 food blogger conferences so far. Would I like to attend more of them and travel more and learn more? Well, yes! :) But like I said above, they cost money and have to be worth the stress of finding child care for my youngest while I am away and my husband is at work. So far, I can say unequivocally that all 3 blogger conferences I have attended have been 100% worth it. 

After hearing so many good things about the Food & Wine Conference from many of my food blogger friends online, I decided to apply for a brand ambassadorship with the conference. I had no idea if I would make the cut, but I decided that if I did I would find a way to make this conference happen this year. And let me tell you all something- I am so glad that I landed a spot as a brand ambassador! Not only did I get to attend an amazing food blogger conference, but I also was able to be a brand ambassador representing Wisconsin Cheese. I mean, you all know me by now. I love my cheese, so it was a match made in heaven.

And speaking of cheese, let's just get to reason #1 why I think you all need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016... the food! I mean, how can you have a Food & Wine Conference without all the food? ;) And luckily for all of those in attendance, there was plenty of it! It started with the Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek on Friday evening where we got to sample delicious offerings from each of the restaurants at the resort. 

But by far my favorite meal of the entire weekend was the poutine bar we had for lunch on Saturday! Sponsored by Idaho Potato Commission and Wisconsin Cheese, every kind of poutine imaginable was served...
The Poutine Bar sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Wisconsin Cheese at the 2016 Food & Wine Conference #FWCon

For those of you not familiar with poutine, let me enlighten you for a sec. It is a dish that originated in Canada and is basically french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. But no, no. We were not served plain ole poutine at the Food & Wine Conference, folks. We were fed gourmet poutine... ;)
The Poutine Bar sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Wisconsin Cheese at the 2016 Food & Wine Conference #FWCon

Among all the amazing poutine dishes we got to sample, I have to say that three really stood out for me. From left to right- The Hippy Dip Poutine started with roasted home fries that were smothered in a Wisconsin 3-Cheese Sauce, a roasted mushroom gravy, and braised kale & spinach. The Chicken & Waffle Poutine happened to be my absolute favorite which probably doesn't come to a shock to most of you who are already well aware of my love for southern food. I mean, how could they go wrong with waffle fries topped with yellow cheddar curds, fried chicken, and maple syrup? ;) And then finally, the Montreal Poutine- classic french fries were covered in white cheese curds, a classic gravy, short ribs, & chives. I have seriously been going through poutine withdrawals since I left the conference. Trust me when I say that some copycat recipes will be in the works soon, friends.

Okay, there will be more on the food later, but let's get to reason #2 why I think you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the accommodations...
The Food & Wine Conference is held at the luxurious and spacious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. #FWCon

The conference is held at the luxurious and spacious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando Florida. Conference attendees were given an amazing discounted rate for their rooms! I even splurged and reserved a king room for myself. Not only does the resort offer many on-site restaurants (Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria I can vouch for, folks), but they also have a spa, their own golf course, and lots of pools and hot tubs...
The Food & Wine Conference is held at the luxurious and spacious Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. #FWCon

The above was the view from my room. My only regret is that I didn't come a day early so I had the time to really enjoy all those gorgeous pools and hot tubs. Next time though... ;)

Reason #3 why I think you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the Around the Sunday Supper Table dinner celebration on Saturday night...
A family style meal of Certified Angus Beef Grilled New York Strip Steak at the Around Sunday Supper Table dinner at the 2016 Food & Wine Conference. #FWCon

This year's dinner was sponsored by Certified Angus Beef and the Hess Wine Collections, and let me you all that dinner was phenomenal! A Piquant Blue Cheese & Heirloom Tomato salad was followed by a family style meal of Certified Angus Beef Grilled New York Strip Steak, and each course of the meal was paired perfectly with a varietal from the Hess Wine Collections. Which brings me to reason #4 why I think you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the wine, folks... 
Each course of the Around the Sunday Supper Table dinner was paired perfectly with a varietal from the Hess Wine Collections. #FWCon

I think that probably the wine goes without explanation, but wine was served often and freely at the conference in addition to some signature cocktails created just for the events of the conference. If you happen to be a wine lover, then you need to move this food blogger conference right to the top of your must-attend list for 2016. Wine was served at dinner, paired with delicious cheeses, and even with dessert. Which funny enough brings me to reason #5 why you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the recipe contests...
I had just received the award for taking first place in the Dixie Crystals Chocolate Dessert Recipe Contest with my Triple Chocolate Tiramisu! #FWCon

Forgive my totally cheesy grin (no pun intended), but I had just received the award for taking first place in the Dixie Crystals Chocolate Dessert Recipe Contest with my Triple Chocolate Tiramisu
And my dessert also happened to be served to all the conference attendees after the Around the Sunday Supper Table dinner Saturday night...
My Triple Chocolate Tiramisu was served to all the conference attendees after the Around the Sunday Supper Table dinner Saturday night. #FWCon

That was definitely a surreal moment for me! And can I say that the chefs at Rosen Shingle Creek got my tiramisu spot on? I also happened to win 3rd place in the Wisconsin Cheese Recipe Contest for my Grilled Beer Cheese Fondue. And please don't think that I am so kind of pro at recipe contests! I have only entered a handful during my entire food blogger career and had never placed let alone won first place in one until I entered the Food & Wine Conference recipe contests this year. Not only does placing in the conference recipe contests get you some major brand recognition, but you can also win your ticket to the conference, cash, a recipe feature on the brand's site, and even your travel and hotel accommodations paid for! They are definitely worth entering, folks. I mean, you certainly can't win one if you never enter a recipe- am I right? ;)

And let's talk about reason #6 I think you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the blogger & brand presentations and sessions...
When you are not snacking, feasting, indulging, and the like at the Food & Wine Conference, you are attending some amazing sessions and presentations from experienced food bloggers, brand representatives, and experts in the social media and tech fields. #FWCon

When you are not snacking, feasting, indulging, and the like at the Food & Wine Conference, you are attending some amazing sessions and presentations from experienced food bloggers, brand representatives, and experts in the social media and tech fields. My mind is still spinning from everything that I learned at the Food & Wine Conference this year! I had a few favorites that really resonated with me or that I enjoyed most from this year's conference- the Blog Your Way to Business Success was a really informative session about how to really treat your blog like the business that it is and take it to the next level. I loved the panel of brand representatives who kept it real and honest about what brands are looking for in blogger collaborations. And since travel is something that I started delving into last year on my blog, I was glued eyes and ears to the Eat.Travel.Blog.Business panel- so much good information.

And I saved the best for last, my friends. For me, one of the best things that has happened from attending blogger conferences is the in-person connections I have finally made. And that also happens to be reason #7 I think you need to make the Food & Wine Conference happen in 2016- the real life connections & friendships you make...
One of the best things that has happened from attending blogger conferences is the in-person connections I have finally made. #FwCon

As food bloggers, we spend so much of our time in the online world. We chat with, connect, support, and promote other bloggers on a daily basis without ever having met them in person. But I have to say, you all- there is something magical that happens when you finally meet these fellow bloggers in person...
There is something magical that happens when you finally meet these fellow bloggers in person. #FWCon

Something happens that transcends share groups and blogger tribes- you make a real life connection with people who understand what you do on a daily basis. I mean, only food bloggers (or the families and close friends of food bloggers) won't bat an eye when you climb on a chair to get an overhead shot of a delicious dish. Or if you ask them to hold a plate of poutine by a window so you can get a shot in natural light... three times over. ;)
But I think one of the really cool things that I learned is that just about every blogger I have met in person so far is just how I thought they would be. Bloggers are keeping it just as real online as they do in person. 

So, have I convinced you all yet? 
Are you planning on attending the Food & Wine Conference in 2016? Because I am! 

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