Whether you’re a foodie, a wine connoisseur, a blogger or a budding entrepreneur, the Food & Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida, is for you! Viva Fifty was invited to attend this year’s event at the Rosen Shingle Creek, courtesy of Datz, a fabulous family restaurant in Tampa. The point of this post is not to brag about what a great time we had, but rather share with you our takeaways and also reasons why you should consider attending the 2015 conference, which will be held at the same venue next summer. What will you find there? Workshops, keynote speeches, networking, cooking demonstrations, and the possibility of making new friends!
Family Foodie, a woman with a purpose
First of all, conference founder Isabel Reis Laessig is an inspiration. This mother of four started blogging on Family Foodie in 2011 when her eldest went off to college. On asking her daughter what she would miss the most about home, she answered, “the time we spend in the kitchen and our family dinners.”
That was the spark that ignited the Sunday Supper movement that started in 2012 and which has the purpose of maintaining important values such as dining together as a family. Just listening to Isabel’s opening words at the reception dinner was worth the trip!
“I wondered whether anyone would come, and here you all are,” she said to over 200 attendees sipping Gallo Family Vineyards wine and sampling food from the different restaurants at the resort. She was quick to add, “this is a dream come true!”
Her enthusiasm is contagious and experiencing the feeling of community she’s built in just three years is reassuring. Obviously, passion, drive and action produce results. What started with one blog post evolved into a full-blown movement.
Harris Rosen, a businessman who gives
Harris Rosen, philanthropic businessman, founder of Rosen Shingle Creek resort and the Rosen College of Hospitality, shared his words of encouragement to budding entrepreneurs and visionaries: “You need to work long hours, you need to suffer before you make it big. Be faithful to your vision. The best thing about being successful is that then, you can help others.”
Rosen has spent the second half of his life doing just that, and built his successful empire on what could have been considered a failure: being fired from Walt Disney World almost 40 years ago. How’s that for inspiration? Soon to turn 75, Rosen exudes a can-do, positive yet humble attitude. I’ll have whatever energizer he’s taking, thank you very much!
Room for authenticity
Something I personally thrived on at this particular conference was mingling with people of all ages determined to reimagine their lives as bloggers or entrepreneurs (or both!). It was enriching to share information, insights and well, a glass of wine or two paired with different flavors of Cabbot Cheese.
On a geeky note, I was blown away by the SEO (search engine optimization) presentation given by Dan Cristo, cofounder of Triberr, an online platform that helps bring together bloggers and influencers who share a common interest. Visionaries are ageless. I’ll also have some of whatever he takes to be sharp and witty in his delivery.
Coryanne Ettiene (Kitchen Living) and Jackie Gordon (Singing Chef) reaffirmed my personal belief that branding oneself and one’s projects needs to be based on authenticity. Coryanne also reminded that when leading a website, focusing on people, not numbers, is the key to building a community. That is the essence of Viva Fifty, so I was happy to hear that I’m not alone in that conviction.
The power of making a difference
Chatting it up with Wendy Read, founder of Sunchowder’s Emporia and Deborah Silverman Bowen, communications director of Datz4Foodies, reaffirmed the power of wanting to make a difference. If you visit the restaurant Datz in Tampa, Florida, you will experience this first-hand.
Transparency and generosity is their motto. Curious about the recipe of one of their dishes? They will give it to you! Need to reach the owner? She’ll hand you her card with her personal e mail. Want to tour the premises? Just ask. With over 30K Facebook likes and 56K check-ins, Datz has the pulse of social media to keep in touch with faithful customers.
If you’re in the area, you really should visit them for good food, craft beers and even better service! Make sure you check out their online menu before you go. It’s divvied into breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner to make it easy on patrons. You might want to round off your meal by visiting Dough, their pastry shop, and take your goodies to go!
Let’s go places with friends and family
Of course reuniting with some of my Latina online colleagues was wonderful, and the icing on the cake was bringing my thirteen-year old daughter. She’s both a foodie and a born networker. She was so hyped by the feeling of empowerment all around, that she launched her VivaTeenz Instagram account. A proud mom moment for me!
To top off our experience, we had a wonderful road trip there and back, in our beautiful and fuel-efficient Prius thanks to Toyota Latino! We will certainly be on the lookout for next year’s Food & Wine conference and if you’re a foodie, a blogger, an entrepreneur, a visionary, we just might meet you there!