BlogHer, the part ad network, part online community website, got its start in 2005 with a conference, and in the eight years since has expanded to not just one big BlogHer conference every year (this year, it’s taking place in Chicago with keynote speakers that include Sheryl Sandberg), but several smaller niche conferences targeted to the millions of bloggers who spend an increasing amount of time writing about everything from raising kids and garden beds to traveling around the world.
This week, BlogHer Food, which started in 2009 in San Francisco, will take place at the Hilton Austin downtown. This gathering is not nearly as big as SXSW Interactive or as well known as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which held its annual conference here in 2011, but within the blogging world, it’s a pretty big deal. (Timed with this week’s conference, BlogHer is releasing its second book, ROOTS: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us.)
Speakers include food activist Anna Lappe, blogging pioneer David Leite, Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, "Joy the Baker" author Joy Wilson, Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics and Hank Shaw, who recently won the James Beard Foundation award for best food blog. (You might remember this fishing expedition we took with Hank and Dai Due’s Jesse Griffiths when Hank was in town for IACP.)
I’m speaking on a panel about building community and preserving history through blogging and food writing on Friday afternoon, and you can click here to see the full schedule.
It’s not too late to buy a conference pass, which costs $398, but you can also just buy a ticket ($20) to the closing party at 7 p.m. Saturday at Stubb’s, which is hosted by perhaps the biggest names in food blogging today: Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.
However, the closing party isn’t the only event non-badgeholders can get in on.
The Austin Food Blogger Alliance (Disclosure: I’m on the board of this group) and the Austin Food & Wine Alliance are hosting a Bites & Bloggers event at 5:30 p.m. today Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd., that will feature food from more than a dozen local female chefs. RSVPs are closed online, but the event is free and open to food bloggers.
Two free gluten-free parties are taking place on Friday. The first is a book event with April Peveteaux, author of "Gluten is my Bitch," from 4 to 6 p.m. at Frank, 407 Colorado St., that will feature gluten-free hot dogs and Omission beer. The second is a Better Than Before cocktail party with Karen Morgan of Blackbird Bakery at 9 p.m. at the Palm Door, 401 Sabine St., which will feature live music from Les RAV and cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
On Friday night, Anna Lappe and Tom Philpott will be busting food myths at a free event called "Other Meals Are Possible: Sticking a Fork into Industrial Food’s Lies" at a space at 5604 Manor Road.
If you are visiting Austin for the conference and wondering where to eat, I’d suggest browsing through our restaurant critic’s list of his Top 50 restaurants in Austin, which has this handy map to help you find where you’re going.