“Eat Write Retreat 2012″ Lessons Learned and Winning Recipes

From half way across the world, while I was in Asia, my husband’s frantic email reached me “Do you want me to sign you up NOW for “Eat Write Retreat”?  It was a message sent in panic mode. There was a sense of urgency to his tone.

As soon as the early bird sign-ups for “Eat Write Retreat” 2012 came up on the networks I knew I had to sign up. So from Manila, amidst a 13+hour time difference,  I called  home, which for me was the USA east coast. That was in early February.

Fast forward to the first week of May. Here’s how it all went down:

Wednesday: Packed for Washington DC. Checked the weather. It was going to be nice. Packed comfy clothes and sneakers. Packed my cameras, devices, pen and paper. Packed my energy, excitement and appetite.


Thursday: Drove four hours by car.  Arrived in DC a day earlier. Stayed with family in the DC area.  Enjoyed good food, laughs, family time.

Friday: Toured downtown DC with family. Visited the Basilica for my “3 wishes”.

And I just had to have this  “must have” : I  bought a box of Georgetown cupcakes for my choco fix.

Then, feeling renewed from all the chocolate,  we checked in at “Eat Write Retreat”. We were thrilled to see old friends, met new ones!


And here’s what my schedule looked like. Hello, FUN !

4 :00 pm –We checked in.

5:00 pm : Sponsor Meet and Greet Reception

6:30 pm – 8 PM – Mexican Fiesta Dinner

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm – Dessert & Entertainment mixer

 Food was spread out like there was no tomorrow. Wine flowed endlessly. And dessert  from Zoe’s Chocolates was as divine as chocolate could be. The pictures tell the story. I was too engrossed chatting, laughing, eating to take down notes.




Saturday : Woke up early. Energized with a good, solid breakfast at the lounge. And then we hit the ground running and never looked back:

9:00 -11:30 AM- Food styling and Photography with Renee Cometand Lisa Cherkasky

Simply the best food styling and photography tips any food blogger could have. Not only did we get important advice, it was a treat to be called up front, in teams and do our own food styling. We got to roll up our sleeves and hold, touch, style. After that, we were encouraged to take our own photos. If you’re looking at those bunch of carrots, yes, that’s ours. Great styling, expert lighting, gorgeous carrots! 

Here was wise advice from Renee Comet:Take in a moment, breathe and get a good shot.” And before you shoot, ask yourself “What is your goal?” 




Washington DC was cool and pleasant. After an indoor session, we were ready for some sunshine and a good walk down the block to have lunch.

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm – lunch at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

Okay, this is the first time I have ever come out of an all-vegan lunch, made of the finest organic raw vegetables feeling filled up, ate more than I should, and had the best vegetable meal ever.

Elizabeth’ s Gone Raw is the place for the best organic, vegan meal. Too bad they’re only open on Fridays, for a fixed menu. But I guess a quality menu needs time to be prepared.


Over lunch, we were treated to a delightful Q & A session with the author Michael Natkin, of the new cookbook “Herbivoracious”. What a nice, kind, down to earth fellow he is. He was so friendly and obliging. And not once did he get tired of answering our numerous questions. His new cookbook is amazing. I don’t know where to begin – all his recipes are very vegi-licious!





2:30 pm- 3:45 pm – Culinary Writing with the amazing Monica Bhide, multi awarded food writer, author, and of the famous site A Life of Spice.

Okay, I’ll admit this IS my favorite part of ” EWR12″.

Of all the sessions, it’s the Culinary Writing that was always a draw for me in any conference. And because it was the one and only Monica Bhide conducting the food writing session for the second year in a row, then I knew it was going to be good. Again. Period. Enough said. She was amazing.

Can I tell you how much I learned? I would, but one post is not enough. You’ll have to keep a tight watch on all of us who emerged from EWR and catch all our blogs. There will be a remarkable change in our style of writing in the next few months. And all because of Monica Bhide.

“Do it because you love it. Do it consistently. Do it persistently. And your rewards will be priceless.” – Monica Bhide

This is enough to inspire you to just go write and write for all eternity.


4:00 – 5:00 pm – Coffee Tasting with Qualia Coffee – This was a much needed break. The sessions were intense from the morning till now. The food was hearty. But we needed that 4 pm caffeine-pick-me-up. The coffee came with some of the most interesting stories and information on coffee beans. I wish this was a panel session in itself !



5:00 pm 6:15 pm – 5 Ways to Make Money Now with Andy Schloss of Chef Salt

Now if Monica inspired us to write well, then Andy Schloss fired us up to sell our wares expertly! Andy outlined it all for us . “Are you a worker or are you a BUSINESS?” he asked us. He got us pondering. He got us to rethink and revisit our goals. He made us realize what we should be doing right. And how to sell it well. Thanks, Andy. I will never work for free again, after listening to you.


7:30 – 10:00 pm – Dinner at AGAINN

One of the finest gastro pubs in DC opened their doors to us for some whiskey tasting and irresistible pub fare. It was a fun night, amidst modern and hip surroundings. Good bar food, good spirits, great company!


Sunday:  Last day of conference, but more energized than ever. After another spectacular breakfast at the Postcript Lounge, Team 6 was ready for this day!

9:30 AM – 12:00 pm OXO KITCHEN CHALLENGE at CulinAerie


Team 6 was us: long-time Chef Beth Vlasich Pav, Canadian coupon-mama Jennifer Levac, the Experimental Gourmand Kathy Blake and myself, the Asian in America. We were a formidable team. We were psyched. We were motivated. We were inspired. And we only had ONE FULL HOUR to cook and come up with our creations. Never had it been so much fun to be in the kitchen!

 This was our Team 6 entry. And yes, we’re sharing our recipes:

Summer Salad of Lettuces, Watermelon, Shaved Fennel, Radishes with a Watermelon Juice & Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette , Basil-Infused Watermelon mocktail and Caramelized Onions on Cheese Pastry Puffs.

 Head on over to the next blog post for the complete process.



12:30 to 2:00 pm – “Light” lunch break was what our program schedule said. It was anything but light. It was a hefty, delish lunch from “Chix” packed with a buffet spread of lunch offerings that was meant to fill us up till we got home to our own dinners.

The Oxo Kitchen Challenge winners were announced. Our Team 6 entry for the “Basil Infused Watermelon mocktail” got Honorable Mention. Hooray!


More giveaways were added to our swag. It was unbelievable how generous the sponsors were with the amount of gifts we had to take home. It felt like Christmas in my kitchen when I returned.

2:00 pm – 4:00 pm –Service project : There was no need to ask a second time. As soon as the service project was announced, all hands were literally on deck to help pack the food bags. Food bloggers united for this one, without hesitation. It was beautiful to watch.

 Pitch to the Pros – was a great opportunity for food bloggers to sit down and have a one on one session with brand managers, PR pros, publishers. Suggestions, helpful tips and advice were exchanged. It was brief, but it was a good experience.

“Eat Write Retreat” was one of the best hand-on, interactive conferences for food bloggers. Whether you’re a veteran, a newbie or just testing the waters, this was a good place to start.

“Eat Write Retreat” is a winning recipe for any food blogger. Here’s why:

It’s great. It’s fantastic. It’s authentic. It’s sheer learning all weekend. It’s raw, pure lessons from experts in the field. It’s personalized. It’s hand holding if you want, but at the same time, they let go if you prefer. It’s a push in the right direction if you’re slightly lost. It’s an affirmation if you knew it all along, yet had doubts. It’s the right place, the right time for any food blogger. It has helped me and my blogs immensely. And I hope it will help you, too.

Reach out to Casey Benedict and Robyn Webb. They’re easy to find on the networks. They’ll put you in touch with others you may need in the future. And best, the friendships made, that’s the bonus you bring home….because that’s forever!

So this is why, even while I was on vacation,  from another continent far away,

I made sure I signed up !


 Find more details about “Eat Write Retreat” on their site !

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for the mention of any brand names, sponsors or giveaways in this blog post. The sponsor gifts were part of the swag I received from this food bloggers conference.

Tags Posted under Cooking, Events Holidays, Featured, Lunch, Queen's Thoughts, Travel by

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