2021 IFWTWA Conference

November 8-11 • St. Petersburg, FL

We’re FLORIDA Bound!

Join us for the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association Annual Conference!

Keynote Speaker

André Darlington, author of Booze Cruise: A Tour of the World’s Most Essential Mixed Drinks and Gotham City Cocktails: Official Handcrafted Food & Drink From the World of Batman.


Choose from a series of six professional development sessions to advance writing and photography skills.

Culinary Panel

Andy Harris will once again treat our senses with a diverse panel of experts from the Tampa Bay area.

November 8-11, 2021

Hyatt Place St. Petersburg
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

$299 Member Registration
$349 for Non-Members/Guests

Early Bird Registration Starts June 1, 2021
(10% Discount June 1-July 31, 2021)

Conference Hotel

Call for reservations | $149 per night plus taxes

Hyatt Place Downtown St. Petersburg
25 2nd St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 220-0950

A limited number of rooms will be blocked for November 5-7 and 11-13 for conference participants wishing to book an extended stay in St. Petersburg. If the block is sold out at registration, contact Jackie Seneca at (727) 220-0965 or email Jackie and she will assist with booking additional days.

Keynote Speaker

André Darlington is a journalist, consultant, and best-selling author. He is best known for his drinks writing, including five cocktail books.

With his sister Tenaya, Darlington published three books during 2016-18: The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks (2016); Movie Night Menus: Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by the Films We Love (with Turner Classic Movies—2016); and Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks (2018). An ancillary game from Booze & Vinyl is forthcoming.

Darlington’s fourth book, Booze Cruise: A Tour of the World’s Essential Mixed Drinks, was released May 4, 2021. For the project, he completed a circumnavigation of the globe in early 2020. The book debuted on Amazon.com as an Editor’s Pick and the #1 New Release in its category. Gotham City Cocktails, written for DC Comics/Warner Bros, was released May 18, 2021.

Darlington’s suite of books will be available for purchase during the IFWTWA conference Vendor Marketplace. He will sign books (and provide author plates for post-conference purchases).


Participants will choose three of these six workshops:

  1. Creating Engaging Destination Videos- Scott Kendall
    Video engages more readers, whether it’s for your publication or one you’re submitting to. It’s hot and in demand!
  2. Mastering SEO- Expert Advice for the Blogger and Freelancer- Kristi Dosh
    Knowing the ins and outs of SEO is crucial to today’s blogger and freelance writer.
  3. Upping Your Food Writing Game– Speaker TBD
    We all love to eat…and food writing is fun. A few tricks of the trade will take you to the next level.
  4. Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Reels- Kat Anderson
    Instagram is still top dog in the social media game! Reels are the latest and greatest way to engage followers.
  5. Landing the Very Best Press Trips- Noreen Kompanik
    One of the best benefits of travel writing. We’ll learn insider techniques of landing those all-inclusive media trips.
  6. Perfecting Your Pitch to Grab an Editor’s Attention- Pam & Gary Baker
    Relevant, timely, and well-crafted pitches are keys to grabbing an editor’s attention. We’ll show you ways to improve your pitching game.

Culinary Panel

“Unwrapping The Food Scene in the Greater St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Region”
Curated by Andy Harris, Executive Producer & Co-Host of the “SoCal Restaurant Show” heard weekly in Southern California on AM 830 KLAA radio.

An esteemed culinary panel of informed and civic-minded local chefs, restaurateurs, fishermen, and farmers will reveal the dynamic local food scene in the Tampa Bay region, and provide the overview of how they successfully navigated the pandemic.

Prominent restaurateur Ed Chiles (son of former Florida Governor, Lawton Chiles) will be a participant. A native Floridian, Ed is the proprietor of three waterfront restaurants serving fresh Florida seafood and organic and locally sourced vegetables, and also owns an organic farm serving his establishments.

Also confirmed is Dr. BBQ (Ray Lampe), a local celebrity who is also known nationally on the competitive BBQ circuit. He is a pitmaster, author of four books, and a television personality. Lampe has been a judge in several television cooking programs including the World Food Championships, Tailgate Warriors With Guy Fieri, and American Grilled. As a contestant, he competed on the Food Network‘s Chopped.

Tampa native Chef Rachel Bennett is the executive chef and general manager of The Library Restaurant, a position she has held since 2018. A graduate of the Hillsborough Community College culinary program, Bennett has worked in various Tampa Bay area restaurants, including The Library’s sister restaurant Oxford Exchange. She has won numerous awards, been featured in many publications, and competed on “Guy’s Grocery Games” on Food Network.


Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons (11/9 and 11/10) are reserved for visits to local attractions, self-guided tours of various arts and culinary attractions, and/or free time to explore St. Petersburg. The entire city is a giant attraction, at times described as a “free theme park.”

Museum and other ticketed visits may include: Museum of Fine Arts, The Dali Museum, Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center, Imagine Museum: Contemporary Glass Art, James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, Sunken Gardens, the Florida Holocaust Museum, and much more.

Self-guided tours may include: St. Petersburg Pier, Central Avenue Arts District and Murals, Craft Breweries, and Wine Bars. Guided walking tours are under construction.

Special Features

Opening Reception

Welcome to St. Petersburg at the Hyatt Place Hotel! From 6:00 – 8:00 pm we will gather on the 5th floor of the hotel overlooking downtown St. Pete for drinks and appetizers. We are creating a signature cocktail for the conference thanks to our keynote speaker, André Darlington.

St. Petersburg Restaurant Dine-Arounds | Tuesday, November 9

Curated by Kathy Merchant, Priscilla Willis, and Chris Cutler

One of St. Petersburg’s many compelling features is robust, chef-driven dining scene. Many restaurants are located within walking distance of the conference hotel. Conference participants will select a restaurant and dine “dutch treat” at 6:30 pm at a table of 8-10 fellow writers. Participating restaurants across multiple types of cuisine, to be confirmed Summer 2021, may include: 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, Cassis, Fresco’s Waterfront, Gratzzi Italian Grille, The Mill, Oak + Stone, Parkshore Grill, Red Mesa Cantina, Renzo’s, and Stillwaters Tavern. Restaurants will provide a complimentary cocktail, appetizer, or dessert. Owners and/or chefs will be on hand to greet the group and share the story of his/her restaurant.

“Taste of St. Pete” | Wednesday, November 10

Each IFWTWA member who registers for the conference can request two CityPASS mobile passes with free admission (for 2 people) to Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and Museum of Science & Industry OR The Tropics Boat Tours Dolphin or Sunset Cruise). Tickets are courtesy of Deborah Wakefield with CityPASS.

Pre and Post Conference Media Trips

Developed by Barbara Redding, Linda Milks, and Jeanine Consoli


Orlando, November 6-8

While its world famous theme parks are what make Orlando stand out, dining has also become widely recognized as a must-do throughout the destination. Media will experience Orlando’s diverse dining scene, which includes a variety of restaurants with distinguished chefs from around the world. Participants will also explore eclectic neighborhood eats and outdoor activities.

Punta Gorda / Englewood Beach, November 6-8

Punta Gorda / Englewood Beach is a relaxed coastal destination where the locals like to say “our best side is outside.” This undiscovered beach town leaves plenty of room to roam through miles of white sand beaches surrounding a vibrant community of open-air restaurants and shops. It’s never been easier to reconnect with traveling through a “Pure Florida” experience. As part of the VIO (Very Important Outsider) experience you may paddle through Stump Pass Beach Park, tour the Gulf Coast on a private catamaran, soak up the sunset while sipping craft cocktails, dine on Caribbean cuisine with a Southern flair, and much more.


Sarasota, November 11-12

Up to eight journalists will be picked up in St. Petersburg at the Hyatt Place hotel the morning of November 11 for the drive to Sarasota. The focus of this press trip will be the diverse dining scene in downtown Sarasota. Participants will stay at the downtown Aloft Hotel, and will return to St. Petersburg after lunch on November 12.

Tampa, November 11-13

Tampa Bay is home to incredible adventures, world-class chefs, and great weather! Your “Treasures of Tampa Bay” journey starts in historic Ybor City. Experience the oldest restaurant in Florida, Columbia Restaurant, and taste the flavors of Cuba and Spain. In the Channel District, taste the innovative flavors of Michelin Star Chef Joe Isidori at JOTORO. Take in the view along the Tampa Riverwalk to the Heights Public Market in Armature Works where you can choose from 18 dining options and shop local goods. Dine at Ulele restaurant while taking in the sunset. Discover Tampa Bay’s top attractions such as Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park, and Hyde Park Village for boutique shopping and dining in restaurants such as Meat Market Tampa or historic Goody Goody.

(Preliminary) Sponsors / Exhibitors

Vendor Marketplace | Wednesday, November 10

Developed by Scott Kendall, M'Liss Hinshaw, Deirdre Michalski, Sharon Kurtz, Mary Farah, Cori Solomon, Kathy Merchant

Media Trip Sponsors