Saturday, October 22, 2011

Philly Area Food & Drink Writer Meet-Up at R2L


Smoked Salmon Brunch Pizza

A few of my favorite things: a breathtaking view of the city, local writers and one killer menu. I would take any one of these on a lovely fall afternoon. On Saturday, I had the good fortune to experience them all at once. A group of food and drink writers gathered at R2L for a meet-up. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Several months ago I approached the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) with an idea. I wanted to bring together local food and drink writers with the folks at Philly Homegrown in an effort to continue to build our foodie community. Our writers are passionate about their craft. I knew they would love to have a chance to come together. When I started out writing I never passed on an opportunity to learn from others. This event presented the attendees with an opportunity to engage in a collaborative effort to share knowledge and empower each other.

R2L was gracious enough to host the event. If you have not been to R2L add it to your bucket list a.s.a.p. Located on the 37th floor at Two Liberty Place, they have a birds’ eye view of Philadelphia. Their menu of creative American food by Chef Daniel Stern sets the scene for a spectacular culinary experience. The staff is simply phenomenal. I cannot say enough wonderful things about R2L.

They created an amazing menu of hors d’oeuvres including steak tartare, truffled flatbread, smoked salmon, risotto bites and tuna skewers. Cocktails included the R2L-EVATION (gin, parfait amour, luxardo, fresh lemon, cherry) and a SIDECAR (hennessy vs, pallini limoncello, cointreau, fresh lemon). Did I mention that every guest was greeted at the entrance with a glass of champagne? When I say amazing it is quite the understatement. Plated items for the food photography portion of the workshop included many eye grabbing meals such as the smoked salmon pizza at the top of the page.

Me and Chef Daniel Stern (photo courtesy of The Omnivore)

Chef Daniel Stern greeted the attendees before the workshop. He thanked them for keeping the conversation going about food and being so passionate about the local food scene.

Remaining photos courtesy of A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis

Caroline Bean (pictured left) and Alethia Calbeck (pictured right) spoke to the group on behalf of GPTMC. In Philadelphia, we are fortunate enough to have Philly Homegrown, an initiative of GPTMC. They promote chefs, restaurants, farms and flavors of the region’s 100-mile foodshed. Their site is a wealth of information on everything you would want to know about how to go local. Upcoming initiatives include a celebration of the hoagie on National Sandwich Day (November 3, 2011); their expanding presence on Foodspotting and news about Philadelphia’s local food online.

Eric Mencher

Eric Mencher, photographer and guest speaker, wowed the crowd with his some of his adventures from his 35 years as a photojournalist. He advised that the two most important ingredients in food photography are your eye and your camera. If you have an eye, and your eye is key, he advised that you can take memorable photos anywhere and with any kind of camera. Getting in close to the food, to visually express texture, shape and color is also key. He stressed that light, as we all know, can make or break a photo. He encouraged the group to experiment with light, move it around, seeing how and where the light strikes. He suggested shooting into the light, let the background go bright or shoot from above or below so the camera lens is almost touching the dish. He asked the group to move around to find their ideal image. The two tips that he gave at the end of the workshop were the ones he touted as the most important pieces of advice: shoot RAW and use Adobe Lightroom. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Shooting RAW and using Adobe Lightroom has dramatically improved my photos.

Attendees listening to Eric’s workshop

Attendees actively photographing the dessert cart

The dessert cart included various, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, tarts and other pastries.

As with previous events, once everyone got their photos, some of the food that was plated became fair game for the attendees. I announced that the dessert cart was up for grabs. Within the blink of an eye it was all gone. Can’t say I blame them. It’s too good to pass up.

I’m still on a post-event high. It truly was better than I could have ever expected. Everyone in attendance was bristling with excitement about the event and the opportunity to spend time together. R2L went above and beyond in every way to make sure everyone had a great experience. Caroline and Alethia were pivotal to bringing this community together to share and learn. Everything was perfect including the weather. The view from R2L is breathtaking. We had the sun shining through the windows, spectacular food and an amazing crowd. Truly wonderful!!!

Check out what some of the other writers had to say about the event:

The Palate Princess

A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis

Zen and Potatoes

My Life On A Plate

Bridges, Burgers & Beer

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Asian In America

I Can Cook That

From Graduate to Gourmet

Pass the Sushi

Feed Me Lee

South Jersey Locavore

Row Home Eats

Yum Marks the Spot

Jersey Bites

Eating in South Jersey

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24 Responses to “Philly Area Food & Drink Writer Meet-Up at R2L”

  1. 1

    Betty Ann @Mango_Queen — October 24, 2011 @ 11:50 AM

    What a great post about a wonderful Food Bloggers MeetUp! It was awesome to meet you and the rest of the food writers in the area. Well worth the 70 miles drive I made (one way). Thanks, Wendy! Till the next Meet Up!

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 11:54 AM

      Betty Ann it was so great to meet you. I’m thrilled that you could join us. Next one will be in the spring. I will definitely keep you posted!

  2. 2

    Chef Dennis — October 24, 2011 @ 11:56 AM

    I love it, what a great post about a stellar event! and your pics are stunning…lol
    thanks so much for including me in this event, it was wonderful and a great opportunity to meet all the Philly bloggers, I just wish I had more time to talk to each and every one of them!

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 11:59 AM

      Pics are stunning aren’t they? Dennis you are too funny! It was wonderful to have you there. I wish I had more time to chat with everyone too. So many great writers there.

  3. 3

    Jersey Girl Cooks — October 24, 2011 @ 12:20 PM

    So sorry I couldn’t make it. Looks like you did a great job of organizing! Beautiful food too!

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 12:42 PM

      Thanks Lisa! Hopefully you can join us at the next one.

  4. 4

    Erin - Sincere Food Love — October 24, 2011 @ 12:33 PM

    Saw lots of great tweets about this over the weekend! How do I get in on the action next time?

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 12:42 PM

      Erin we would love to have you join us. The next event won’t be until the spring. I always tweet a link to the event page at least a few weeks in advance of the event. This one sold out pretty quickly so make sure to sign up a.s.a.p. if you see an announcement.

  5. 5

    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — October 24, 2011 @ 12:58 PM

    I can’t believe I was in Philly this weekend and didn’t know about the meet-up! Just as well because I was in a friend’s wedding, but would love to meet everybody!

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 1:10 PM

      Lauren you’ll have to come back in the spring for the next meet-up. Would love to have you there!

  6. 6

    Emily Malloy @Cleanliness — October 24, 2011 @ 1:16 PM

    Fabulous recounting of the day! I wish I hadn’t forgotten my flash card at home so I could blog about it right away! Sigh, I suppose I will have to settle for tomorrow :)

    It was great to see your beautiful face again!

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 1:39 PM

      Emily you are too sweet. Always great to see you.

  7. 7

    Mikey — October 24, 2011 @ 1:18 PM

    Great event, Wendy. Looking forward to the next one.

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 1:39 PM

      Thanks Mikey! Stay tuned. Next one will be in the spring.

  8. 8

    patsy — October 24, 2011 @ 1:57 PM

    Looks like a fabulous event! So wonderful that you were able to bring so many food-loving people together.

    • Wendy replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 2:02 PM

      Patsy it really was a great event. So many wonderful writers in our area.

  9. 9

    Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen — October 25, 2011 @ 6:21 PM

    “became fair game” haha… I love the pizza… its annoying how the store bought ones always have tiny weeny bit of salmon when they say “salmon pizza”..

    • Wendy replied: — October 25th, 2011 @ 7:22 PM

      Jesica I totally agree with you about how some store bought pizzas short change you on the toppings. The pizza that R2L served definitely had a generous portion of salmon.

  10. 10

    Lynn — October 26, 2011 @ 9:11 PM

    Sounds like a wonderful event! Getting the community together is a great idea! The food looks amazing, and I would have loved to hear what the speakers had to say.
    The photography tips are great too. I haven’t started shooting RAW, it’s up next in my photography learning curve.

    • Wendy replied: — October 27th, 2011 @ 6:40 AM

      Lynn I would highly recommend shooting in RAW but I have to say your photos are so gorgeous that I don’t think you need to worry. It was a great event. We have a wonderful community.

  11. 11

    kita — October 27, 2011 @ 10:58 PM

    I know Im late but thank you so much for hosting such a great event. It was so much fun to meet you and everyone!

    • Wendy replied: — October 28th, 2011 @ 8:12 AM

      Kita you are more than welcome. It was great to meet you. Can’t wait to see you again in a few weeks!

  12. 12

    Mandy — October 28, 2011 @ 8:39 AM

    How wonderful! It looks like such a fabulous get-together…I would have loved to be a fly on the wall! It makes me seriously miss Philly!

    • Wendy replied: — October 28th, 2011 @ 9:24 AM

      Mandy I see you are an alum of Drexel. That’s a great school! The get-together was so much fun. I love our Philly community!

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