5 surprises: a Food Bloggers of Canada Conference Trip
Thermomix fan and blogger Helene Meurer traveled from to Toronto in April 2013 to the first Food Bloggers of Canada conference (FBC2013). Here are the five most memorable highlights.
Surprise #1: travel to FBC2013 was an epic adventure
I usually decline the opportunity to travel. It takes a huge draw to pull me away from this cozy west coast home, fertile garden, warmly glowing computers, and busy kitchen kit shop. It had been 25 years since I’d visited my home city, but on hearing Toronto would be host to the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada conference, I was quick to sign up. What a great opportunity to learn how to be a better blogger alongside some of the most savvy foodbloggers, writers/publishers/speakers, and marketers in the country!
Leaving sunny Vancouver Island by ferry was a great reminder of why I’ve chosen to live here. April 11, 2013 was a stunning spring day and the bus, ferry, and second bus rides headed for the Vancouver airport were a relaxing treat. After a smooth flight, the plane began a turbulent descent through an ice storm that brought freezing havoc to areas surrounding the Toronto airport.
The ice storm created a fairy-tale wonderland but also traffic problems, delays, and major power outtages. Finally, after 36 sleepless hours, the conference venue was reached: Hockley Valley resort. Have you ever arrived at a resort in the midst of a power outage? Surprise! It’s an adventure. Thankfully, the Hockley staff were calm, and guests were patient. Soon the lights came back on and the conference began with a roar.
Surprise #2: The conference centre, organizers, speakers, sessions, and attendees… all exceeded expectations
Being that FBC2013 was the first ever Food Bloggers of Canada conference, I think nobody could have known quite what to expect. Who knew there could be such flawless organization? And such thoughtfully crafted menus featuring Canadian food producers? The high caliber of speakers was impressive and engaging across the board. Panel discussions were relevant and riveting. (And who knew the beds at Hockley Valley resort could surpass any beds we’d ever slept in, anywhere?) Who knew what a room full of fun-loving Canadian food bloggers would sound like, (and feel like) as foodie passions were shared and new friendships were sown? The week-end was one happy surprise after another. From a sponsored cocktail reception that involved mingling and munching our way through an “à la Canada” spread, to a tearful conference closing — each hour, each session built upon the previous as the shared enthusiasm of participants became a full-on crescendo.
To read more reports and to see photos of the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference, see detailed blog posts and photos from dedicated Canadian food bloggers.
Surprise #3: Meeting other Thermomix bloggers (!)
Until this week-end I had never met another Thermomix blogger in person. (For Australian readers, this may be hard to believe, but it’s true.) Most people in Canada (even foodies) have never heard the word Thermomix, so attending a food blogger’s conference as a Thermomix blogger is a bit of a lonely experience. Of the 80 participating bloggers there was only one other who owned the machine and could relate to the Thermomix way of cooking: Alberta Thermomix consultant Valerie Lugonja. It felt great to be welcomed at FBC2013 with a prairie girl hug from this popular blogger known as A Canadian Foodie. Valerie has been a virtual friend of SuperKitchenMachine since the beginning and was featured in the first Thermomix blog review, way back in 2009. To speak about Thermomix with someone as knowledgeable as Valerie was a thrill I hope to repeat!
Some of my warmest impressions of the trip to Toronto are from the short and crazy pre-conference hours spent visiting fellow Thermomix blogger Elisabeth (aka Tebasile), of Tebasile’s kitchen. After a rough landing at Pearson Airport during the ice storm, Tebasile was gracious and nothing short of heroic as she rescued me from my own inner turbulence, bundled me into her car and drove the frozen country roads to her ice-covered eco home. The power was out when we arrived, so plans of playing with Thermomix were put aside. Instead we chatted like old friends, enjoying the bond that comes from a shared passion for this kitchen machine and the healthy lifestyle it offers.
We shared a Thermos of still-warm tea, a Thermomix banana cake, and an outstanding (and oh-so-green) Spirulina Banana Pie. Tebasile’s cooking style is uncompromisingly healthy and often raw. I’ve often been in awe of what she does with Thermomix and it was a privilege to sample the same treats her family enjoys on a daily basis. Despite having no heat, the house was warm with family and friendship, and I was so glad to be there. Thank you again, Elisabeth.
Surprise #4: Finding “Thermomix” in a Toronto kitchenware shop?
After the conference, I’d planned for a few days visiting family and exploring the big city. What fun to discover new cookware shops and restaurants amidst the buzz of stimulating cultures and vibrant neighbourhoods. After spending an hour examining every item in a prominent kitchenware shop that claims to serve professional and avid home cooks, I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the staff. It was a cheeky test of sorts, to amuse myself and see if they’d ever heard the word “Thermomix”. Knowing full well that Thermomix is NOT sold in stores, I casually asked if they might have one for sale. Imagine my SURPRISE when the answer was… “Sure. It’s over here, just follow me.”
My heart pounded with excitement: what a story this would be, to find a Thermomix for sale in a Toronto kitchenware shop! Adrenaline was rushing and the next blog post began rapidly formulating itself as I followed the shop keeper to a section of pro blenders and grinders and then… he showed me this.
Not. A. Thermomix. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Clearly someone was mis-informed. Or perhaps someone was misrepresenting the product? Either way, finding this MyCook (a Thermomix competitor) on the shelf of a Toronto store might be a twisted form of good news. Does it mean there is in fact demand in Toronto for Thermomix, enough that people are looking for alternate ways of acquiring Thermomix functionality? Does it mean maybe one day people will come to know what a real Thermomix is, and how it puts all competitors to shame? Sadly, this inferior product was priced almost the same as a Thermomix. I took time to inspect it as closely as possible in the confines of the store and found its construction and materials to be of lesser quality. (Watch for future blog post about other Thermomix competitors coming soon.)
Surprise #5: lunch at Momofuku (a Thermomix-loving restaurant!)
I was hoping to dine in one of the restaurants that use Thermomix during my stay in Toronto. It didn’t take long to decide on which one: David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar. We already know David Chang uses Thermomix in his culinary lab, but I wasn’t sure if the super kitchen machine would also be found in Chang’s Toronto restaurants. I decided to find out.
The friendly staff confirmed there are two Thermomix machines at Momofuku’s Toronto kitchens. These are found in the kitchens above the noodle bar and are primarily used for preparing sauces for Momofuku’s daisho, and shoto restaurants. While those kitchens were too busy to allow peeking, lunch at the Momofuku Noodle Bar in Toronto was even better than anticipated. Shared with my dear brother, it was surprising, fun, filling, delicious and over-the-top delightful. We arrived early and made it last. I could go on… about the shrimp buns, the utterly flavourful pork belly in Momofuku’s signature ramen bowl, the heat of the chilled spicy noodles and sticky crispiness of the chicken… but this is not a restaurant review. With permission to photograph granted, I took some iphone snaps to share here.
One more tip about eating lunch at Momofuku noodle bar: Go ahead and indulge because it’s worth it. Order plenty because it all tastes great. Take the rest home for dinner. You’ll be so glad you did.
- learn more about Food Bloggers of Canada
- see more of the FBC2013 conference through the eyes of great Canadian foodbloggers
- watch video about David Chang Culinary Lab
- find more healthy Thermomix recipes at Tebasile’s kitchen