If you want to know what the up and coming culinary trends are now and in the next year or so, Food Blogger Connect is the a great place to start.
The event brings together bloggers from all over the world and a three day parade of workshops, labs, conversation hours, food demos and sampling as well as an outside area with food trucks and pop up stalls. Opening the doors to new, up and coming niche brands and companies fighting for that valuable space among the specialist retailers, coffee shops, restaurants and food trucks this really is a treasure trove to dazzle the taste buds. Added to the throng are some really influential chefs, digital influencers, foodie online networks and of course, bloggers of global renown. Basically, you can feed your eyes, belly and brain to your heart’s content!
I really enjoyed the publishing sessions and it was great to hear how the US food social network BakeSpace started a few years ago and how it has evolved; now publishing books, apps and doing brand collaborations.
BakeSpace founder, Babette Pepaj was a really good speaker and raconteur; she showed us some of the coverage she got around the launch on Mashable and TechCrunch which was really quite harsh and cynical
but hardly a surprise from the male-dominated, testosterone fuelled world of tech journalism and explained that if you want to be a professional, you have to grow a thick skin – a sentiment which was echoed in other sessions too.
The three-dayer was in part fuelled by great food and some amazing Patron tequila. The photo below is a tequila mist which you inhale with a straw – a very novel experience for me.
Martin Morales, the restaurateur, chef and author was a very passionate speaker. His story is an interesting one, having started out in the music industry, he returned to his roots and is now an evangelist for Peruvian food, with a restaurant in Soho and another one in the East End. His talk was followed by a lively ceviche demo – the shirt says it all.
The charming and charismatic duo; Yotam Ottelenghi and Sami Tamimi were the star attraction on Saturday. They did a conversation hour and a lengthy Q&A to a packed main hall. Their book signing session was hijacked by what can only be called a ‘Selfie Queue’ of fan-bloggers eager to be pictured with their heroes. I have to admit I did go to the book signing and got a photo as well, it would have been rude not too!
Our thirst for food trucks around the city is bringing with it a whole new range of tastes and flavours. Korean food is just one of them, so expect to see more of this cuisine when you’re out and about. Traditional foods with a modern twist are also taking a star turn. One of the food stalls had Haggis burgers and there was a gorgeous Middle Eastern cuisine provided by Terra Rossa. Our fascination with all things hummus has a long way to go before it’s fully satisfied, so expect to see more books, cooks and restaurants with a Middle Eastern flavour emerge.
Worthy of note this year is the amount of vegan, diary-free and wheat-free products popping up. As Ottolenghi talked about in the Q&A, vegetarian food is no longer ‘uncool’ and it seems dietary requirements and choices are heralding a new wave of exciting and interesting brands.
Secret Sausages are a tasty alternative to meat and some of the range is dairy free, it’s all wheat free too. I tried them and really liked them, they were light and had a good texture.
NatVia is a zero calorie sugar substitute and while I approached it with caution, it tastes fine in tea so it will make it into the cooking bowl next time I’m making a dessert.
A new brand of drinks and accompaniments; Sweet Bird, is coming to town. Aimed at the coffee shop market it, has lovely soft drinks, coffee syrups and frappé bases. My favourite soft drink was Watermelon and Rosemary which was really refreshing, closely followed by the Peach Smoothie, which is additive free using only peach and sugar, perfect on a hot day. The range is attractively packaged, as you can see below, and begging to be picked up!
If you want to find out more and get some foodie inspiration, try searching #FBC14 tag on Twitter, instagram and Pinterest.