This weekend we traveled over seven hours to San Francisco to attend the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. The first time I heard about the Expo a couple of years back, I was interested in attending. However, they were always so far away. When I heard that they were hosting a convention within driving distance I knew I just had to be there.
It was one of those situations where desire and probability were not exactly lining up and things were looking bleak for the trip. I was pretty disappointed to say the least. However, as providence would have it not only did I get to after all, but I was also able to attend as an Official Expo Blogger! Thrilled doesn’t even properly frame the excitement I had on the way down to San Francisco.
I had some expectations about the trip and mostly they were to see what the gluten free market place was offering and I thought I might learn a few new tips for my gluten free bakery. Now that the Expo has come and gone I can say my expectations were “blown out of the water!” The experience has left me in constant dialog with my husband about all the prospects and lessons we learned from the trip.
The Blog Lounge
Now for the details.
We arrived in San Francisco Friday evening just in time to do a quick clothes change and freshen up in the vehicle after a long 9 hour plus trip. Schar sponsored a mixer with guest speakers for the Official Expo bloggers. You can see the group in the photo above. I am wearing the green skirt to the right. Yes, I actually brought my littlest foodie. I know, I know he is not eating real people food yet. However, he does know good milk and he actually did really well the whole weekend. I was really grateful they allowed me to bring him. He is a good baby.
Anyhow, the pre-event started at 5pm and we had a line up of guest speakers including: Mrs. North West, The Celiac Diva, Franny from Franny Cakes and a Schar Representative. It was only an hour into the night when I remember thinking “Boy, was the drive worth it!” The content was great covering topics pertaining to us bloggers and how to make our blogs a success. At some point Clinton and I just turned to look at one another and laugh because Franny was sharing some no-nos for blog styling and other areas that we obviously needed to correct.
Mrs. North West, Brandy Wendler was very candid about social networking and basically was unashamed to “tell it like it is” in regards to building an audience. The Diva was such an encourager and an inspiration.
One common thread statement among the speakers was the importance and power of bloggers to retail markets. Advertising has taken a turn to favor the power of blogging. Of course that was great to hear.
The Schar Representative was very helpful and very attentive to the group. We left that evening with many good tips, but the best part of the night was the actual interaction with the group. Everyone had a story to share about how and why they are blogging. One thing is for sure bloggers are passionate about what they have to say. They want to share their voice with the world. The meeting that evening was a great opportunity to pick some tools to make our voice more clear and concise. If you would like to know why Foodies With A Cause is passionate about blogging check out our CAUSE page.
The Cooking Classes
If you decide to try it out you can see the finished consistency of the batter below. In her class she reminded us that many vanillas contain corn, so if you are sensitive to it always check your label. She also suggested replacing the vanilla with something else like coffee. It would of been great to see the final product, but there was no actual cooking during the demos other than use of hot plates, at least that I know of.
Karen Morgan of Blackbird Bakery gave a compelling talk on gluten free baking. She is definitely dedicated to the art of gluten free. Her passion and concern for detail was much appreciated. I took a lot of notes during her session.
XO Baking Co. came loaded with mini chocolate cupcakes to pass out. They were a nice cupcake just what you would expect from a regular cupcake. They were so kind to send us home with boxes full. So, we decided to pass on the goodies to a local robotics team of high school students that were working hard on after school projects. They were thrilled! Thanks XO Baking Co.
What can I say this couple did shine! Mr. Foodie and Matt got along great and talked for a while in the blogger lounge. They are a very creative couple as a matter of fact Erica’s business card won my top vote for the BEST business card. Red Apple’s Gluten Free Lipstick card was a close second.
P De Q caught our attention with their friendly family crew. They were offering a unique gluten free Brazilian morsel. They were warm and tasty. Check out their site by clicking the photo to find out more details. This is one treat you can’t find just anywhere.
Bread SRSLY is native to San Francisco which makes perfect sense, since it is the city known for its sour dough bread. Bread SRSLY was sampling their gluten free allergy friendly sour dough bread. They are also free from “dairy, egg, nut, soy, chickpea, potato, tapioca, and, of course, and wheat” as stated on their site. If you are in San Francisco you might try and look them up.
I would like to say a special thanks to Schar Gluten Free for hosting the Blogger Lounge! Their Ciabatta was the real deal! If you have never tried one of these please go out and do it now and you will never miss a wheat roll again, really.
We paired these with these delectable meatballs below. The pair was a welcomed meal after so much sugar at the event.
Hail Merry was so intoxicatingly good I will do a separate review coming soon!
Simple Squares won me over with their rosemary snack bar. We will post a video interview soon.
Flamous chips are addicting you can’t have just one. The Falafel flavor was my favorite. We have more favorite items, but we could only list so many for this post. We will post more of them later.
We had an amazing time at the GFAF Expo 2013. We are already looking forward to next year!