Good to Know: Eat Write Retreat

Sarah in the Kitchen Goes to the Eat Write Retreat from Sarah on Vimeo.

It’s been almost two months since I came home from the Eat Write Retreat, my first-ever intensive learning weekend for food bloggers and writers.  I waited to write this post because I wanted to see what I put into practice.  Here’s what stuck:

  1. I’ve been networking all wrong.  For the record, I wasn’t doing terribly but Joy Manning’s insights made me think more about the long-term aspects of working with others.  She encouraged all of us to think more about building professional relationships instead of just angling and reminded us that thank you notes never ever go out of style.
  2. Working with brands is a two-way street.  Monica Bhide made us consider the other side of blogger relations with her talk about the sponsored post.  Her words made me take a good hard look at the brands that I have worked with in the past and helped set a strict standard for the ones who want to work with me in the future.
  3. Timing is everything.  Yes, it’s true.  I’ve slowly been drowning in the catch-as-catch-can freelance writing world that I’ve been living in the past three years.  Debbie Koening threw me a life raft when she inspired us all to restructure our work day into a few 90-minute blocks with no interruptions, rank our priorities and divorce the grief.  Amen.

I stretched my culinary creativity for the Eat Write Retreat challenges with a special version of my Saturday Sugars for In The Raw and a fig and pasta dish for the FleishmanHillard Amazing Appetizers contest.  Both were popular posts here and were picked up by Honest Cooking Magazine.  The coolest was when Atoosa from Calphalon told me that my picks helped me win the Your Set Challenge.  I love being in my kitchen even more now!

Calphalon Prize

The workshops taught me so much.  Brona Cosgrave enlightened us about water (who knew?!), Jenn Sutherland connected us with mushroom growers and Marisa McClellan opened my eyes to small batch canning.  I learned all things BBQ and beauty queen with Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.  I interviewed Judith last week for a story on her Back in the Swing Cookbook and let her know I had been practicing my waves.

Best of all was making new friends.  Casey and Robyn, our fearless leaders, did right by connecting participants and professionals so we could all get to know each other as people.  We brainstormed for the OXO Challenge, snapped pictures in the low-tech food photo workshop, and gabbed on the way to and from the Supper Restaurant, R2L and Williams Sonoma.  It’s been nice to keep in touch and have a support team until we see each other again.

Here’s hoping I can get to Philly in 2014…it will be very hard to do but I’ve already started saving my pennies!