I just got back from one of the best, if not the best, weekend of my blogging life. Yes, I had a great time at last year’s Chicago GFAF Expo. But, being an official blogger and in the thick of it all at this year’s expo couldn’t have been beat!
First, a huge thank you needs to go to Jen, Maureen, and GFAF Expo team for getting the whole thing to run so smooth – like butter! I don’t know how in the world you organized that many vendors, bloggers, authors, and attendees but you did and it was awesome.
We had a great set-up at the bloggers and authors table – in-between amazing ladies like FrannyCakes (Mary Fran Wiley) and The Allergy-Friendly Cook (Cybele Pascal). Non-GFBF rocked the table and put up some amazing decor. He’s so talented (and also a great shirt-slinger and critical part of Celiac and the Beast). We had a giant bag full of our merch and were ready to meet our CATB family!(Special thanks to Ashley Mattinson Reed for some of these paparazzi shots!)
Our table got SLAMMED! Which, is awesome. I love the fact that everyone wanted to meet the bloggers and authors behind my favorite blogs and books. I was even starstruck! An extra thanks to the CATB loyal readers who stopped by, took pictures with me, and bought some of our merch. You guys made my weekend!
Now, let’s get into what you’ve been waiting for – what was at the expo? I’ve divided this post into three categories: favorite new products, favorite GF companies, and favorite people (because who could leave out the blogger lovin’?).
Favorite new product finds!
Woodchuck’s new RESERVE Cider
This is aged in bourbon barrels (looking back at when I wrote this I don’t know if it’s true or if I just wanted it to be true – have to fact check this little number) to have a finish that’s just like bourbon. This is a great mix for someone who loves the hard stuff like myself, but wants to have a sparkly drink like a carbonated cider. This has to be my favorite Woodchuck, hands down! Just look at this face.
Earth Balance PB Popps
Earth Balance PB Popps are vegan, GF, DF and an interesting mix. It’s popcorn with peanut butter and oats. Sounds weird because it is, but this is just the kind of snack that I crave watching TV late at night.
Way Fare Snacks
I’ve never been a fan of vegan cheese, or faux cheese. However, I was very impressed with a company callled WayFare that makes vegan GF cheese spread and pudding and ice cream. Although I didn’t sample the ice cream myself, I heard people rave about it. All of their products are made from oats (yes, certified). I really don’t know how they made oats taste like cheese but I’m not asking questions. I just like that I found a vegan cheese! I just saw on their website that they’re certified by the GIG. Cool!
Against the Grain Pizza
I finally could try Against the Grain pizza and I was NOT disappointed. Oh man, y’all were right when you told me that this pizza was awesome. So happy I could try the flavors, but I’m bummed that I don’t get all the flavors at my Whole Foods!
You know how much I love subscription boxes – I’m a big fan. Loving that there’s another player in the market – Taste Guru. They have a (HUGE) gluten-free box-of-the-month for only $24.99 and they offered a great deal at the expo. If you didn’t take advantage of it – you were missing out!
If you saw my Instagram, you clearly saw how much I fell in love with Zest Bakery. They delivered donuts and sandwiches – how could I not love them! The quality of their sandwiches were so awesome. I felt like I am missing out by not living in the Bay Area, because I’d be there eating lunch every day!
Favorite GF companies!
But the expo wasn’t all unfamiliar faces – we got to rendezvous with some of our favorites too!
Bakery on Main
Their new instant oatmeal is a hit in our house, along with their walnut cappuchino bars! Plus, Whitney is a great team member and we love working with her!
Red Apple Lipstick
RAL is one of my favorite gluten-free brands out there. Just when I thought I had it all, I bought more, that’s just how good their product is! I rocked Red Apple Lipstick products all weekend long. I love love love these guys. Look for more cool stuff from them in the future.
Enjoy Life Foods
Not only do I love Enjoy Life Foods’ products, they were so great and sponsored a cocktail night for the vendors and bloggers. I can certainly back a company that does that! Thank you!
Who can forget Schar? I’m attributing my 10lb. post-expo weight gain to the fact that I finally got my hands on several boxes of their gluten-free graham crackers that might be the best thing in the universe. I may or may not have eaten a whole box during the expo – you decide. Schar was so lovely and got us all cool Schar shirts and sponsored the blogger lounge for us. Anne gave great presentations on Celiac disease and even Lauren-Lucille Vasser (The Celiac Diva) was there to share the Schar love. Go team Schar!
Crave Bake Shop
Remember when I poured over Crave Bake Shop in Lake O my last visit to Portland? Well, I got another taste (literally) of one of my favorite brands when Crave came to the expo. Kyra was showcasing her new boxed cake mixes and we might have eaten enough of her samples to equal a cake or two (every time I turned my head Non-GFBF was in the corner eating one). Find them on Facebook here and yes, I finally got my Crave shirt.
I think my favorite part about being an expo blogger is meeting all of the other bloggers! The internet is a strange place – you interact with faceless people all day long and you don’t really know who they are. Expos bring bloggers together and we actually can stand in the same room, face-to-face, and talk to each other without using our keyboard. I am thankful to all the amazing people I had a chance to meet. Here’s only a collection of them that I had a chance for a photo-op with!
Angela Lunt (on Facebook at Celiac Hashi Girl) hanging out with the CATB gang! Loving our hoodie posse! We are looking good!Thank you for all the great photos throughout the event, Angela! You rock!
Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats, The Celiac Diva, FrannyCakes, Mrs. Northwest Brandy Wendler (yes yes yes THE Brandy Wendler from Gluten Free Calendar), and Celiac and the Beast! Together in one awesome picture. I almost can’t handle all the awesomeness! Although I never got a pic with Brandy’s crown, she is one beautiful lady with the brains of a scholar, the heart of a nurse, and the advocacy that our GF community needs!
And just a couple of de-floured girls, hanging out with Miss Alison of A Girl Defloured. We adore these two ladies (Frannycakes far right) so much! Seriously, mwah mwah mwah these girls rock.
After the expo was all over and we had a chance to enjoy the company of fellow bloggers, we had the time of our lives. One of my favorite pics of the expo was taken by Frannycakes and features myself and Kyra from Crave. This lady – whooooo – has done it all. Not only does she have her own shop (that clearly we adored long before we even met her), has won reality TV shows about baking (not even just GF baking, “normal” bakers were beat by GF cupcakes), but she has to be one of the sweetest humans on the planet. People like this make me happy to be a part of the GF community.
Another beautiful group shot including KC (possibly the most hilarious human on the planet) from GFree Foodie.
Do I feel incredibly lucky to be standing next to these ladies and all of the other amazing bloggers that were part of the expo? Yes. Yes I do! It was such a pleasure to meet all of you, and I can’t wait to see you soon!
WHEW! That was a lot, but I hope you enjoyed it! I got so much swag from this expo, I’d love to share it with some loyal readers. Below is the contest for THREE GOODIE BAGS filled with treats and coupons from the expo. Please read below to enter to win, but remember, you have to read the blog post first!
HOW TO WIN A SWAG PRIZE PACK:
Enter to win one of three swag packs from the GFAF Expo in San Fran.
3 winners, each picked randomly (via Random.org) based on valid entries.
HOW IT WORKS:
Each person can be entered into this contest ONCE!
- YOUR ONE ENTRY: 1 entry (Limit 1 per person) on Celiacandthebeast.com. Comment on THIS post and tell us what product you were most interested in trying from this post, or – for those who attended the expo – tell us what product from the expo you were most interested in.
Thursday, February 28th at 5pm PST