Life Lessons From Food Blogger Camp 2011

January 14, 2011 § 57 Comments

Guacamole makings

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the Food Blogger Camp I attended at the lovely Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Mexico last week. I’ve been connecting with the new friends I made and remembering the generously candid stories everyone told. And then I realized that the biggest lessons I learned from Food Blogger Camp (aside from the fact that I still really like tequila) weren’t about blogging.

Well, of course, they all apply to blogging. And, I do have pages and pages of notes on the technical and strategic aspects of blogging and food photography. But, to be honest with you, the three biggest things I took away from Food Blogger Camp apply just as well to any other vocation or avocation.

Beautiful Mayan light


I was intrigued by how many people had come seeking direction for their blogs (myself included). And I was equally struck by those who had figured it out; they exuded a sense of conviction about the path they’d chosen. They know that they’re meeting a need that they, uniquely, can fill. For instance, some know they want to be useful or entertaining to their readers; some know they want to delight viewers with their food images; still others know they want to publish cookbooks and were using their blogs as platforms.

In other words, these folks are operating with a sense of purpose derived from knowing, at their core, who they are and what they stand for.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao Tzu

Diane of White on Rice Couple teaching


My grandpa always told me to do what I loved and the rest would follow. Sometimes, that sounds easier said than done. But it seemed true at Food Blogger Camp. A number of people had found joy in writing about or photographing food and, as a result, had truly changed their lives. They halted the stress of working in kitchens or in tech to build blogs that became their businesses; they discovered new passions and worked (and are working) their butts off to build those passions into careers; they overcame seemingly insurmountable health problems through better food and are fired up to teach others how to do the same.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal; instead pursue the things you love doing. Then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou

Elise Bauer & David Lebovitz. And me, drinking tequila*


I was humbled by how openly my fellow bloggers taught, shared and inspired; in short, they modeled what it is to be good citizens and build community. Diane Cu of White On Rice Couple patiently taught me, shot by shot, how to adjust my shutter speed and aperture to capture this image just the way I wanted it…

The cherry shot

…and then came up to me at lunch afterward to offer more help. Her partner, Todd Porter, geeked out with me about citrus trees and growing our own food. Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic schooled me on how to replace white flour and sugar with more wholesome alternatives without making it feel like a lesson (being on the beach didn’t hurt!). Robin Cherry, Elana Horwich, Diana Johnson and Susan Salzman encouraged me to combine my passions for sustainable food and education, and Nancy Singleton Hachisu — after inspiring me with her life stories — is helping me do just that. Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes somehow read me in an instant, offering this motivation:

“The only limit to what you can do is your own creativity.”

David Lebovitz shooting Elise Bauer

Thank you to Kerrygold Butter for sponsoring, and to the session leaders (Matt ArmendarizElise Bauer, Diane Cu, Jaden Hair, David LebovitzAdam Pearson and Todd Porter) and the other participants for a life-changing experience!



*Thanks to Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic for this photo. I’m glad somebody snapped me with one of my favorite drinks in hand!

Here’s a round-up of other participants’ posts:

Session leaders’ posts / blogs:

Food Blogger Camp photos:

Organizer and P.R. contact:


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