Finding My Salon

Algonquin Table
Algonquin Table by Al Hirschfeld (Algrt.jpg‎)

Going on a summer vacation isn’t a unique concept. But a group of food bloggers vacationing together? It’s a somewhat unusual idea, considering how our friendships all began.

We started as strangers with a common bond. We got to know each other over website pages. We forged friendships over Twitter and the occasional get together. Press trips and conferences followed. But rare are the times when we food professionals come together without an conference or PR event to motivate long periods of time together. Unfamiliar are moments that aren’t devoted to networking, talking technology, and sharing food stories.

We’ve perfected the art of eating together. But a vacation?

The plan was simple. A small group of food blogging friends–Matt Armendariz, Adam Pearson, Maggy Keet, and Gaby Dalkin–would gather together at a retro-house in Palm Springs for a mini-vacation. There would be no agenda and no to-do list. We would be without PR wranglers and our time together would be devoid of “break out sessions”. The only objective was to spend time together and relax by the pool.

Later, I would find out there would be wigs. But more on that later.

Palm Springs Food blog salon

#PSSalon

I’ve spent my entire artistic career quietly dreaming of a day when I would be invited to sit at a table with great thinkers, writers, artists and confidantes. I never could find my fellows in the performing world. I failed to locate true collaborators in film school. Was my dreamy ideal of a 17th century salon–a place where great thinkers and artists would come together to inspire, critique, and develop their craft–a pipe dream?

Truth be told, it wasn’t until I joined the food blogging community almost four years ago, that I began to experience a modern academy.  How we food bloggers influence, encourage, and drive each other to achieve great things through our online work and social media maneuvering is something to behold. It is exactly what I had been yearning for all these years.

It wasn’t until I took my place at that gaping-holed dining room table in Palm Springs with the likes of Matt Armendariz, award winning photographer and designer; Adam Pearson, a professional food stylist; Gaby Dalkin, a personal chef, driven business woman, and online personality; Maggy Keet, a writer, visionary, and co-founder of the non-profit Bloggers without Borders–that I realized that the hashtag #PSSalon was a true representation of what was happening. We didn’t push. We didn’t schedule. We just let things happen. We coaxed each other to investigate our motives and our professional opinions. We explored hard topics, engaged in witty banter, and artistic criticism.

Palm Springs Salon became a 2011 version of the 1920’s Algonquin Table.

Matt Armendariz
Matt Armendariz and his lovely dogs

The refrigerator was filled to capacity with fresh ingredients, beautiful produce, and handpicked wines. The granite countertops held overflowing bowls of avocados and tomatoes for Gaby. We gathered to cook and clean together and dream up the next meal.

The living room became the gathering spot for laptops and iPhone charging. The dining room table was where we ate, played Uno, and tossed witty banter about the state of our craft. We talked about developing business plans and writing cookbooks as we lounged on floaties and paddled in the sky-blue water of the pool.

There were quiet early morning moments before the sun rose, where we silently sipped lattes freshly brewed from Matt and Adam’s Nespresso machine, caught up on our emails and scanned our brethren’s sites. Between tanning by the pool or cooking up the next meal, we took writing breaks and did work.

When inspiration hit, we grabbed wigs. We developed characters and unravelled intricate story lines from our collective imaginations. We shopped at thrift stores and found outfits so outrageous, fat tears ran down our faces as we laughed at the oddity of it all.

Yes, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram break open whole new realms of opportunity for friendship. Conferences are great for a quick face to face. But if you believe that the work you do online is more than a hobby, then invest in your craft. Work hard and save your pennies. Find great thinkers and artistic confidantes.

  • Think beyond networking and agendas.

  • Plug in, get quiet, and invest in yourself and others.

  • Luxuriate in roomy exchanges.

  • Enjoy the great company of inspiring people.

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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.

14 Comments

  1. October 2
    Reply

    Got a huge kick out of seeing your photos on twitter while you were in PS…looks like a great time and while I’ve met Maggy, I’d love to meet the rest of you inspiring folks someday soon 😉

    • October 2
      Reply

      Thanks Winnie! It was a great time. And yes, Maggy is amazingly wonderful! So is Gaby, Matt, and Adam!

  2. I was recently fortunate enough to attend a culinary event that was all about the food, the people and the place. Yes, there were a few other bloggers but we never once talked blog talk…it was all about the chefs and the food and yes, that AMAZING scenery.

    So inspired that I’m hoping to fulfill my dream of bring other bloggers to this event for the same reason and you said it all. No classrooms, no breakout sessions, no PR. Just time to spend together doing what we love; eating, drinking, talking and sharing. It may all have started with food but it’s the resulting friendships that mean even more.

  3. Sounds positively dreamy to me, really. What a great way to connect and share. Great peeps too :)

  4. October 2
    Reply

    What a great vacation – you deserve it – and thanks for sharing x PS I’ve always thought Matt A has a little of the Dorothy in him – and that would be Dorothy Parker.

  5. This is my favorite post you have ever written. It speaks to me in great volumes. I am so happy for you, me and all our pals that we have found such inner strength and peace through each other. I have always been an artist and often found it difficult to relate to others. It is very comforting to know that I have a community of people who understand my quirks and BIG ambitions. Thanks for letting us in to share such an intimate weekend….
    Here’s to your salon and more to come for each of us who chose to pursue that path.
    “I’ve spent my entire artistic career quietly dreaming of a day when I would be invited to sit at a table with great thinkers, writers, artists and confidantes. ” Me too! xxoo

    • October 3
      Reply

      Thanks Marla. It’s a gift to be surrounded by such talented, driven and inspiring people like you and our LA posse.

  6. October 3
    Reply

    I agree with marla, I really loved your story. This got me to think about the people I do referral marketing and maybe I might convince them to go on a little outing with me and my crew.

  7. October 4
    Reply

    The only thing I can say negative about this, is that I’m sorry I wasn’t there. But otherwise, it looks like a great vacation! ; )

  8. Love this: “enjoy the great company of inspiring people.” We need to do more of that with each other, there are too many PR wranglers who get in between us sometimes… I want to join you next time!

  9. October 4
    Reply

    Just reading this makes me want to put on a wig. Lovely post. Cheers to roomy exchanges.

  10. October 5
    Reply

    What a lovely post, Brooke. You captured the food blogging community perfectly. I have had several opportunities to just hang out with those that I’ve been lucky enough to meet in this community. It is a feeling of belonging and of sharing ideas. Really, you can’t beat it.

  11. Sherry Trasher
    October 28
    Reply

    Brooke,
    You and I are two peas in a pod. So happy to have stumble across your blog. I’m a chef who returned to school to finish a creative writing degree. So pleased to meet you.

    Sherry

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