Posted by mike | Filed under Community
Last night, a handful of food bloggers assembled over dinner and beer at Bocktown. I called it a Pittsburgh Food Blogger Meetup and threw the group up on meetup.com—mostly because it was a convenient tool for managing RSVPs and membership. Thanks to Lauren (@Burghilicious) and @iheartpgh, the event was even fairly well publicized. Even though we had only a small number of bloggers last night, we now have 16 local food bloggers on the site.
My hope is that next time I throw one of these together, I’ll have more input on scheduling and a few more participants. For this first outing, we hit a bad night for several people and ended up with 6 people—representing only 4 blogs. That sounds small, but it was definitely a fun crowd. Besides, every tradition has to start out somewhere.
The attendees. We originally had 8 signed up but lost two during the day. That’s actually not half-bad for a meetup group, and we had a few less people in the group at that point. The next outing will be planned a little further in advance and hopefully won’t land on another bad day for everyone.
Of the 6, we really only had four blogs:
At this point, I’m thinking about planning an event every 2 months or so. In fact, we’re already starting to talk about the next outing in December. If you’re interested and blog about food in Pittsburgh, why not join the group?
The goal: a blogger community. If you look at events like PodCamp and even the Blogfest events at Finnegans Wake, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a strong community of bloggers in Pittsburgh. I view the food blogger meetups as an opportunity to create a similar sense of community among a slightly smaller group: the food bloggers. Right now, I see a few of the other foodies at this event and that, but we very rarely get a chance to interact and we very rarely get to find out just who sits behind each of our various URLs.
If these meetups become nothing more than a chance to hang out and chat, I would be completely satisfied. We’re all foodies, and even idle chatter has a tendency to create stronger bonds among people with a common interest.
The venue: Bocktown. The meetup itself was something that a few other bloggers had suggested and had already been floating in the back of my mind for at least a little while. At the latest PodCamp (that would be #pcpgh5) the idea came up yet again in a discussion with a few of the food bloggers and Chris Dilla (of Bocktown fame). Based on that conversation, it really only made sense to have the first one at Bocktown. As I’m sure everyone can imagine, Bocktown was an extraordinary host. I’d go so far as to call Chris the queen bee of restauranteurs to the social Internet. Despite not being able to make it herself, she made sure that the GM came out to offer up a bottle of Scottish ale from Brewery Ommegang.
Despite the warm welcome from Bocktown, I’m hoping we can move the event around over time. I really think it’s important to share the love and not just attach ourselves to one place. We’re already talking about some options for next time, but I’m also very much open to suggestions. If you happen to be an Internet savvy restauranteur reading this post and want to host one of our meetups, feel free to drop me a line.
Substitute portobello. I’ve written about Bocktown before (with an ever-changing opinion of the place), but this wouldn’t be a real FoodBurgh post if I didn’t take a minute to talk about the food. For dinner, I opted for a side salad and a chicken sandwich—with a portobello mushroom substituted in for the chicken. That little substitution is one of the things Bocktown really has going for it, you can throw a portobello in as a meat replacement for just about anything—though the menu makes it sound like the option only applies to the “Dahn the Hatch” section.
Sustainable packaging to end the evening. Though I was pleased with Bocktown through the entire evening, one unexpected surprise caught me off guard: sustainable packaging. I only at half of my sandwich, so I decided to take the other half home. When they brought out my to-go box, it was quite literally a box: cardboard with just enough of a plastic coating to keep it from getting soggy. If they used the type of box I think they did, then it’s not only fully recyclable, but also made from recycled paper. Bonus points for Bocktown for puting in the extra effort (and expense) on this one.
A fun meetup indeed. I can only hope that everyone else had as much fun as I did. We ended up hanging around through three full rounds of drinks, had some good conversations, and got to know just a little bit more about each other. I’m looking forward to the next time we pull one of these together.
As I said a little earlier: we’re looking for food bloggers and places to visit. If you’re a food blogger, why not join the group? If you’re a restauranteur and want to make inroads with the bloggers, send me a quick email to start the conversation. We pay our own way and don’t tend to skimp on food and drink. :-)