Guest post by Shaun Chavis 
When Jason Horn and I started FoodBlogSouth three years ago: 

I thought it would be a one-day workshop with about 50 to 75 people. 

I didn’t think we’d have a sell-out crowd the first year. 

And I had no clue how many great friendships and opportunities it would create… not just for me and Jason, but for the bloggers, speakers, and sponsors who have been a part. 

High Road Ice Cream of Atlanta served ice cream samples at the last FoodBlogSouth Conference
and they’ll be back in 2013!

Jason and I started FBS for two reasons: Reason #1, most of the food blogging conferences were either in New York or somewhere on the West Coast. If you’re in the South, you can easily spend $1000 or more to attend a 2-day conference in either of those spots. We wanted something we, and our other food blogging friends in the South, could attend without breaking the bank. We also felt like Southern food bloggers in general have something unique to contribute to the entire food blogging world, and we wanted a conference that could support and call attention to that. And we realized Birmingham had a lot of great resources to be able to do it. The talent here alone is a hidden incredible gem.

Reason #2: We wanted to support a local non-profit children’s writing project that was just starting up, Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO).

So here we are, just a few months from our third event! For FoodBlogSouth 2013, we’ve got three tracks. A half-day beginning track, a full day creative track, and a full day tech & business of blogging track. If you attend, you don’t have to stick to one track, you can hop back and forth. 

The Pecans Project from Greensboro, which helps high school dropouts learn business skills,
served spiced nut samples and pecan butter samples at FoodBlogSouth 2012. 

Ready for the highlights? 
  • Our keynote speaker is J. Kenji-Alt Lopez, of Serious Eats. His Food Lab posts are great, and he’s got a Food Lab 2-volume book coming out in 2013. 
  • Bloggers told us they wanted more about how to be unique and creative, and I don’t think any blogger does that better than Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet (any food blog fan who’s been around a while remembers his Janet Jackson Cupcake post after the infamous Superbowl halftime wardrobe malfunction —that post got him a few minutes on CNN).  He’ll talk about writing. 
  • We’ve got two photography sessions: #1, a camera phone session with Beau Gustafson, a local freelance photographer who’s done a lot of work at Southern Progress Corporation. (If you’ve ever tried to take a picture of a restaurant dinner with nothing but a candle on the table for light, this is the session to attend!) #2, an advanced photography session, led by two previous FBS attendees—Helene Dujardin (Tartlette)  who is a professional photographer, awesome blogger, and author of Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling. She’s working with Tami Hardeman of Running with Tweezers, who is a professional food stylist. 
  • We’ve got a fun twist on recipe writing this year, and it’s starting with a game for bloggers that’s already starting (wanna play)? The game is called Recipe Telephone, based on the game Telephone (remember that game as a kid)? Bloggers are taking turns changing a Roast Chicken recipe one at a time, and passing it on to the next blogger. No telling what it’ll turn into! Cookbook author Cynthia Graubert will use the recipes from the game in her recipe writing session. (And, the recipes will be published in a chapbook.) 
  • Martie Duncan, of Martie Knows Parties, and a contestant on Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star,” is doing a session about How to Cook on Camera. 

Goo Goo Cluster was a proud sponsor of FoodBlogSouth 2012.
Can you think of a more iconic Southern candy?

We’ve also got sessions on how to brand yourself as a blogger, how to write your own cookbook, a session where experienced bloggers share how they juggle blogging and the rest of everyday life, SEO and tools for bloggers, and more. Plus there’s going to be some good food: Look for some delicious cheeses for breakfast, and we’ve got a crew of chefs from Baton Rouge coming to cook for our after-party. 

FoodBlogSouth has always had another mission, too: Proceeds support the Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO), a non-profit children’s writing center in Birmingham. FBS 2012 raised $13,000 for DISCO, which just had its grand opening the weekend before Thanksgiving. I’m on the board of DISCO, and anyone who knows me knows I have personal reasons for supporting DISCO. My paternal grandfather was illiterate—as an adult, he couldn’t write his own name. No one should grow up without knowing how to read and write. Knowing how to write and communicate ideas on paper is power. And, my other reason is that reading and writing has always meant so much to me. I grew up an Army brat, which meant moving around a lot and losing friends. (No email, Facebook, Skype, or FaceTime back in those days!) Books and writing were the companions that I’d never lose, no matter where we moved.

I hope you’ll join us for FBS 2013… for the sessions, for the chance to meet other bloggers and make new friends, and to support a place that gives kids opportunities to write. We’ve had great support from bloggers all over the South, from the City of Birmingham, from colleagues at Southern Progress / Time Inc., and from Alabama businesses. All of our speakers have been great, too. 

If you plan to sign up, use the code “SeeJane” to get 10% off your registration.