Blogger Mike Wangbickler in action at IFBC 2014.
Blogger and wine pro Mike Wangbickler delights upon learning of a new gluten-free oat crisp from Raincoast Crisps.

This weekend is the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. It’s hard to think of a more food-obsessed city, so this will be a weekend of discovery. New commercial products, inventive chef creations, and a chance to explore the food scene of the Northwest. Here are a couple of images from the first few hours.

In addition to tasting plenty of interesting food (it’s ok for you to be jealous,) there’s real work here, and real learning. One excellent session earlier today focused on food photography, specifically how to break out of the cliche pictures that so many of us take.

One of Seattle’s top chefs, Thierry Rautureau (thechefinthehat.com) of Loulay restaurant, demonstrated how to make a simple fresh tomato soup with just a few ingredients pureed in a blender. He suggests freezing the puree in bags, then defrost and puree again with olive oil right before serving.

An emerging theme of the conference is the promotion of vegetables to center stage instead of side dish. Food writer Karen Page told the bloggers that people around the world – and especially in industrialized countries like the United States – are catching on to the idea that vegetables hold the flavors that makes dishes exciting. Chef Thierry favors brining vegetables to add spice to Thanksgiving dinner, or lightly pickling celery sticks to make the crunchy bites a bit more interesting.

Advice from the French chef: Don’t freeze squash. “Zucchini is  great vegetable to shred and put it right on a grill, but if you freeze it, you have a mushy blah thing,” says Rautureau.

Beef slider
Duck confit sliders were passed around at the start of a cooking demo by Seattle Chef Thierry Rautureau.
Fresh cold tomato soup
Chef Thierry Rautureau demonstrated making fresh tomato soup.
Chef Thierry Rautureau
French-born Chef Thierry Rautureau led a colorful cooking demo at IFBC 2014.