Dunedin blogger Isabel Laessig is thinking bigger and bigger. So big that her aspiration to bring family back to the dinner table through her online Sunday Supper campaign has now grown into a venture to connect food bloggers and culinary professionals face to face.
Sunday Supper is sponsoring its first Food & Wine Conference, July 19-21, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. The conference will bring together food bloggers and writers, small-business owners and marketing professionals for a series of seminars and demonstrations.
Headliner Sara Moulton, cookbook author and celebrity chef, will conduct a cooking demonstration July 21. She will be joined at the conference by wine guru Michael Green, formerly of Gourmet magazine and often seen on TV, and chef David Ramirez, the resort's pastry chef and captain of the 2009 U.S. team that competed in the Coupe du Monde chocolate and pastry competition in France.
The conference will also include a session with Manatee County blogger Jaden Hair, whose steamykitchen.com has resulted in several cookbooks, including her latest, Steamy Kitchen's Healthy Asian Favorites (Ten Speed Press). Hair will talk about monetizing blogs. There will be sessions on food photography, breaking into the cookbook business, social media and marketing.
"I decided to do this because I feel it's so important for bloggers to start thinking of themselves as a small business," Laessig said. "I also feel that there's a need for brands to connect with bloggers. Everyone is looking for a new way of marketing."
Also on the schedule are Janet K. Keeler, food and travel editor of the Tampa Bay Times; Jeff Houck, food editor at the Tampa Tribune; and Pam Settle of Good Living magazine, who will lead a session titled "Writing that Gets Noticed by the Media." Keeler will conduct a writing workshop for bloggers who want to improve their skills. Cookbook author Katie Workman (The Mom 100 Cookbook) and literary agent Doe Coover of Massachusetts will be on a panel about publishing cookbooks.
Michelle Northrup of Intensity Academy hot sauces in Tampa will be part of a panel addressing marketing and networking for small businesses.
In 2011, Laessig started familyfoodie.com to celebrate the family meal, something her college-bound daughter said she would miss most of all about being home. Since then, the blog has flourished and Laessig leads a Twitter chat at 7 p.m. every Sunday (#sundaysupper) that draws thousands of participants from across the country.
Tickets for the conference are $250. It begins at 6 p.m. July 19 with a social hour followed by a chocolate demonstration by the resort's pastry chef and ends July 22 with a tour of the culinary program at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at University of Central Florida. The group rate for accommodations at the hotel is $99 a night (normally $160). The resort is at 9939 Universal Blvd. in Orlando.
For more information and a schedule of events, go to foodandwineconference.com.