The First Annual Best of Milwaukee Web Awards 2011

I had no idea I was even nominated for two of the Shepherd Express’s Best of Milwaukee Web Awards until someone tweeted me to say they had voted for me in the category Best Personal Blog. Voted for me? When I mentioned this fact to another friend and fellow avid tweeter, she replied, “Yeah, you were also nominated for Favorite Twitterer.” The nominations came as a surprise, but who doesn’t like being nominated for your favorite local alternate news source‘s web awards?

Last night’s web awards were a good time. Aside from enjoying complimentary hamburgers, wings, and beer samples from Lakefront Brewery, it was fun to be around the friendly, creative Milwaukeeans who do great things on the web. Milwaukee has a great social media culture. I’ve only been blogging and tweeting for a short while, but through that, I have met so many interesting and innovative Milwaukeeans. Interacting with so many different people on Twitter has made the city of Milwaukee feel like a small town (which most of you non-natives probably think it is anyway).

The Best of Milwaukee Web Awards were all in good fun and if anything, I am inspired  become an even better blogger and tweeter. It was an honor just to be nominated. I ended up being the first runner-up in both the Best Personal Blog and Favorite Twitterer categories and my name was printed in the latest issue of the Shepherd Express. Not too shabby.

Hats off to M.A.A.R.S. Attack for winning the Best Personal Blog title (as well as Best Tumblr and Best Band with an Online Presence) and Burp Blog, for taking the title of Favorite Tweeter as well as Best Food Blog. Here’s to another year of tweeting and blogging!

Take A Picture, It Lasts Longer

That some people are keeping photographic food diaries and posting them online does not surprise psychotherapists. “In the unconscious mind, food equals love because food is our deepest and earliest connection with our caretaker,” said Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders and food fixations at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “So it makes sense that people would want to capture, collect, catalog, brag about and show off their food.” –“First Camera, Then Fork,” New York Times. 4/7/2010

Ever notice how these days, people  love to take pictures of their food?   Go in to any restaurant and I bet you will find someone who is snapping a picture of their sandwich before digging in.  In fact, go no further than your Facebook or Twitter news feed and I guarantee you will find someone who has just posted pictures of the savory breakfast sandwich they just ate or dishes from a lavish dinner party they recently  prepared.  It’s almost as if these photos scream, “look at my incredible culinary skills; too bad you weren’t here to enjoy them” or, “It’s a shame you aren’t as skilled at cooking as I am.”   I’ll admit, sometimes I feel a tinge of jealousy when I see such photographs.  I wouldn’t mind sampling your chicken parm or salmon ceviche next time I’m in your neck of the woods!

Before I go knocking this recent phenomenon, I’ll admit, I’m just as guilty of taking pictures of my food, too.  Due to my slight obsession with sandwiches, I will take picture of a delicious sandwich before eating so that I might forever remember its beauty and its ingredients.  I’ve been known to snap a photo of the dinner I cooked next to a floral arrangement and strategically placed glass of wine in the background and then posting them  to my Facebook or Twitter pages.    Should I feel embarrassed about taking pictures of my food before eating it?  Is taking pictures of your meals and then posting them online a little too boastful?

To gain insight into this phenomenon of food photography, I decided I needed to dive deeper into the culture of foodies and food photographers.  To do so, I got myself invited to the Wisconsin Board of Cheese’s Grilled Cheese Academy party at Cafe Soleil in Madison, WI.  The exclusive party was for food bloggers and people like myself who had won invitations from Wisconsin Cheese on Twitter.  Thankfully, my friends at Burp Blog and new friend from Cake Walk were also attending (and graciously drove me to Madison), thus granting me a portal into the world of food bloggers and food photography.

The moment we arrived at Cafe Soleil, it was apparent that along with gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, food photography was also on the menu.  Food bloggers from all over Wisconsin gathered at Soleil not only to sample the cuisine, but to network with other food bloggers while meticulously cataloging the dishes of the evening.  Food photography was encouraged and done with pride.

After sampling several grilled cheese sandwiches and the beers that were paired with them, the food bloggers began to record what they had sampled.  I watched in awe as my blogger friends grabbed samples of the sandwiches and moved them to the window in order to get better lighting for their photos.  They arranged the sandwiches on napkins and placed them with their beer pairings.  After snapping photos of the sandwiches from various angles, the bloggers wrote down a list of each sandwich and its ingredients to post along with the photos on their respective blogs.

It was fascinating to read their posts about the Grilled Cheese Academy on their blogs because I had learned what went into recreating such an event in a blog post; the sampling, the photography, the write-up.  After witnessing this event, I realized that food photography is not boastful when used for a good purpose, such as food blogging.  Simply posting your food photos to Facebook or Flickr with the tag line “look what I can cook” can come across as a little boastful.  If you are going to post pictures of what you recently cooked or tasted at a restaurant, tell the story behind the photos.  People love a good story especially when food is involved.  However, if you’re not the storytelling type, at least share the recipe along with your food photographs!