Fun times in Asheville at Food Blog Forum – Day 1 and Day 2
Biltmore House at dusk
Have you ever been excited about something for a whole year? Ever since the announcement last year during Food Blog Forum at Disney World that Food Blog Forum 2014 would be held in Asheville, I started counting the days. Western North Carolina is such a beautiful part of the country and I’d been hoping the conference would be held there one day. The excitement built even further when the schedule came out and we found out the conference itself was going to be on the grounds of the 8000 acre Biltmore Estate. How cool is that?
Just three short weeks ago, the wait was over and I headed to Asheville to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones I’d only known virtually. It was a fun-filled few days that left many of us wishing for more time together to explore the area and all it has to offer. I took so many pictures that it’s taken me awhile to go through them all. With so much to share, I’ll be breaking my recap into two parts as I don’t want you to miss anything.
First on the agenda was an evening Welcome Party at the DoubleTree Asheville Garden Terrace with appetizers, refreshments and live bluegrass music. Everywhere you looked there were smiles, hugs, introductions and business card exchanges. Along with our swag bag of goodies from the sponsors, Explore Asheville generously provided Foodtopia burlap bags for us to fill with local products (first 2 photos above). Since I love anything caramel, I can’t wait to try the Carmelita Goat Milk Caramel from Looking Glass Creamery. I haven’t opened it yet and am afraid once I do that it’ll be gone in no time flat!
Conference and lunch at Lioncrest
The drive through the woods of the Biltmore Estate early Monday morning to Lioncrest (the conference venue) was beautiful as there had been a light rain and it was a little misty. The morning consisted of a light breakfast followed by a short welcome message and three sessions (1 – Don’t Do It Alone: Create your Tribe, 2 – Pitch It: Working with Publications, 3 – Story on a Plate: Food Photography and Food Styling Insights for Crafting Your Unique Voice). The buffet lunch was held on the veranda, which was like being outside with the windows surrounding the room. We broke into smaller groups for the afternoon. The speakers rotated to each table for “speed-networking” sessions during which we could ask them questions and get advice on several topics. There were also some great giveaways from the sponsors throughout the day.
Note to 2012 FBF Orlando attendees: Remember those yummy caramels OXO provided during our conference? They brought them to Asheville and they started disappearing real fast…I lost count of how many I had!
Biltmore House tour – check out the awesome view from the back porch!
After the conference, we drove in a caravan to the parking area for the evening events. I was following a group that got lost and we wound up driving all the way around the estate and ended up at the parking area we’d passed before. We got out of our cars laughing and quickly boarded a shuttle to the Biltmore House for our behind-the-scenes tour. What an amazing house! You’ve go to put this on your must see list if you’re ever in the area. You’re not normally allowed to take pictures inside the house, but our group was given permission to do so.
Biltmore House tour
The top 2 photos are in the breakfast room – notice the detail in the ceiling. The large banquet hall would be cleared after dinner and set up for dancing afterwards. If there were only a few people eating, they would use the smaller table by the 3 fireplaces. The kitchen is on the lower left and the pastry room (which would be my favorite) is on the lower right.
Venue for evening reception with a view looking down at the Biltmore House
Once we finished the house tour, we were shuttled back to the parking area and walked up a set of stairs to Diana, our venue for the evening event. Can you imagine having an event in this lovely setting? WOW!
Food, food and more food!
The Biltmore chefs prepared a “Field-to-Table Reception” with so much food it was hard to know where to start first. One of my favorites was the Biscuit Bar, which is no surprise…I’m from the south after all! The milk jam was sooo good!!
Look at all these smiling faces at the reception. You know there had to be a few selfies too!
Would you believe there’s still more to come after all this? Check out Part 2 where I’m picking up with day 3.
Want to see more of what happens at a Food Blog Forum Conference? Check out my recaps from last year: