Association of Food Journalists
bullet 2015 AFJ Annual Conference


Registration coming soon for the 2015 AFJ Annual Conference at The Poynter Institute


If it’s not already on your calendar, then make sure to highlight the dates Sept. 16-18, 2015, for the 2015 AFJ Annual Conference. Registration for this event will be announced in June 2015. Visit this website for conference updates.


Two days of education at the conference will take place at The Poynter Institute, the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener, and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st Century democracies.

Please note: One-on-one coaching sessions with Poynter faculty will be added to the program soon. There will be more opportunities for coaching sessions this year than at past conferences.




Tuesday, September 15


4-7 p.m. Pay-your-own-way mixer for early AFJ arrivals at Sea Salt restaurant, 183 2nd Ave. N, upper level of the Sundial complex.


Dinner on your own or, even better, with a new or new-to-you AFJ member.


Wednesday, September 16


Breakfast on your own or with an AFJ colleague


8 a.m. Registration open inside the Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown (see more on the hotel below)


8-9:30 a.m. AFJ board and committee meeting in the Courtyard Board Room (invitation only)


10-11 a.m. Presentation on sea salt at Sea Salt restaurant. Chef/owner Fabrizio Aielli uses 130 different types and flavors of salts from around the world to season his innovative dishes. Will include a salt tasting and culinary primer.


12 p.m. Informal lunch on the terrace at neighboring Locale Market, with opening remarks from chef and cookbook author Don Pintabona.


1:30 p.m. Travel to The Epicurean Hotel in Tampa. According to Forbes, this hotel is "The First Food-Themed Urban Luxury Hotel." Volunteers will offer a brief talk about the culinary scene in Tampa and St. Petersburg on the bus ride to the hotel.


2:15-3:45 p.m. Group divides into smaller groups for the following rotating activities at The Epicurean Hotel (each attendee will take part in each activity):




(AFJ attendees will reconvene at the hotel after all have participated in these activities.)


4-5 p.m. Panel discussion on the Tampa Bay dining scene (held at the Epicurean)


5:15 p.m. Return to the Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown


7 p.m. Taste of Florida, location TBD
Sample a wide variety of Sunshine State foods and beverages while mingling with new colleagues and old friends.


Thursday, September 17


Breakfast on your own or with an AFJ colleague


(All day sessions and events to be held at The Poynter Institute)


8:30 a.m. Press room opens at Poynter


8:30 a.m. Exhibitor booths open


9 a.m. Welcome and housekeeping/orientation remarks from Poynter faculty


9:30-10:30 a.m. Keynote session led by Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar, reporting, writing and editing faculty, The Poynter Institute


10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Second keynote session led by Poynter faculty


12:15-1:30 pm Lunch at Poynter
A primer on Tampa vs. Miami Cuban sandwiches paired with sweet plantains and a make-your-own Florida salad. During lunch will be a presentation by the Moré family at La Segunda Bakery in Tampa. This family has been baking Cuban bread for 100 years (the unique bread and salami are what make the Tampa version of the sandwich special). Richard Gonzmart from the Columbia restaurant, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Florida, and Jeff Houck, who writes a Cuban sandwich blog, will round out the discussion.


1:30-2:30 p.m. Panel discussion: Does Florida set a Southern table? A full plate with a side of diversity.


2:30-3:30 p.m. SEO tips in a fast changing online world, how to keep up, and why it's important, led by Poynter faculty


3:45-4:15 p.m. Who's doing diversity well and why it matters in food reporting, faculty TBD


4:30 p.m. Wrap up


5:00 p.m. Press room and exhibitor space closes for conference


6-7 p.m. Awards reception with drinks and appetizers, location TBD


7-9 p.m. And the Winner Is: AFJ Awards Banquet


Friday, September 18


Breakfast on your own or with an AFJ colleague


(Sessions to be held at The Poynter Institute)


8:30-9:45 a.m. Panel discussion: The culinary bounty of the Gulf of Mexico: Five years after the BP Horizon oil spill. Faculty TBD


10-11 a.m. AFJ annual business meeting (for current AFJ members only)


10-11 a.m. Concurrent non-repeated session for bloggers and students TBD (for nonmembers)


11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Lunch


1-2 p.m. Plenary session on digital ethics with Kelly McBride, vice president of academic programs, The Poynter Institute


2:15-3:15 p.m. A conversation about Florida's food past and future with Norman Van Aken, American chef and writer called "the culinary Titan of Florida".


3:30-4:30 p.m. Final observations for the entire group by Poynter coaches


4:30 p.m. Wrap up


7-10 p.m. Post-conference cocktail mixer and food at Ulele in Tampa near historic Ybor City. This restaurant focuses on ingredients from Florida waters and land once home to many Native Americans.


Saturday, September 19


Optional events:


Tour of Home Shopping Network, with celebrity chefs in house.


Tour of Tampa's historic Ybor City
Now known as Tampa's National Historic Landmark District, Ybor City in the 1880s was a melting pot of immigrants from Spain, Cuba, Germany, and Italy and home to some of the world's most famous cigar factories.


AFJ conference hotel: Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown


AFJ's conference headquarters hotel is the Courtyard St. Petersburg Downtown. The room rate is $115/night. You may reserve your hotel rooms for the conference now by calling (727) 450-6200; make sure you mention that you're with the Association of Food Journalists room block.


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