It all started with tiny thought, the kind that Tastemaker founder Abbey Rodriguez often finds herself thinking while working in the kitchen to feed her family and share her simple and accessible gluten-free recipes with readers on her blog, The Butter Half: What if all the foodies I know online could come together in real life and support each other in our businesses and our love of cooking? But unlike other thoughts (how to make the ultimate overnight oats, or where to buy the best bowl for mixing granola), this one hung around until it couldn’t be ignored anymore. Lots of hard work, hours of emailing and planning, and dozens of helping hands on two coasts later, and the Tastemaker Conference was born. Its debut in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2018 was a wild success, and although tickets for 2019 sold out in a flash, one never knows how projects like these will pan out. Will people still want to learn about food and meet other foodies? Will blogging still be a thing in 2019? (Yes and hell, yes.)
In a testament to the power of connection, Tastemaker Conference 2019 was an even bigger success than we could have hoped for. Nestled in the gorgeous mountains of Portland, Oregon, at the Leftbank Annex, this three-day event was packed with opportunities to learn, meet-and-greet, and dine with bloggers of every stripe, including industry leaders such as our keynote speaker and “the Martha Stewart of Paleo” Michelle Tam and Hey Grill Hey founders Susie and Todd Bulloch. You came out to wave your foodie flags from all over the world, which made for conversations that went beyond the hum-drum of traditional networking.
In the classroom, experts lifted the veil of mystery around essentials for any blog’s success—everything from the ins and outs of Google analytics and ads to finally mastering Lightroom and Pinterest. Ashley Reeves shared how she was able to use Instagram to build her personal brand, and effective strategies for finding your tribe along the never-ending scroll. The folks from Mandi Gubler‘s team explained how and why you might want to add members to your team to ace editorial calendars and ensure your posts reach readers with clarity and conviction—and on time. Hands-on workshops gave bloggers valuable experience with experts to hone their skills behind the camera and behind the counter. And panels of digital trailblazers offered inspiring stories of launching six-figure businesses from their homes without sacrificing soul.
Learning by example is only part of the Tastemaker’s mission, which is why we spent just as much time mingling and munching together as we did getting educated. Delicious meals provided by our sponsors Tillamook, Taylor Farms, Kodiak Cakes, and more offered opportunities for new friends to relish in the most nutritive part of any meal: the community you share it with. For the first time, we also held off-site excursions to the idyllic Middleground Farms, where folks enjoyed farm-to-table creations and a night of fireside bonding—complete with (duh!) s’mores. And for all those in between moments of needing brain fuel, our endless snack and swag bar supplied us with noshes we’ve been packing our backpacks and lunch bags with ever since.
Saying goodbye is always hard, but leaving behind our magical group of attendees and presenters was even more bittersweet than usual.
Thankfully, we’re super excited to announce next year’s event in Brooklyn, New York! Early bird tickets are already sold out, but get your name on the waitlist here. Meanwhile, keep up to date with the latest tips and tricks, inspiration, and encouragement from your foodie family by followings us on Instagram @TastemakerConference and Facebook. And if you joined us in PDX, don’t stop sharing your photos with #tastemakerconf2019.
Photos: K.C. Film and Photo