April 2, 2009
Yesterday I had the most amazing day at the IACP conference! For my fellow bloggers and food writers who were unable to attend–I hope you can benefit from this post. This year's IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Conference is being held in Denver, my hometown. The theme is Pioneering a Sustainable World, and it not only focuses on a food professional's obligations to encourage sustainable practices, but also on sustaining our own careers during these tough financial times.
My first round-table was with the lovely and amazing literary agent Lisa Ekus-Saffer (pictured at left) of the Lisa Ekus Group. She coached myself and several other would-be cookbook writers through the choppy waters of negotiating a book deal, the important ways an agent works for you, and what an author can expect–from your first book proposal to selling your book and getting royalties. Needless to say, Lisa's information was invaluable, and she presented it in an engaging and approachable way. Her site gives culinary authors LOADS of helpful info, so check it out!
As they say, the proof is in the pudding (or perhaps, the souffle, in this case)–Lisa is the agent of Virginia Willis, the chef and author of Bon Appetit, Y'All (pictured above at right holding her book) Her cookbook, which combines her southern heritage and French training, has become nationally acclaimed and is up for an IACP award this year! Congrats, Virginia! And thank you! (BTW–the photographer here was Paulette Phlipot, photographer of the book A Taste of Wyoming!)
Virginia passed on advice about letting editors and others know you are out there as an author. She stressed the importance of maintianing an updated website, a great marketing tool. Also at the table: Jill Nussinow, aka The Veggie Queen, local Denver food blogger Denveater, and Stephanie of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.
At lunch, I sat with Jacqueline Church, food-writer and networker extroaordinaire, Tiffany Collins (another Lisa Ekus protege and author of the book Panini, which she wrote in under 3 months), Belinda Smith-Sullivan, aka the Flying Foodie, and Maida Pineda, who came all the way from Singapore and was still able to be cheerful!
The afternoon was filled with a panel called "The Food Writer's Dilemma" where panelists Virgina Willis, Hsaio-Ching Chou–foodwriter turned PR guru (or "MOMpreneur", as she put it), Dana McCauley–Canadian food expert, the inspiring Lia Huber of the Nourish Network, Jenni Ferrari-Adler, editor of the anthology Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant and Peter Hertzmann all gave advice and shared their own (sometimes difficult) experiences of how to navigate the tough tides of the economic downturn, manage social media, and approach things in a fresh way to keep yourself motivated.
Again and again though the message was–be yourself, be genuine and follow your own passion. The events were moderated by Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife , The Less You Cry. Also in attendance–Jason Sheehan, restaurant critic for local alternative rag Westword–out of his normal incognito shell, but savage as ever!
The evening hours were spent at the Denver Art Museum, where Mayor John Hickenlooper (who I had the chance to meet, since he had met Guillermo the day before–both have a passion for geology and beer!) rallied the crowd with a rousing welcome and then sent us off to enjoy locally made and grown delights: beers from the Wynkoop Brewery, food from local-grown restaurants Potager, Duo, and Frasca, and delicious cheeses from locals Haystack Mountain, and MouCo.
If you've stuck with me this long–I know it sounds like I'm doing a lot of name-dropping in this post! But I want to tell you that if you follow the links above, you will find new ideas and encouragement on each one. I wanted to share with you all the awesome positivity present at the conference–which will be enough to sustain me for quite awhile!