Club Med Food Blogger Camp Tips and Insights

Thanks to a food writing scholarship and the generous support of friends, I am writing this post from Ixtapa, Mexico’s Club Med Food Blogger Camp. For one week, a small group of food bloggers gather together to enjoy the tropical weather, warm ocean breezes, and food blogging sessions taught by some of the most respected online food writers in United States and France.

Club Med’s resort is reason enough for the trip–with its beautiful architecture, friendly staff, warm ocean waters, balmy weather (the tropical climate ranks nearly perfect for more than three hundred days a year), beautiful vistas, and outstanding food.

In a word, Club Med Ixtapa is paradise.

I’m overflowing with appreciation and the desire to offer you some of the incredible gems I learned from Food Blogging Masters. Though I highly recommend saving your pennies for the next Club Med Food Blogging event, what follows are some of the lessons I’ve learned while being here.

Food Blog Strategy

  • Content is king. Make sure your posts are well structured and tight.
  • Posts should entertain, illuminate, and engage.
  • To build a successful blog one must focus on three things: content, technology and community.
  • If you want your blog to be successful, you must be able to answer the following two questions. 1) What do I want my blog to achieve? 2) Who is my audience? Answer thoughtfully and you will find the necessary focus to make your blog successful and give you a cohesive approach to blogging.

Food Writing

  • Be frugal when using adjectives. Stay away from words like Delicious, Yummy, and Tasty.
  • When writing a post, unplug from social networking tools. Otherwise, your writing time will be dramatically minimized.
  • Use all of your senses to write about food. That’s taste, touch, smell, visual, and–in the words of Michael Ruhlman–“common sense.”
  • Ruthlessly edit yourself.

Food Styling

  • Use smaller plates and short stem wine glasses.
  • Shoot on antique breadboards and textured linens.
  • Create height on the plate. For example, prop a Rib Eye up with a wadded up paper towel to feature the grill marks atop the steak.
  • Use toothpicks to secure food that might slip.
  • Use Polygrip to make food hold a certain position on a plate (i.e. make a taco stand straight up on a plate).
  • Study food magazines and culinary photos to collect inspiration and a clear idea of the visual voice you’re looking for.
  • Use PAM Organic canola spray to give foods shine.
  • Use Cool Whip instead of real whipped cream for photo perfect, immovable dollops of whipped cream.
  • When building a plate of spaghetti with sauce, add the pasta first and then the sauce so that it isn’t swimming in the liquid and you can feature key, visually appealing elements.

Food Photography

  • Shoot food close up, or at a bit of a distance to give viewers a mood or environment surrounding your plate.
  • Color balance your camera before shooting.
  • Shoot RAW whenever you can.
  • Don’t shoot into direct light. Stand at 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock to your subject when the sun is directly behind it.

Considering the super discounted rate from Club Med (a sponsor for this Food Blogging Camp), I’m astounded at the value of their all inclusive resort for an event of this sort. The resort’s casual, sea-side luxury and the quality of panelists (Matt Armendariz, Elise Bauer, Adam Pearson, Jaden Hair, Diane Jacob, David Lebovitz, Michael and Donna Ruhlman, Todd Porter and Diane Cu) has me thinking I’ll be attending the next Club Med Food Blogging event and making a vacation out of the trip.

I’m incredibly grateful to have met so many wonderful people, learned such valuable lessons, and made connections that I plan to hold on to for a very long time. For other great posts about the Club Med Food Blogger Camp, please check out these other sites:

Steamy Kitchen

David Lebovitz

Matt Bites

White On Rice

Dianasaur Dishes

Food Inspiration

A Beach Home Companion

Dianne Jacob’s (Author of Will Write for Food) Blog

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Brooke Burton nominated for best food writing

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

30 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the tips with those of us who couldn’t make it to Mexico.

    I’m not sure if I like all of the food styling tips, especially the one about fake cream. I know this is what goes into a magazine photo shoot but my favourite food blogs are taking photos of real food, not emulating magazines. Even the pros are moving in this direction – Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries were all pictures of the food he actually ate each night.

    • January 15
      Reply

      Caitlin,
      Agreed. It’s important for me as well that the food I photograph is the food I want to eat. But when it comes to capturing a perfectly styled dessert for a commercial shoot, this Cool Whip trick is an edible solution.

  2. January 15
    Reply

    Great job of trying to boil down major points of so many great lessons! We need to roundup all the posts eventually somehow so all this great information can be shared. Wonderful pictures as always, B!

  3. January 15
    Reply

    Thanks for the great inside info, I just wish I could be there to learn more about food blogging, I’m new at this so all info can help.
    Have fun and enjoy the sun there, unfortunately for me I’m in Portland OR nice and rainy and gloomy here. :{

  4. January 15
    Reply

    OMG I love everything! Fabulous words of wisdom! I am coming with you next year!

  5. January 15
    Reply

    I was jealous of Food Blog Campers to begin with but after seeing all your posts and write ups I am very jealous.

    FYI — you are on the foodie blog roll for today!

    Faith

    • January 16
      Reply

      Faith,
      Thanks for letting me know about the Foodie Blog Roll!
      Brooke

  6. January 17
    Reply

    Brooke,

    I enjoyed reviewing the past week through your lens . . . glad we had the opportunity to meet up the first day at the airport and build the friendship throughout the week!

    justin

  7. January 17
    Reply

    Hi Brooke,

    So glad to meet you at last, and to get to know you a little. I noticed you typing away for hours in the bar — it must have been the creation of this post. Let me know when your story appears in LA Weekly.

    I am still dreaming of those swaying palms, the soft sand and sun.

    Hope we see each other again soon. Thanks for the link.

  8. Thanks for the update and the valuable tips! Hope they do it again next year, I’ll definitely be there!

    Lisa

  9. January 18
    Reply

    Loved all the tips! Thank you for taking the time to distill down your experience for us.

  10. January 18
    Reply

    Hi Brooke, Still green with envy but also grateful to you for sharing all the sound advice you picked up between swims!

  11. January 18
    Reply

    Yikes! I think I use the words “yummy” and “tasty”. Uh oh.
    Thanks, for the write up.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing Brooke. I am so jealous of your trip, what an amazing experience with a super talented panel bloggers! I really wish I could have gone, hopefully next year!

    • January 19
      Reply

      I hope so, Sonja! It was an incredible experience that I hope more people will come to.

  13. January 19
    Reply

    Thank you SO much Brooke for your insights from the trip. I can’t imagine how fantastic it was to be there with that list of great food writers, bloggers and photographers. I found your site thanks to MattBites. I’m a fledgling food blogger but very serious about growing my blog and getting better. Your tips on food blog strategy and food writing really hit home for me. My head is swimming with ideas.Thanks again!

    • January 19
      Reply

      Thanks for coming by, Sally. The beginning of your blog is such an exciting time! Good luck to you and your blog!

  14. January 19
    Reply

    Brooke, Thank you so much for sharing your adventure. I’m living vicariously. Already saving for next year. Any idea where it will be?
    Lauren

    • January 19
      Reply

      Lauren, there’s been talk there may be a Food Blog Camp in Thailand…But it’s all still very much up in the air.

  15. How exciting for you. And thanks for the great pointers. When you talk about content, technology and community, it drives home the point that a blog is a lot of work, and you have to love doing it to do it and stay at it.

  16. January 22
    Reply

    I kne you would have a concise and intelligent wrap up of this event. GREG

  17. I absolutely love your picture of the marketplace! Clearly, I need to be focusing on my photography more than anything!! It was so lovely meeting you, and since you’re close-by in LA, perhaps we’ll meet up again. Will you consider going to next year’s exotic location? It’ll be hard to resist, won’t it?

  18. January 27
    Reply

    Caitlin, I agree. What didn’t come across is that Adam’s class showed you the tips used by the old-guard as compared to the things used to create completely edible creations.

  19. […] of what form of food blogging gathering you pick–be it a one-day seminar or multi-day getaway–there are a few key things to keep in mind in order to make the most of your time there. For […]

  20. […] blame Michael Ruhlman for my caramel corn craving. Back in January– soon after we met at Club Med’s Food Blog Camp—Ruhlman started a flurry of debate on Twitter on the merits of cooking popcorn in cold oil. […]

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