The 2017 Female Foodie Retreat has come and gone. Before I delve into the details let’s talk about the 2016 Female Foodie Retreat shall we? The 2016 FF Retreat was my first ever retreat. It had been nearly 10 months since forming a contributing team, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to fashion the weekend. I decided to open it up to the public (and my contributors of course) and design two days of learning and education. I was inspired to do this after seeing my amazing wedding photographer Emmy Lowe put on amazing retreats for aspiring photographers (she calls it “For The Love” Retreat- how adorable yes?).
So that was the game plan. A lot of learning and delicious food. Some attendees were Female Foodie contributors, others were newcomers to photography and blogging, and some just wanted to have a good time and spend a weekend in Portland. I learned a LOT and my main takeaways were: 1) I don’t love teaching 24/7 for an entire weekend. So much respect to my friend Emmy who loves teaching and demonstrating all weekend long at her retreats, but for me this was not a good fit. 2) It was really difficult for me to plan a team retreat in a city that I had only been to once with very limited connections, and 3) At the end of the day, my retreat attendees wanted more down time to relax and get to know each other.
I avoided the thought of putting on a retreat in 2017 because it was so difficult and time consuming to plan the previous year, but then the thought came into my mind- what if I did it completely different? Just a relaxed weekend of delicious food, fun, and lots of team bonding time. And this go round just for Female Foodie contributors only. I sent out a message to my team and got an immediate positive response. Game on.
We met in downtown Salt Lake City on a Friday afternoon and spent the weekend in the most adorable Airbnb. If you’re looking for a fantastic place for large groups in SLC, make sure to check out our Airbnb– highly recommend. It was so fun to meet my team members in person, several of which live in different states. We have interacted a lot online but there is something extra special about interacting in the flesh and spending more than just a few minutes together.
First things first, dinner. I really wanted to show my retreat attendees the best of Salt Lake City so we kicked things off at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, a long time favorite of mine. You better believe they’re one of the best restaurants in downtown SLC and furthermore on my list of Top 10 Restaurants in Salt Lake City. It simply cannot be missed.
We enjoyed hearing from Alex Moody, a long time employee and one of the executive chefs for Settebello, who told us about the history of Napoli style pizza. He talked about the classic Margherita pizza (thank you, Queen Margherita), and some of the original pizzerias you can still eat at today in Italy. He mentioned requirements to become a VPN pizzeria, how to make a perfect pizza, and by the end our hot pizzas arrived just in time for us to take copious amounts of photos- the start of a great weekend.
After eating every last bite we made our way back to our Airbnb to continue the evening with a cake decorating class by none other than Courtney Rich of Cake by Courtney. 1) She is the goddess of all things cake. 2) If you haven’t checked out her recipes you must visit her blog now (try not to lick your screen) and start planning. 3) When I polled the retreat attendees with a list of options for workshops, and Courtney was on the list, it was unanimous that literally everyone wanted her to be a part of our weekend.
I could take an entire blog post to talk about all the tips and tricks she mentions, but a few things I learned that evening (and this wasn’t my first time seeing Courtney demonstrate!): 1) If your cakes sink in the middle you can make sure your ingredients are expired, check your oven temperature with a thermometer, and make sure the recipe is written for the altitude you’re baking at. 2) The crumb coat (aka the first layer of frosting), doesn’t need a lot of frosting. Just enough to barely cover the cake before you throw it in the freezer. 3) The Drip! Favorite quote of the evening by far: “Don’t be afraid of the drip”. Feeling more reassured knowing that not all of Courtney’s drips were perfectly symmetrical. Even though the cake was still perfection.
Moral of the story: you now know where to go for a great cake recipe and this Biscoff cake was literally to die for. We loved spending the evening with Courtney! The first evening was wrapped up with a slice of cake for everyone, more snacks, and lots of girl talk.
Day #2 of the Female Foodie Retreat began at the Salt Lake City Farmers Market. It was fun to have the combination of both SLC locals who knew their way around, and out-of-towners who hadn’t been before. Our SLC Farmers Market is a nice medium-sized market with a great slew of food vendors, crafts, produce, and lots of eclectic “musicians” if you will.
Our greatest discovery of the Farmers Market that morning was unquestionably Raclette Machine. Their website explains it all perfectly. “Raclette: French for scraped. A traditional alpine dish made of melted cheese scraped right onto a plate of potatoes, bread, pickles, and cured meat. Raclette Machine is a mobile food service bringing this classic European Dish to SLC, Utah.” Thankfully they had whipped up a breakfast sandwich combining their melted cheese with egg, prosciutto, and arugula for the combination of the century. I shared a fun video of the assembly of this beautiful breakfast sandwich on instagram, of course.
The next few hours were spent cooling off (thank you, AC), and trying to work up an appetite for lunch and more snacking! We were so lucky to have Lick’d Pops at our Female Foodie Retreat. Another favorite local Utah company and literally the best popsicles I have had in my life! Some of the flavors we enjoyed included coconut dark chocolate, grapefruit & honey, and banana cream pie. #cometomama
Since this year’s Female Foodie Retreat was in my hometown, I wanted to really share some of the most signature SLC or Utah things to eat and enjoy. For lunch on day two we enjoyed Cafe Rio catering! It was delicious and so incredibly seamless from ordering to confirming all of the details, to pickup and setup. We enjoyed enchiladas which came with chips, two salsas, house dressing, beans, rice, and pico de gallo with lettuce.
Our workshop for day two was focused on branding. It was fun to discuss as a group topics including the definition of branding, how to build a brand, and brands that we identify with. A few goals I am working on pertaining to branding: 1) integrate my brand into every part of my business (ie: my facebook page could especially use some love here), 2) be consistent with my branding, and 3) stay true to my brand- because it’s so tempting to try and be someone else! Really fun to reflect on key concepts and get ideas/inspiration from others.
What did we do after our branding workshop? You guessed it, more food. It was so fun for me to introduce Swig, Utah’s favorite soda & sweet shop (especially for peeps like me who are always on the go). We loved using their new catering services- they delivered everything to our Airbnb including soda, all of the mix-ins, PELLET ICE, cups, lids, straws, a guide to their drink recipes, plenty of napkins and homemade cookies. My current favorites are the classic sugar and chocolate coconut pecan so those were the two that they brought! It was so easy and FUN to make our own drinks (don’t ask me how many I had) especially on such a hot summer day.
More relaxation and down time. I brought some of my favorite games from home including Banana Grams (basically speed Scrabble) and The Game of Things. I’m a huge fan of board games and these were so fun to play with a group! The Game of Things is so easy and literally left us on the floor laughing and crying.
Dinner that evening was at another one of my Top 10 Places to Eat in Salt Lake City– Spitz! There area few places in SLC for delicious Mediterranean cuisine but Spitz conquers them all. They have so many incredible menu options- my favorite is unquestionably the Street Cart Fries (sweet potato fries please) with mixed meat. The rotisserie cooked meat combined with fresh vegetables, warm fries, and homemade sauces is truly delectable.
We rolled ourselves home (joking, but not really) and finished the evening with a gift exchange or “Favorite Things” party. Here’s how it works:
- Think of something you love for $10 or less
- Purchase three of those items (all the same)
- Bring all three to the gift exchange in a bag (unwrapped)
- Share/show your favorite item and draw names for three people who will go home with that item
- Everyone will walk away with three favorites from friends
It was soooo fun to see what everyone brought. A lot of food themed gifts and nothing was the same! I gave epsom salts, my favorite dry shampoo, and my favorite burts bees chapstick (grapefruit FTW). #treatyoself
Sunday morning was our final morning together. We all slowly gathered our things together and enjoyed a delicious breakfast with homemade buttermilk pancakes thanks to Kodiak Cakes. I am so sold on their amazing mixes and loved being able to share the Kodiak Cakes story with my team. Each of the retreat attendees went home with a Kodiak Cakes mix to test out at home. We enjoyed their honey buttermilk pancakes with fresh whipped cream and strawberries. #nomnomnom
I think that we all secretly were hoping that this weekend wouldn’t end! We finished off our morning together with a cheese & charcuterie board thanks to Creminelli Fine Meats. Each of the retreat attendees went home with a couple of different flavors of this amazing salami including their original, mildly spicy, and barolo salami flavors. It was fun to see most of these ladies try Creminelli salami for their very first time. I’ve been receiving messages from participants all week reporting to me the various ways they’ve enjoyed their delicious salami.
A comprehensive blog post can’t do our weekend justice. I am so incredibly lucky to work with a team of women who have such a passion for food and what they do. We are all so different in many ways but come together for our love of food and connection. Grateful I changed the dynamic and focus of this retreat- it was absolutely wonderful to get to know each of these women on a much deeper and personal level. Looking forward to another year working together and a Female Foodie Retreat again next summer!