Stepping Up My Culinary Game with USF St. Petersburg Florida Food Conference 2014 Preserving Kitchen Memories

This is More than a Clementine, USFSP Florida Food Conference 2014 Preserving Kitchen Memories, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014
This is More than a Clementine, USFSP Florida Food Conference 2014 Preserving Kitchen Memories, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014
This is More than a Clementine, USFSP Florida Food Conference 2014 Preserving Kitchen Memories, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014

“Food is control, it’s the most powerful force there is,” Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author, culinary instructor and Southern storyteller told attendees of the inaugural Florida Food Conference yesterday. The event was hosted by University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and served up a heap of useful tips for making food writing and photography pop with vibrant flavor.

Nathalie Dupree, Keynote Speaker at USFSP Florida Food Conference, April 5, 2014
Nathalie Dupree, Keynote Speaker at USFSP Florida Food Conference, April 5, 2014

As you know, I have a fond affection for food and when I learned about the conference, I immediately signed up. It was well worth my time for the educational sessions, networking and inspiration.

Janet Keeler, “Writing for the Senses,” USFSP Florida Food Conference, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014
Janet Keeler, “Writing for the Senses,” USFSP Florida Food Conference, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014

The conference consisted of an opening keynote called “Storytelling through Food” by Ms. Dupree, followed by three, 50-minute educational sessions. “Writing for the Senses,” a hands-on session with a clementine and presented by Janet K. Keeler, Tampa Bay Times food and travel editor; “Best Practice for Culinary Blogs,” an inspiring session demonstrating how passion can lead to a career by food blogger (Family Foodie, Sunday Supper) and entrepreneur Isabel Laessig; and “Sizzling Images,” a demonstration on how to improve your food photography by Tampa Bay Times photographer Scott Keeler.

Isabel Laessig, “Best Practice for Culinary Blogs,” USFSP Florida Food Conference, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014
Isabel Laessig, “Best Practice for Culinary Blogs,” USFSP Florida Food Conference, St. Petersburg, Fla., April 5, 2014

If there was a problem with today, it was attendees could only choose two educational sessions and I attended “Writing for the Senses” and “Best Practice for Culinary Blogs.” I would have liked to sit in on all three, especially since earlier in the week I needed to photograph a bowl of Southern-influenced Bouillabaisse at a local restaurant and wasn’t 100 percent happy with the results. Photographing food for publications (other than my blog) will come up again and I’m sure Mr. Keeler’s tips would be useful.

In addition to leaving the conference hungry, which gave me the excuse to dine at one of St. Petersburg’s trendy restaurants, Z Grille, I left inspired with an I-can-take-my-blogging-to-the-next-level attitude so expect to see more flavorful blog posts!

Read on if you’re a food blogger, writer or photographer…

USFSP Launching Food Writing and Photography Graduate Certificate, First of its Kind in the United States
I know USF has a journalism program but didn’t realize they have a digital journalism and design program. With the popularity of culinary blogging and sharing food photos (if you haven’t dined with me, I’m sure you’ve eaten out with someone who insists on snapping a photo of their food before taking a bite), USF St. Petersburg is launching a Food Writing and Photography Graduate Certificate.

This is the first-of-its-kind program in the country which will begin in fall 2014 and Ms. Keeler is the program coordinator. Taught by USFSP professors and professional food photographers and food writers, the program is available as an online or hybrid 15-credit program for graduate students and adult learners. It will include studying how food connects us with our world, improve photography and writing skills and learn basics of multimedia reporting. Visit foodwriting.usfsp.edu for additional information.

I *think* My Food Photography is Improving. Trabue Restaurant, Punta Gorda, Fla.
I *think* My Food Photography is Improving. Trabue Restaurant, Punta Gorda, Fla.

If you’re not interested in participating in a full-blown graduate program the “Food Communication” (MMC 6936) class may be up your alley. Study contemporary food writing and write your own food stories, including cooking stories, restaurant reviews, essays and menu and recipe writing. Ms. Keeler will teach this graduate-level, online Special Topics class scheduled for fall 2014 which is available for non-degree seeking students. Email jms@usfsp.edu for information.

Or, a 3-credit undergraduate and graduate course in food photography called “Sizzling Images” is being offered June 23 – 27, 2014. Mr. Keeler will teach this immersion class which includes learning about equipment, lighting, food styling and more. Pre-course prep work is required and the class can be taken a credit class or non-credit workshop. Contact Janet K. Keeler (jkeeler@mail.usf.edu) if interested in participating.

Food & Wine Conference July 18 – 20, 2014
Food bloggers, writers and photographers can also participate in the Food & Wine Conference, July 18 – 20, 2014, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.. Ms. Laessig is the woman behind the conference which is building on the success of last year’s inaugural conference. Expect educational sessions, story ideas, networking and more.

Bon appetite!

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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