Sugar and Spice Summit 2017: Reflections on food blogging

IMG_0664.JPGHere’s the thing about being a food blogger. Sure, you have countless other blogs to read and gather inspiration from, but ultimately, there’s no manual for something like food blogging.

Firstly, no one tells you to start a food blog. Something inspires you or prompts you to take the leap – for me, that was my sister.

Secondly, you can define yourself however you’d like, build your own brand and decide your niche and content. I know lots of people who build blogs to showcase their talents or opinions. My friend Eric co-writes an A&E blog, and my sister has a dope graphic design blog.

I finally understand what my high school teachers meant when they said that no one would hold my hand in college. Sure, Northwestern regulates some programs and clubs on campus, but on a personal level, it’s up to the individual to pursue their passion projects. I’ve found that I have to purposefully set aside time to work on developing my interests.

At The Sugar and Spice Summit, I got to hear from many experienced and successful female leaders in the food industry. I heard anecdotes about being the only woman in an all-male kitchen and learning how to get ahead (Gale Gand), pitching to investors (Alice Cheng and Mackenzie Barth), or pretending to cook for the president when they were a little kid (Mindy Segal – and it was Nixon, at the time). Their stories inspired me, giving me ideas for my own personal projects. They also showed me that my dream of working in the food industry isn’t ridiculous – it turns out that there are a wide variety of roles.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Goldstein, the student who organized the event to bring female professionals and students together. During our conversation I realized that Aarti Sequeira, the woman who had her own TV show on Food Network, Aarti Party, was a Medill alum! She worked briefly at CNN before leaving to go compete on and ultimately win Food Network Star. 

She was just sitting by herself, but still I felt so nervous. I didn’t bother asking to interview her, I just approached her and we just chatted for ten minutes or so. She told me about her time at Northwestern, asking me if a lot had changed. I told her that The Daily still reigned supreme, and that a magnificent new Kellogg building had just gone up, if she wanted a tour.

At the event, I spoke with two women at Kellogg working in the corporate and startup food instury, and also interviewed two older women from Evanston – one was part of a local composting startup and the other worked in catering and had a son considering culinary school.

Even though it was a few weeks ago, I still took away many vivid insights from the summit.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from maintaining Cat the Critic and Never Stationary is how to take initiative. Pushing the boundaries, challenging yourself to try new foods and writing styles, or even switching lanes and trying something new like videos (hint hint) – that’s all orchestrated by you. You write the sheet music.

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9 thoughts on “Sugar and Spice Summit 2017: Reflections on food blogging

  1. That’s amazing! How did you get started with food blogging? I completely agree with the unfairness of being a “woman in a male kitchen,” having had that experience before in a small Guatemalan kitchen!

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    1. I’ve had a personal blog since junior year, and after I graduated college my sister recommended that I start a food blog since I was about to start college. I just put a lot of effort into writing the first few reviews, but my style has definitely evolved a lot since then 🙂

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  2. Many thanks for a wonderful festival.Only managed to make the Sunday events, with my 11 yr old son, but a fabulous day for us both.Well done and coiuoatglatnrns, after all the work involved in setting up the festival!I do hope there will be another festival this year, and that more publicity will resilt in ever more people attending!Thanks again,Rob and Peter

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