the ifbc in new orleans, a wrap-up

It has been a long time since I’ve been to New Orleans, probably not since 1996, at least ten years before Katrina devastated the city. My memories of the Crescent City back then centered around my beloved Florida Gators playing in the Sugar Bowl, New Year’s Eve crowds of inebriated people, and the loud and smelly Bourbon Street.

I’m here to tell you that Bourbon Street is still loud and smelly. But, oh, that French Quarter is such a charming place, despite the malodorous nature of that one famous street.

streets of nola

And the food. Wow.

I can’t begin to describe how amazing the food was in a way that will do it justice. I’ll just say that these were some of my favorites:

– the charcuterie and the marinated Brussels sprouts from Cochon Butcher.

– blackened swordfish, melt-in-your-mouth butterfish, and sauteed sheephead from GW Fins.

– crab and corn soup from Bourbon House.

– charbroiled oysters and the refreshing Pimm’s cup from Drago’s.

– the BLT salad with fried tomatoes, the arugula and watermelon salad, the brisket, the white beans with bacon, and the shrimp and grits from Nola.


nola kitchen

Not only is Louisiana seafood in great shape, but New Orleans chefs know what they’re doing. I was happy to be spending my money in that city, on those meals.

My only food regret? I missed out on the beignets from Cafe du Monde this trip. But that’s okay. It gives me a reason to go back.


cochon butcher

The International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) was the reason I was in New Orleans. The conference’s weekend agenda was filled with some fantastic talks on food photography, recipe writing, sustainable eating, the ethics of food blogging, and more.

I even gave a little presentation myself, on time management. Marissa led the session with me, and she and I got along smashingly – plus, she’s cute as can be. Our lives couldn’t be more different, but our different strategies for juggling our busy schedules really work for us.

street band

I head into each conference I attend with the goal of learning one new thing. With that as my expectation, I’m never disappointed.

I went into this conference with the same objective – to learn just one new thing.

This weekend’s conference in New Orleans exceeded my expectations by a long shot. I came out of each session with some new bit of information. What I really walked away from the conference with, though, was an immense love for this community of food bloggers – and food writers, and food photographers, and food people, in general. I met some wonderful men and women this weekend, and I shared meals or conversations or hugs – or all three – with many of them.

I find myself astounded by watching – and being a part of – the relationships that once only existed online, often first through Twitter, transform into beautiful and very real connections. When food bloggers get together, we don’t just sit around and photograph our meals and talk about the latest model of Vitamix or whether tomatoes belong in gumbo or not.

Okay, well, there’s some of that.

Mostly we get together and enjoy each other’s company. We eat and drink together. We learn from one another and we share our personal stories. We cheer each other’s successes and empathize with each other’s struggles and challenges. We lift each other up. We hug and we laugh together. Sometimes we cry together. We take care of each other. And though we miss our families back home, we hate to say goodbye when the time comes.

This food blogging community is pretty damn great. It’s an honor and a blessing to be part of it.


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27 Responses to “the ifbc in new orleans, a wrap-up”

  1. 1
    DessertForTwo — August 31, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

    “This food blogging community is pretty damn great. It’s an honor and a blessing to be part of it.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Glad you had fun! Thanks for telling us what you ate at each restaurant. I love details like that!

  2. 2
    Dianne Jacob — August 31, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    Great to see you in NOLA, Merry-Jennifer, and I enjoyed spending a little time with you. Your photos are just gorgeous! This conference seemed a little mellower than others I’ve been at recently, don’t you think?

    • 2.1
      Merry-Jennifer — August 31, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

      It was wonderful to find the time to chat with you there, Dianne. I agree, the conference did have a wonderful, casual vibe. It felt intimate, and I loved that.

  3. 3
    Wendy Read - Sunchowder — August 31, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    What an amazing post Jennifer! I also learned so much at the conference 🙂

  4. 4
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — August 31, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    Mj – great post, brought back some wonderful memories of my trip last year. NOLA is fab. Wish I could have been three to hear you speak. You are truly an inspiration.

    • 4.1
      Merry-Jennifer — August 31, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

      Aw, you’re so sweet, Mardi. I wish you could have been in New Orleans, too. You’re overdue a hug.

  5. 5
    PeeDeeFoodie — August 31, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

    Congrats on a wonderful wrap-up. Love the photos! This was our first conference, so we’re newbies to the community. Thanks for such a warm welcome.

  6. 6
    LiztheChef — August 31, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

    Thinking of coming to Santa Monica in mid-Nov for IFBC? I’m going…

    • 6.1
      Merry-Jennifer — September 1, 2011 @ 7:09 am

      I really wish I could, but I can’t get out there for those November dates.

  7. 7
    Jamie — August 31, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    I fell in love with the city and was swept away by the amazing food and I so want to go back to NOLA again… But the conference, as you said, exceeded my expectations. I not only learned so much but was so inspired! (oh, boy, your session set me straight!) And I loved the ambiance. Everyone got along so beautifully. I am truly happy that I got to spend so much time with you, talking, laughing and getting to know each other and I hope that we stay in touch. And we still need to do a video project in claymation.

  8. 8
    SweetSugarBelle — September 1, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

    I just visited in January, and had such a wonderful time. It was truly beautiful, and despite the Katrina reminders, the culture overwhelmed me. I felt like I got a big happy NOLA hug the moment I arrived!

  9. 9
    Ethan — September 1, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    great little recap of IFBC. Sounds like it went as it should be…the conference is simply a way for people to get together and become friends.

  10. 10
    Liz @ Southern Charm — September 1, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    Glad you had such a great time in my town and was able to experience all of the food! And there is so much more, which I’m sure you know, to try!

  11. 11
    Gail — September 1, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

    I’m so glad it was such good conference. How could it not have been in NOLA with such beautiful friends there to share it with.

  12. 12
    Kevin (Closet Cooking) — September 2, 2011 @ 6:56 am

    Nice recap and photos! I am now wishing that I was still there. 🙂 It was great meeting you and sharing an amazing meal at GW Finns!

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  14. 13
    Paul (GetMeCooking) — September 3, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    Nice writeup and photos! I’ll have to visit New orleans one day.

    It’s nice to see what food bloggers from around the world are up to. I attended Food Blogger Connect in London, UK a few weeks ago

  15. 14
    Lora ~cakeduchess — September 3, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

    What fun it was to meet you and share a delicious lunch that first day. Bourbon Street is loud and smelly and I’m thrilled I finally got to see it. So sorry I missed you speaking. I could use some of your tips:) Hope to see you again soon…we are practically neighbors;)

  16. 15
    Maria Raynal — September 4, 2011 @ 8:25 am

    Love your writeup. You captured the moments perfectly — some that I didn’t even catch, even though we were together almost the whole time. Perfect.

  17. 16
    Liren — September 4, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    Wonderful recap, I do wish I had been there as well. I am hoping to attend ICBC in Santa Monica this fall, fingers crossed!

  18. 17
    Sheri Wetherell — September 9, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    It was so wonderful meeting you and having you part of our conference! You did a fantastic job! I agree, it was a nice, mellow conference! Perhaps that Southern grace got into everyone?! 🙂 Hope to see you again soon. XO

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