IFBC: The First and Best Food Blogger Conference!

Organized by Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, IFBC was the first-ever conference for food bloggers, first held in May of 2009. The series focuses on three themes: Food, Writing, and Technology. This event will feature high quality educational sessions, personal networking opportunities, and the best food and wine of any blogging conference!

Past conferences have featured engaging sessions by industry leading authors, chefs, bloggers and more.

Join us this year in lively New Orleans!

Featured Chef and Restaurant: Tariq Hanna of Sucre!

tariq hanna

To say chocolate is in his blood is not far from the truth. Growing up in Nigeria, Tariq Hanna’s family lived a mere stone’s throw away from the national cocoa processing plant where aromas of roasting cocoa beans always filled the air.

Upon graduation from boarding school in England, Tariq moved to the United States to attend Lawrence Technical University in Detroit in hopes of becoming the next great architect. In an unforeseen move, Tariq soon found himself enrolled in culinary school at Oakland Community College. It was here that he realized his true potential. While focusing on finding a job in hot food, Tariq dabbled in pastries on the side, soon discovering his talent and love for the art.

In 1993, Tariq opened his own family-operated pastry and catering shop, The Northville Gourmet, at the age of 24. The Northville Gourmet was a labor of love, exploring all facets of cooking and baking he learned from not only his extensive work background, but also from his mother. In the second year of business, Tariq was awarded “Best Bakery” and “Best Dessert” in Detroit by Metro Times readers.

After six years of successful self-employment, Tariq was offered the opportunity of a lifetime as the first casino pastry chef in Detroit. In December 1999, MotorCity Casino opened in Detroit to rave reviews for its foodservice. This gave Tariq the chance to truly develop his distinct style and approach to what by now was his obsession. It was here that Tariq immersed himself in all things pastry, from taking and teaching classes to performing in competitions on a local and national level, by now getting national attention.

During his tenure at MotorCity, Tariq participated in several cooking competitions on the Food Network including the National Bread and Pastry Championship, Chocolate Fantasy Competition, and Gingerbread Mansions Competition. In 2004, he was the first ever Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year and Runner-up National Pastry Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation.

After seven years at MotorCity Casino, Tariq joined forces with New Orleans native restaurateur and entrepreneur Joel Dondis. Sucré was a vision of Joel’s for three years and as it came to life both Tariq and Joel began work to make the dream a reality. Sucré is a pastry experience unlike any the city has ever seen. As this great city goes through a modern day renaissance, Sucré hopes to pave the way for a new style of great Louisiana desserts.

See all of the delicious offerings Sucré has to offer on the website: http://www.shopsucre.com/

Follow Sucré on Twitter @sucreneworleans
Find them on Facebook!

Featured Chef: Drew Dzejak of The Grill Room!

chef drew dzejak

Executive Chef Drew Dzejak of The Grill Room will prepare gluten-free bites at the Friday evening reception at IFBC New Orleans!

A specialist in Progressive Continental cuisine, Drew joined The Grill Room as executive chef in the fall of 2008 and has been recognized as a New Orleans CityBusiness Culinary Connoisseur. Under his guidance, The Grill Room has received a rating of “Four Beans” from The Times-Picayune, with the headline, “The Grill Room Reclaims Its Glory.”

A native of Kissimmee, Florida, Drew learned his passion for cooking from his grandmother, mother and uncle. At the age of 15, Drew landed his first job at a bakery, making wedding cakes and pastries.

He moved to Charleston, SC to attend Johnson and Wales University where he earned degrees in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management.

Drew has worked at Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms and the Woodlands Resort & Inn in Summerville, SC. While at the Woodlands, he was part of the team that won the Mobil (now Forbes) Five Star Award. He also served as the Chef de Cuisine at the Charleston Place Hotel.

Drew’s philosophy on food is to cook what you love to eat – this ensures true passion for your finished product. He enjoys scouring local and world markets to find the freshest ingredients available to continually evolve his menu. Inspired by culinary influences ranging from the southeastern United States to Europe and Asia, Drew prepares dishes in a meticulous yet loving manner. The ultimate goal – to surpass guest expectations with every bite.

Outside of the restaurant, Drew enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and three dogs, and restoring Volkswagen Bugs.

the grill room

Follow The Grill Room on Twitter @WCTheGrillRoom
Like The Grill Room on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Amy McCoy of Poor Girl Gourmet!

amy mccoy

It's a pleasure to introduce Amy McCoy as featured speaker during the Eating on a Budget session at IFBC in New Orleans!

Amy McCoy is the author of Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget (Andrews McMeel, 2010). The Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook arose from the Poor Girl Gourmet blog, which Amy began in October 2008 when work in her first career as a broadcast producer of graphics and promos for cable networks dried up, and she found herself with an increasingly diminished bank account. Not wanting to sacrifice her food standards, she set forth to make high-quality food on a tiny budget and documented each meal. The blog led to the book, which features recipes serving at least four for $15 or less, a chapter of "splurges" - company-worthy entrees that serve four for $15-$30, a chapter on value wines, and a menu planner to help craft complete meals from the recipes in the book while staying on budget.

Amy is the chairperson of Slow Food Rhode Island. She and her husband, JR, live on a tiny gentleman's farm in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where they have kept bees for honey since 2000, have raised hens for eggs since 2004, maintain a large vegetable and herb garden, and have recently started raising heritage chickens and turkeys for meat. They are committed to supporting local farmers and farm stands, and have found that shopping local and shopping on a budget are not mutually exclusive.

Follow Amy on Twitter @PoorGirlGourmet
Find her on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Joe Girard of Rouxbe!

joe girard

Joe Girard, co-founder and VP of product development at Rouxbe, will speak on the Video panel at IFBC in New Orleans!

Joe Girard started cooking when he was 13 and has cooked at several four- and five-star hotels in all areas of the kitchen.

Joe is a serial entrepreneur, having come from a family of successful entrepreneurs. He has founded three successful business ventures over the past 15 years. Joe has a unique ability to assemble top talent, carve out new business models and execute well thought out business plans.

Prior to Rouxbe, he and Rouxbe Co-Founder Dawn Thomas, owned a specialized mobile film catering operation, which they built from the ground up and served over 250,000 cast and crew members.

Follow Rouxbe on Twitter @Rouxbe
Find Rouxbe on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Seattle Food Geek Scott Heimendinger!

scott heimendinger


Scott will be leading the Food Science session at IFBC New Orleans. We can't think of anyone better for the job!

Scott Heimendinger is the blogger behind SeattleFoodGeek.com. His mission is to boldly explore modernist cooking techniques and make them accessible to home chefs everywhere. Scott may be best known for his $75 DIY sous vide machine, which has been featured in MAKE Magazine and the New York Times, as well as the kitchens of hundreds of enthusiastic food geeks around the world.

Scott moved to Seattle to work as a Program Manager at Microsoft in 2005. Although he’s only been a Seattle resident for just over five years, he has come to love the city so much that he decided to put it in his domain name. Scott is also a regular contributor for Seattle Weekly and appeared on the cover of their Specialty Food Guide last year.

Seattle Food Geek is focused on the pursuit of new and innovative ways to prepare food, including sous vide cooking, the use of hydrocolloids and other modernist ingredients, the culinary applications of centrifuges, liquid nitrogen, lasers, high-voltage electricity, as well as anything else potentially dangerous and awesome.

Scott’s work appeared in the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook, he was named the number one food blog in Western Washington, and for two years in a row he’s been nominated for Seattle’s Sexiest Geek, and been robbed of the title.

Follow Scott on Twitter @SeattleFoodGeek
Find him on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Shauna James Ahern

shauna james ahern


Shauna James Ahern will lead the session "Removing One Food and Finding Many Others" at IFBC New Orleans. We could not be happier to have her!

Shauna is the award-winning author of the blog Gluten-Free Girl and author of the books Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too and Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.

Follow Shauna on Twitter @GlutenFreeGirl
Find her on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Deb Perelman!

deb perelman

The fabulous Deb Perelman of SmittenKitchen will be speaking during the Recipe Writing and Development session at IFBC New Orleans!

Food writer Deb Perelman is currently a writer and the home cook, photographer, and publisher behind Smitten Kitchen, though in past versions of her so-called career she's worked at a bakery, coffee shop, ice cream shop, record store, a nursing home, and an information technology magazine. She has written for Martha Stewart Living, Parenting and NPR. She lives in the East Village with her husband Alex and her 7-month old son, the incredible edible Jacob Henry. She likes bourbon, artichokes, things that taste like burnt sugar, and baked goods with funny names.

Her multiple award-winning blog, SmittenKitchen, has garnered praise from Martha Stewart, Saveur, Bon Appetit, the NYTimes, the LA Times, and many more.

Follow Deb on Twitter @SmittenKitchen
Find her on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Poppy Tooker

poppy tooker

We're thrilled that Poppy Tooker will lead the Sustainable Eating session at IFBC New Orleans!

Food personality, culinary teacher and author, Poppy Tooker is passionate about food and the people who bring it to the table. Poppy brings all of these elements to the table in her weekly radio show, “Louisiana Eats” which airs on WWNO-FM, the New Orleans NPR affiliate.

Poppy’s on-camera flair has made her a sought after guest on the Food Network and the History Channel. She provides weekly restaurant commentary on the PBS show, “Steppin’ Out” seen on WYES TV. Her book, “The Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook” received a Tabasco cookbook award and as named “Cookbook of the Year” by New Orleans Magazine.

With her motto, “Eat It To Save It”, Poppy has been instrumental in reviving many endangered foods and food traditions. She was recognized by the Times Picayune as a “Hero of the Storm” for her work reviving New Orleans restaurants and food providers following Hurricane Katrina. The International Association of Cooking Professionals recognized Poppy’s rebuilding efforts at their annual conference in April 2008, with their first ever, Community Service Award.

For over 25 years Poppy’s classes have centered on history and tradition as well as the food science reasons of why and how while remaining eminently entertaining. Food and Wine magazine described Poppy’s teaching techniques by saying "She may wear ceramic red beans in her ears and make finger puppets out of crawfish, but her class is certainly no joke. Rather, it compels you to take reams of notes so as not to forget a single nugget of her fascinating culinary wisdom."

Check out Poppy's blog: http://poppytooker.com/Home.html
Follow her on Twitter @PoppyT
Find her on Facebook!

Featured Chef and Speaker: John Folse

chef john folse

Chef John Folse will speak and show his famed cooking skills in an hour-long demonstration on Saturday afternoon at IFBC New Orleans!

Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company.

When Folse opened Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, he set out to market his restaurant by taking “a taste of Louisiana” worldwide. He introduced Louisiana’s indigenous cuisine to Japan in 1985, Beijing in 1986 and Hong Kong and Paris in 1987. In 1988, Folse made international headlines with the opening of “Lafitte’s Landing East” in Moscow during the Presidential Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1989, Folse was the first non-Italian chef to create the Vatican State Dinner in Rome. Promotional restaurants also included London in 1991 and 1993, Bogota in 1991, Taipei in 1992 and 1994 and Seoul in 1994. In 1988, the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge named Folse “Marketer of the Year” and the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of “Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”

The international success of Folse’s cornerstone property, Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, spawned the incorporation of several other Chef John Folse & Company properties. White Oak Plantation in 1986 established Folse’s catering and events management division. Chef John Folse & Company Publishing, since 1989, has produced nine cookbooks in his Cajun and Creole series, plus a novel, two children’s books and a religious memoir by other authors. “A Taste of Louisiana” is Folse’s international television series produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting since 1990. Chef John Folse & Company Manufacturing, since 1991, is one of the few chef-owned food manufacturing companies in America producing custom-manufactured foods for restaurants as well as the retail and food service industries. In January 2005 a new USDA manufacturing plant opened in Donaldsonville, and in 2007 growing demands pushed the plant to expand. In 2008, Folse cut the ribbon of his expanded 68,000 square-foot manufacturing plant.

The John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, opened in October 1994 and is dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana's rich culinary and cultural heritage. In August 1996, Folse began broadcasting his radio cooking talk show, “Stirrin’ It Up.” In 2001, “Stirrin’ It Up” expanded to a television cooking segment during the 5 p.m. newscast on WAFB-TV Channel 9 in Baton Rouge.

Exceptional Endings, the pastry division of Chef John Folse & Company, was launched in 1996 to create specialty desserts, pastries and savories. In October 1998, a fire destroyed the 200-year-old Viala Plantation, which housed Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant, and in May 1999 Folse opened his former Donaldsonville home as Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation, offering fine dining and bed and breakfast accommodations. In the year 2000, Folse incorporated Digi-Tek Productions, a full service digital recording studio. In 2002, Bittersweet Plantation Dairy opened, and offers a full line of fresh and aged cheeses, butters, yogurts and ice cream.

In 2010, Folse announced his business partnership with Chef Rick Tramonto and the formation of the new restaurant development company Home on the Range: Folse Tramonto Restaurant Development, LLC. The partners will launch their first joint restaurant, Restaurant R’evolution, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans in the city’s renowned French Quarter in fall 2011. Restaurant R’evolution will offer modern, imaginative reinterpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Folse has received numerous national and international accolades over the course of his 30-plus year career. In 1990, the American Culinary Federation named Folse the “National Chef of the Year,” and in 1999, the Research Chefs Association (RCA) named Chef John Folse & Company "Pioneers in Culinology" due to the efforts of Folse's culinary research team. He is the only chef ever to serve as chairman or president of the American Culinary Federation (1994), DiRōNA (2000-2001), and the Research Chefs Association (2005-2007). In 2006, Folse was inducted into the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s College of Diplomates. In October 2008, Folse was awarded the Louisiana Governor’s Cultural Economic Development Arts Award. He holds honorary Doctorates of Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and Baltimore International Culinary College.

Thirty years of culinary excellence later, Folse is still adding ingredients to the corporate gumbo he calls Chef John Folse & Company, which is as diverse as the Louisiana landscape, and he would not want it any other way.

Check out the Restaurant R'Evolution blog: http://www.revolutionnola.blogspot.com/
Follow Restaurant R'Evolution on Twitter @RevolutionNOLA
Find them on Facebook!

Featured Speaker: Merry-Jennifer Markham

merry-jennifer markham

We happily announce a fantastic speaker for our Time Management session: Merry-Jennifer Markham!

Merry-Jennifer Markham is a self-described "multitasker of the grandest sort." She works full time as a physician (an oncologist) by day and is the author of the home cooking food blog, the Merry Gourmet, by night. Through her blog, she shares her adventures in the kitchen, both good and bad, along with family-friendly original and adapted recipes - including an occasional cocktail recipe, for balance.

Her blog, food writing, and recipes have been featured in the Food News Journal, CNN's Eatocracy, Gourmet Live, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work has also been published in the Florida Times-Union.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, two children, and two cats.

Follow Merry-Jennifer on Twitter @MerryGourmet
Find her on Facebook!