Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review of the 2014 Food & Wine Conference #FWCon

This has been a complicated post for me to write. The problem I have is the whole experience of the 2014 Food & Wine Conference is overwhelming and difficult to summarize, so the easiest method to do so is from the beginning.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coming from California, I knew it was not feasible to travel on the same days as conference events so my family and I traveled to Orlando. There are two thoughts I had regarding the area initially. Landing, I noticed the area was very green which is a contrast to the dry state of affairs where I live because the land is mostly brown due to a drought. My second impression hit me when I walked out of the airport terminal from baggage claim, which was the amount of humidity in the air. It was not really an issue but I did need to adjust to it. (I must admit that I am a bit spoiled by the weather where I live.) Mrs. Stuntman and my daughter came with me so they could take advantage of the fun things to do while I was attending the conference.

Rosen Shingle Creek is about a 15 minute trip from the airport. When we arrived there, Mrs. Stuntman was in awe. I think her expectations were off because the pictures on websites do not do the hotel justice. Once we settled in, I wanted to ensure I kept my promise I made in my contest entry so we had dinner at A Land Remembered Steakhouse. I'll reserve the entreé I ate for a future project but the other dishes we ate were:

My daughter was entertained by the alligator-shaped butter.

Appetizer: Ahi Tuna, Lemon Myrtle Crust, Napa Cabbage Slaw, Chili Pepper Citrus Vinaigrette

Mrs. Stuntman's Entreé: Cedar Plank & Broiled Salmon, Roasted Cipollini Onion & Chive Butter

Side Dish: Caramelized Vidalia Onions

We then returned to our hotel room about 10pm local time but I was asleep about an hour later which was insanely early considering it was about 8pm in California but I suspect that a tiring day travelling in addition to a full meal and a bed more comfortable than the one I have at home contributed to my lethargy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I got an early start Friday morning when I woke up just before 5am and could not go back to sleep. I think my internal clock hadn't fully adjusted yet but I also think the anticipation of the conference start contributed to my insomnia. After getting a cup of coffee, I watched Isabel on local TV with the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck promoting the Idaho Potato Commission and the Conference. By late morning, Mrs. Stuntman and my daughter had arisen from their slumber so we went down to grab a bite to eat.

View from Room 7229

Looking Down at the Pool

As the day progressed, I had the oddest experience recognizing strangers from their avatars on their websites. At 4pm, the first official Conference event started with a reception sponsored by Idaho Potato and by then I felt I was among old friends. We moved to an event sponsored by Gallo Family Vineyards where they premiered a new wine: Riesling. From there, the conference went to a dinner hosted by the hotel that featured small plate versions of dishes from the restaurants there at the hotel.

One dish, in particular, was very special to me. It was recreation of my contest entry in the Rosen Shingle Creek Recipe Contest. I knew I had won the contest before leaving but was unsure how to act that evening because I was sworn to secrecy until it was announced, however I had attendees coming up to me Friday night congratulating me and noting that it was their favorite dish of the evening. A few people told me that they had three servings! The dish was replicated as Peppered Tenderloin of Beef Over Corn Polenta, Frisée Salad and Cabernet Reduction and I was able to take a picture of it which is below. For me, this is the most satisfying part of the winning the contest because people outside my family were able to try a dish published on my website.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday's business atmosphere during the day contrasted with Friday night's social environment. The day started off with a keynote address from former Next Food Network Star contestant Emily Ellyn and season 1 winner of MasterChef Whitney Miller. The sessions continued with topics such as utilizing social media to maximize exposure, creating your own brand, and SEO best practices. Two presentations resonated with me in particular. The first discussed creating a business from a food blog by Erika of Not Ketchup and Michele of Intense Academy Gourmet Sauces. The second was a presentation by food writer Monica Bhide during a writing workshop. Her energy and passion is inspiring. The morning break was sponsored by Duda Farms; lunch by Fields Auto Group; in addition to the afternoon break by Cabot Creamery Cooperative and Parkesdale Farm Market. I should also note that music during lunch and dinner was provided by Braden Palmer.

Speaking of dinner, it was served family-style. Jenny Hemmer of Gallo Family Vineyards answered previously submitted questions regarding wine pairings and the winners of the recipe contests were announced.

For the Davidson’s Safest Choice No-Bake Summer Recipe Contest, the winners are:

First Place-Huevos Rancheros by Susan of The Wimpy Vegetarian
Second Place-Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie by Courtney of Neighborfood

The winners of the Idaho Potato Recipe Contest are:

First Place-Loaded Potato Breakfast Casserole by Amee of Amee's Savory Dish
Second Place-Chewy Chocolate Potato Biscotti by Rosie of Newbies in the Kitchen
Third Place-Cheesy Spinach Breakfast Potato Patties by Cindy of Cindy's Recipes and Writings
Honorable Mention-Loaded Potato Breakfast Gnocchi by Terri of Love and Confections

Amee's dish is particularly notable because she won a trip to Idaho later this fall and, like my dish, was featured at Saturday's lunch. I was able to try Amee's dish and understand why it was chosen first place (particularly with ingredients such as cream and bacon).

Besides myself, the Social Media winner of the Rosen Shingle Creek Recipe Contest is Seafood Stew by Cindy of Cindy's Recipes and Writings

The Dixie Crystals Brownie Dessert Contest winners are:

First Place-Bittersweet Balsamic Strawberry Swirl Brownies by Jenni of Jenni Field's Pastry Chef Online
Second Place-Raspberry Chambord Brownies by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Third Place-Caramel Macchiato Brownies by Betsy of Desserts Required

Both Jenni's and Liz's brownies were served at Saturday night's dinner for dessert.

Jenni's Brownies surround Liz's Brownies

The appetizer and entreé courses were:

Field Greens with Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes, Sliced Radish and Carrots, Raspberry Vinaigrette

Clockwise from the Right: 1) Grilled Tescan Vegetable Skewers, 2) Tomato Basil Linguine: Garlic, Campari Tomatoes, Brie Cheese, Goosenecks of Imported Grana Pandana Cheese 3) Braised Tenderloin of Chicken, Caramelized Onions, Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauce 4) Porcini Mushroom Risotto

After dinner, a group picture of all the #SundaySupper bloggers present was taken and I ensured I took a picture with Nancy of Gotta Get Baked, my Adding Some Class guest from this past April. If you haven't already, please check out her Bacon Pesto Parmesan Rolls.

Used with Permission from Karen of In the Kitchen with KP

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday's sessions were held at Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Even though the college is next door to the hotel, Fields Auto Group provided the transportation and I got to ride in a Bentley. First up, Chef Giuliano Hazan demonstrated a carbonara dish. From there, I attended workshops on various topics such as creating and maintaining a media kit, food photography and working with brands. Lunch was sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and Idaho Potato Commission.

One of the recipe contest prizes was a $100 gift certificate to one of the hotel restaurants so Mrs. Stuntman opted to dine at Cala Bella. The dishes we ordered were:

Appetizer 1: Mozzarella Stuffed Bella Meatballs, Tomato Ragu & Fontina Fondue

Appetizer 2: Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Capers, Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Cracked Pepper

My Entreé: Osso Buco con Gremolada, Veal Shanks Braised with Olive Oil, Wine Plum Tomatoes, Vegetables, Lemon & Garlic, Risotto del Giorno

Mrs. Stuntman's Entreé: Cala Bella Lamb, Marinated Herb Roasted Chops with Pickled Shallots, Rosemary Minted Marsala Sauce

Deconstructed Tiramisu

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday evening we travelled back home, but before we left my family and I was able to spend time with one of my best blogging friends before the Conference, Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Kiss My Smoke and was my Adding Some Class guest this past February. Check out the Crème Brûlée dessert she made for me. Before we left, Mrs. Stuntman snapped this picture of us.

Overall, I highly recommend attending next year, especially if you have yet to attend in either of the past two years. I was discussing the matter of food blogging conferences with some others who noted that it is smaller than some others but it allows for better networking opportunities. On a personal note, I'd like to thank Christina of Go Epicurista, Braden and Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen and Peter of Feed Your Soul Too for their assistance when my disability became a hindrance.


  1. This is an excellent recap of your experience and of the Conference, DB. I know I've said this many times but your winning dish was my favourite meal of the weekend. The tenderloin was beyond tender (I think I was able to cut it with my fork), the flavours were incredible, and I was licking the polenta and sauce off my plates (I'm pretty sure I was one of those people who took three servings). Meeting you was one of my conference highlights. You're just as smart, funny and intelligent as you present on this blog, and your culinary knowledge astounds me. It was a pleasure meeting Mrs. Stuntman and your adorable daughter too. Reading this made me relive the weekend all over again!

  2. It sounds like a blast!! I sure hope I can attend next year!!

  3. It was a great time and so glad to have met you. I look forward to breaking bread with you again!

  4. It was great to meet you in person, DB! Great recap of an amazing weekend...

  5. It was so good to meet you in person! A great re-cap, DB.

  6. So great to meet you DB! Your dish was delish! See you around the table (virtually) at Sunday Supper!

  7. It was so nice meeting you, DB! Loved getting to chat with you throughout the weekend. Your dish was YUM! Have a wonderful week and I look forward to getting to know you better. :0)

  8. Haha, I would have been impressed by the alligator butter too ;) Your daughter is so adorable, and I am so glad I met you in person!

  9. What a great recap of the conference! It was a pleasure to meet you and your winning dish was amazing!!

  10. I am so happy you came and had a blast. I was thrilled to meet you in person and I'm so touched by what you wrote. I feel the same way about you. Blogging is an amazing adventure. It's brought me so much joy, and the added bonus is I've met some of my truest, best friends through the business. I love the photo of us. It looks like we're just hanging out at one of our houses and gabbing. Which was pretty close to what we did that afternoon. So much fun, and I'm so glad I got to know your gals better. They were so patient while we talked our heads off, lol.

    We're totally doing this again next year, but I won't be getting sick and we're going on a side trip for dinner or some other foodie adventure. xx

  11. Such a great wrap up of a wonderful weekend. I loved your delicious dish and am so proud of you for winning the competition. I was only sorry that I was too full to enjoy more than one portion!

    I am thrilled that we had the chance to meet in person. You are such a warm and welcoming friend. <3


Feedback is always welcomed. If you're going to be critical, be constructive. In other words, be nice.