April 25, 2013 by

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.food blogger at Momofuku noodle bar

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!

travel by BC to Food Bloggers of Canada conference FBC

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.

FBC 2013 Food bloggers of canada conference

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.

Tebasile and Helene, two Thermomix bloggers

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.

Tebasile's Kitchen Thermomix banana cake.

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.

mycook is a thermomix competitor

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.

momofuku (TO) noodle bar in Toronto

momofuku TO noodle bar menu

shrimp buns at momofuku TO noodle bar

Ramen station at Momofuku noodle bar toronto

ramen bowl at momofuku noodle bar

momofuku fried chicken

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.

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See 17 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. avatar
    Bobbi 25 April 2013 at 11:59 pm (PERMALINK)

    Love it love it. What an adventure and so lucky to meet a fellow Thermomix blogger as well as the delightful Tebasile.

    Did you say the My Cook was priced at nearly the same as the Thermomix? What a rip off. We have a similar ripoff here in Australia which I will not name but it is no where near that price. It is beyond comprehension why someone would buy a My Cook at nearly the same price. Yikes there must be some silly Canadians!

    Momofuku . What a wonderful experience. Your brother was very generous to take you there. You certainly deserve all the good things that come your way.

    Thank you for a great blog and great recipes. I have started your 1 minute bread and will let you know how it turns out.

    Author
  2. avatar
    Mara 26 April 2013 at 6:39 am (PERMALINK)

    Sooo jealous of your visit to Momofuku!!!! Ramen is one of my favorite dishes since I’m 16. Sadly, in Spain you can’t find them easily in Spain (other than the package stuff). And the shrimp buns!! The bread looks like the buns for Gua Baos, right? You know that you can make those in your Thermomix, do you?

    Author
  3. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 26 April 2013 at 11:22 am (PERMALINK)

    Oh Mara, how I wish you could have been there!!! It was such fun, but would have been even moreso to share with you. Yes, the buns are Gua Boas I believe. Not sure if I want to start making these with Thermomix because it could be ‘dangerous’. On second thought… it might be a good idea. I think WE could make those shrimp patties too. Oh no.. now you’ve started something! ;-)

    Author
  4. avatar
    Jo Whitton 26 April 2013 at 1:14 pm (PERMALINK)

    Oh wow, how exciting you got to go to a bloggers conference and meet Tebasile and Valerie and go to Momofokus – so much fun!! That’s awesome. Glad you had a good time. xx

    Author
  5. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 26 April 2013 at 1:26 pm (PERMALINK)

    Aw Jo, how I wish you could have been there too, this amazing time would have been even more fun ;-)

    Author
  6. avatar
    Mands 26 April 2013 at 3:56 pm (PERMALINK)

    I love Vancouver Island and hope to be back there next year. The shrimp buns look fantastic. Sounds like a wondeful experience for you :)

    Author
  7. avatar
    Kim Beaulieu 26 April 2013 at 5:05 pm (PERMALINK)

    First of all it’s nice to meet you. I found you through FBC’s post today. I so wanted to go to the conference but couldn’t afford it this year. Hoping next year it’s a go. Looks like I missed a fabulous time. I love your profile pic.

    Author
  8. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 26 April 2013 at 7:28 pm (PERMALINK)

    Thanks Kim – fun to meet you here. Yes, the conference surpassed everyone’s expectations. I too hope for another one next year, but even every two years would be fine. I’m also hoping they will move it to a western venue ;-)

    Author
  9. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 26 April 2013 at 7:29 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Mands — yes, Vancouver Island is a great place for many reasons, but Toronto’s food scene is tops!

    Author
  10. avatar
    Denise 27 April 2013 at 11:34 am (PERMALINK)

    I really enjoyed this post! I have been dreaming about meeting another Thermomixer in person, or maybe just someone who has heard of it….Imagine just how much harder it will be to find a fellow Thermomixer in the United States where we now live! I purchased my machine in Toronto where we lived for several years and I have been following this blog daily since. Whenever anyone asks me what “that” machine is in my kitchen, I send them to view your blog in particular. Helene, based on this post, perhaps you would like this show that airs here on PBS: http://www.pbs.org/food/shows/the-mind-of-a-chef/

    Author
  11. avatar
    ALEX BIELAK 27 April 2013 at 1:24 pm (PERMALINK)

    It was great to meet you and to get your guidance re Thermomix. Thanks for the patient answers from you and Valerie

    Author
  12. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 28 April 2013 at 9:31 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Alex — Thank you for your kind comment. It was my pleasure too and so sorry we didn’t have a chance to sit down together until the last hour of the conference. I know I would have enjoyed spending more time getting to know you and hearing more about your local foodie involvement. But… there’s always ‘next time’ to look forward too! ;-)

    Author
  13. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 28 April 2013 at 9:45 pm (PERMALINK)

    HI Denise — thanks for your note! (I just found it now.) The show you mention sounds like something I would totally LOVE, but I do not have a TV, so will have to find another method of viewing. I really appreciate that you told me about it, as I hadn’t heard about this show yet — probably because my head is so deep in Thermo-land…

    Thank you very much for telling your friends in the US about this blog. I get several private messages each week from people in the US asking about Thermomix availability and have now started keeping a list of names so I can inform them of any changes regarding restrictions vs. availability etc. (Use this page to contact me directly) From the number of messages I get, I can tell you there is a LOT of interest for Thermomix in the USA and I for one would love to see it sold there one day.

    It can be a bit lonely as a Thermomix user in North America… so glad to meet another ‘local’ fan — Happy Mixing Denise ;-)

    Author
  14. avatar
    Tebasile 29 April 2013 at 9:15 pm (PERMALINK)

    Helene, I love the pictures of my frozen hydrangeas, my banana cake and your visit at Momofuku! I am glad that we had the opportunity to spend some time together ….. even it was a little bit chaotic without power, water and almost no gas in my car :-) . How exciting you had a wonderful time at the conference. I wish you would live closer to meet and connect with some more Thermomix user in our area: mostly Europeans and french Canadians!

    xx

    Author
  15. avatar
    ThermomixBlogger Helene 29 April 2013 at 10:49 pm (PERMALINK)

    Hi Tebasile! Yes, that was quite the adventure day. I too wish I lived closer… after this conference, trip, and all the fun I had in Toronto, I can see several benefits to living in your area. Being closer to other Thermomix users, Thermomix chefs, family, and a super foodie scene, so many great foodbloggers and, and, and… But my life is on the west coast… that’s certainly not about to change. I think I just need to plan for more visits ;-)

    Author
  16. avatar
    A Canadian Foodie 7 May 2013 at 2:08 pm (PERMALINK)

    Finally I get to read your incredible recap of your adventures in Toronto! What an incredible recap and so wonderful to hear that you got some time to be taken such good care of by Tebesile and got some shopping and snooping time. JEALOUS of your Momofuku dining experience! YUMMERS! It was SO wonderful to finally meet you in the flesh. One of my hightlights, for sure, Helene!
    :)
    Valerie

    Author

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