Reflecting on the Roger Smith Food Writers Conference

Perhaps I should not say this, but I nearly didn’t accept Andrew “Andy” Smith’s invitation to speak at The Roger Smith Food Writers Conference. (It seemed such a long way to go, though New York City is a little over two hours from my home in upstate New York.) I am so pleased that I did go. This conference was a marvelous experience in every way.

The conference took place at the most charming Roger Smith Hotel, which offered such a sense of intimacy, enhanced with the opportunity to touch the hems of so many (but simultaneously, so few) brightly shining gowns. There were impressively credentialed and wonderfully informative speakers. If you were not able to attend, may I strongly suggest that you watch the wonderful sessions online.

The conference hoped to examine the future of food writing and the affect technology is having on veteran and budding food writers of all stripes. Once it started, those in the audience couldn’t stop tweeting about it. Here’s a sampling of the pearls of knowledge revealed:Gutenberg's Printing Press, circa xxxx

– “Your job is to make your career work. Food writers can either be victims or victors,” according to David Leite, founder of Leite’s Culinaria, “be Gutenberg, not a monk!”

Kara Newman, author of the new Spice & Ice, learned: “1) the publishing industry hopes iPad will be its salvation; 2) “bloggers hold ALL the power” & [know it]; 3) food writing is alive but evolving.”

Laura Weiss, of “The 3 keys to writing effectively online: 1) Keep in mind- the computer screen (increasingly as small as cell phone screens – so keep [it] short, in chunks), 2) readers rule (engage them); 3) Google rules, make your headlines and first words clear and descriptive.

– Joe Langhan, founder of the TV Food Network, stated: “TV is good for conveying passion and emotion; print is better for conveying fact; the Internet can combine both and that is the big opportunity.”

– Renee Schletter Rossi, deputy editor of Leite’s Culinaria, revealed: “traditional media and online can complement each other and need to work together.”

– Elissa Altman of Poor Man’s Feast, describing the current state of recipe writing and food blogs, said, “The net is the still the Wild, Wild West when it comes to food. There is nothing more important than for food colleagues to help each other.”

There are already murmurings about having another conference next year and I’m sure the pressure will build to do so. I just hope it doesn’t become much bigger.

Update (2/17/10): Andy Smith has promised to provide any updates from this conference and plans of any future conferences-which I’ve promised to post here! Check back if you’re interested. He is a darling.

5 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Roger Smith Food Writers Conference

  1. I watched your panel online just now and enjoyed seeing and hearing you. The panelists’ credentials were indeed impressive. I hope there is another conference next year.

  2. Thank you very much. You are dear to say that. And I hear from a little bird that Andy Smith may already be dreaming up an encore conference.

  3. I’m so glad you decided to attend the conference. It was a pleasure speaking with you at the opening reception.

    If they hold a follow-up conference next year, I’ll be sure to attend again. And I live just outside Toronto!

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