Food Blog South 2014 may be over, but the synergy produced from more than 200 southern food writers permeates my thoughts. Even before arriving in Birmingham for a late Friday lunch, Nicki Pendleton-Wood and I were talking friends, love, life and all the in betweens. That blink of a three hour drive had set the stage for a weekend full of inspiration.
Entering stage right was John’s City Diner with a pre-party full of pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, barbecue sliders, chicken and waffles, but most of all delicious conversation.
The next morning everyone filled the halls of Rosewood Hall in Homewood, Alabama. My first session began with the queen of quotes, storyteller and reporter for Reuters and TIME, Verna Gates. She encouraged us to keep our mouths shut when interviewing. “If you’re not talking, someone else will,” said Verna. Her sentiments about doing the small jobs well will eventually land the big job served as an outline for success of any freelance writer.
Then, Southern Living Food and Travel Writer, Jennifer V. Cole took the stage. While sharing some of her favorite chefs and restaurants, she described her “Roasted Chicken Test.” If a chef can roast a chicken to perfection, chances are the rest of his menu will be solid. Now, I am not going to lie. The nip of Four Roses Single Batch Bourbon paired with a Grey Ghost Molasses Spice Cookie sure did make for a mid-morning delight.
Dixie Fish Company sponsored the lunch buffet of Alabama gulf seafood. Good lord, I could have eaten my weight in those spicy fried oysters with blue cheese. As we sopped up the last bit of Hopping John, Virginia Willis shared a few thoughts on pork chops. When peers experience success, sometimes it is human nature to feel inferior and perhaps jealous. Cooking the perfect pork chop still resonates in my head. With a hot pan on searing high heat, a lone pork chop will burn. However; if there are two pork chops in said pan, they will feed off of each other while turning a delicious, golden brown. Willis urged us to get in the proverbial pan together. By celebrating one another’s success, the energy will become a source of strength and enlightenment.
The afternoon creativity lightening round was led by Javacia Harris Bowser and Nashville’s own Susannah Felts and Nicki Pendleton Wood. Their presentations on generating blog post ideas, cultivating creativity and writing the perfect blog have my head spinning with enthusiasm. It seems that I may need what Felts calls a “Creative Intermezzo.”
Film maker, Joe York, rounded off the day by engaging us in a conversation about Multimedia Storytelling. Click here for his Southern Foodways Alliance short film- Alzina. It was a treat to hear his take on the right gear, becoming a pro and creative parameters using Alzina as the case study. “Think of it this way,” York described, “Alzina was a foreign language and I needed to be fluent in Alzina.”
There were several other events before we exited stage left, but the after party at Good People Brewing Company is where everything came together for me. The world of food is so vast, yet we all are connected by it. As I took a mental inventory of the folks around me, I was reminded of something Nicki said to me on our road trip that I could not agree with more….I am very grateful to have folk’s feet under my table