Camp Blogaway Greats: Personal Connections & the Food – of course!

I recently had the opportunity to attend the premier “bootcamp” for food & recipe bloggers May 14-16. Camp Blogaway is run by Patti Londre, a longtime food marketing and PR person at TLC and author of Worth The Whisk. The conference took place in SoCal’s beautiful San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear. Just a hop, skip and jump away from our Nestlé corporate offices in Glendale.

Cynthia Elmastian, Patti Londre, me

I must admit I was a bit nervous to attend camp. Not only because I am on the shy side, but I would be meeting lots of foodies, sharing a cabin with several others I didn’t know, and sharing a room with someone I had only met on Twitter. I was also a bit nervous about the fact that I was representing Nestlé, the largest food company in the world. I’ve never met another corporate food/cooking blogger and was conscious of the fact that I would be the official representative, or “face” of the company. To my delight, I couldn’t have spent my weekend with a finer group of individuals.

To start with, it was with great pleasure to meet THE La Fujj Mama (Rachael, photo below). We had met on Twitter previously, but camp brought us together in person. I even got to taste her amazing Chocolate Almond Toffee. I love that she came to camp with treats for everyone!

La Fuji Mama & Me

My bunkmate at camp was Robyn Webb from Fabulous Food Finds. This lady has such a big heart! Check out what she is doing with DC Foodies Do Good. The photo below shows where Robyn and I slept, sort of (not sure I actually slept). I suppose it had something to do with the green squeaky mattress.

Bunks at Camp Blogaway

When camp started, I had the opportunity to connect with Mandy Unruh from Mandy’s Meals. Mandy and I instantly hit it off. She is a personal chef and also works closely with Denise Vivaldo of Food Fanatics Unwashed and Food Fanatics. Denise needs her own show! She is so darn funny and amazingly talented. If you didn’t know, she was just named the 2010 IACP Food Stylist of the Year and has just finished her latest book, The Food Stylist’s Handbook.

Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, award-winning journalist and co-author of The Recipe Writer’s Handbook spoke to us about the importance of good recipe writing. We have had her reference books in our Nestlé Kitchens for as long as I can remember; I refer to it as our culinary “bible.” She inspired our recipe format, and is the reason we don’t use words such as “minced” or “simmer” in our recipes. When I met Barbara, I felt like I was meeting a celebrity (well, she is a food celebrity)!

Barbara Gibbs Ostmann, me, Denise Vivaldo

Casey Benedict from provided the most amazing gourmet s’mores! The artisanal chocolate and hand-rolled Middlebury maple crackers were provided by her sponsor (you can buy her marshmallows on their site). Casey made the Vanilla Marshmallows for camp herself!

Casey Benedict's S'mores

Cynthia Traina from Zespri Kiwifruit was one of the many camp sponsors. She provided delicious kiwi for all of us to enjoy. I have never eaten so many kiwis in my life! And I have a new favorite, the Gold Zespri Kiwifruit. It’s available through September! And in case you didn’t know, the best way to eat a kiwi is to cut it in half, then use a spoon to scoop. If you want to ripen it quickly, put it in a brown bag with a banana or apple. It works.

Gold Zespri Kiwifruit from Cynthia Traina

I couldn’t have asked for a more dynamic group of people to listen to and ask questions of. Thank you Patti! Until next year…


  1. Posted May 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great post Chris! So much fun to relive it for a minute : )

  2. Posted May 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a great run down of the event! Just like you, I was nervous to attend Camp Blogaway, and like you my fears were quickly put to rest. It was such an energizing weekend. I have to say that when you made a point of trying one of my Vanilla Marshmallows in your hot cocoa (and then Tweeting about it!), that was a camp highlight for me right there. 🙂 And thanks so much for this mention of the s’mores sessions. It was great to meet you and share such fun presentations and how-to sessions, not to mention the great memories. I hope our paths cross again soon!


  3. Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks so much for your post! I’m considering attending, but like you, am painfully shy. I really need to just suck it up and register 🙂

    • Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      If you attend Camp Blogaway, you will be in great hands with Patti. The panel this year looks great too! I won’t be attending – sure wish I could though. If you have any specific questions, you can always email me directly at Happy to help in any way I can, even if it’s just to put your mind at ease. I hope you make the decision to go. It will likely be out of your comfort zone, but I guarantee, you will meet some great people!

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