Recap of the GFAF Expo

May 2nd, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I spent the last weekend immersed in the world of gluten- and allergen-free living at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo just outside of Chicago. Cooking classes by day, dinners with my favorite bloggers by night, and lots of conversations and samplings of food in between—it was a fun-filled few days!

I thought I’d share a few photos I snapped during the weekend. They are definitely less than perfect, so my apologies in advance. The lighting in the hotel was not ideal and to make matters worse I used my small point-and-shoot camera so I wouldn’t have to cart my big one along. Anyways, know that we all looked a lot better and less grainy in person!

On Saturday morning, Stephanie O’dea—the queen of the crock pot, a bestselling author, and an absolute delight to spend time with—demonstrated two easy slow-cooker recipes for Carnitas and Country Captain Chicken. Introducing her in the photo above is Carol Fenster, a pioneer in gluten-free cooking and an author herself. I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with Stephanie later in the day and listening in on her conversations with others at the table about slow-cooking and feeding her family.

Later in the day, Cybele Pascal (pictured below)—author of The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook—demonstrated her recipes for Old Fashioned Mac n’ Cheese and Red Velvet Cake. Her Q & A session was impressive. Dozens of questions were thrown her way about allergen-free cooking, and she had an answer for every one.

Sunday morning kicked off with “Blissful Brunch” from Silvana Nardone, author of Cooking for Isaiah and founding editor in chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray. Silvana, pictured below, made Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Donuts and Jalapeno Popper Waffles. Listening to her share about her adventures in cooking gluten-free for her son was heartwarming. A whole lot of love clearly goes into every recipe she develops.  I had the privelege of talking with Silvana here and there throughout the expo about everything from quinoa flakes to what it was like working with Rachael Ray. Her calm manner of speaking and great way with words made each conversation a delight!

Perhaps my favorite class of all was Amy Green’s “Low & No Sugar Gluten-Free Baking.” Amy writes the blog Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free and recently wrote a wonderful cookbook. Although we were already friends through blogging, emailing, and social media, I couldn’t wait to meet Amy in person. She is every bit as kind and warm-hearted as I thought she would be, and her recipes are killer! The cupcakes and blueberry bars we sampled in her class were full of natural sweetness and whole grain flavor.

 Over the weekend I also had the opportunity to meet Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake. I didn’t realize until later that the two adorable kids I saw in the elevator one morning with their dad were Maggie’s. Too cute!

 Meeting Shirley from Gluten Free Easily was a highlight as well. She was the first person I recognized and gave a big to upon arriving at our hotel.You’ll see two other people circled in the far right of photo below. That’s Kelly (The Spunky Coconut) and Alisa (Go Dairy Free and Alisa Cooks). Somehow I never managed to get a picture with them, but we did have plenty of opportunities to chit chat. Both of them are personable and easy going with great sense of humors, just the kind of people who would make perfect neighbors! (Ah, if only…)

All in all, the expo was a blast. Big thanks to Jen Cafferty of Gluten-Free Life with Jen for orchestrating the entire event and being the brains behind it all!


  1. Sounds awesome! Hope I’ll be at the next one to meet you!

  2. Great recap of the event and the fabulous gluten-free women there. Shelby and I loved meeting you and all the other ‘virtual’ friends.

  3. Oh, I’m so glad you did this post, Hallie! I wasn’t able to go to the Expo, so it’s nice to get a photo update of how it all went. I was so sorry I couldn’t make it! Sounds like everyone had a great time.

  4. Hallie, I was so happy to meet you. Your smiling face and kind words were such a delight—- I am honored and humbled by your write-up; thank you.
    I’m so happy you made it home safe and sound. xoxo

  5. Yay, so glad it was a blast. I hope you and some of the other wonderful ladies attend the expo in Dallas this October! I’ll be there, and I think Shirley will be too!

  6. Iris: I hope so too!

    Wendy: It was a pleasure meeting you too, Wendy (and Shelby!).

    Melissa: Yes, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I’m sure there will be lots of other recap posts up with photos (hopefully better than mine!) later this week.

    Stephanie: Thanks so much!

    Alta: I’m keeping Dallas on my radar…we’ll see what happens!

  7. It was a great weekend! I only wish I had had the nerve to sneak into Amy’s class when she was up! :D

  8. Oh my!! You lucky duck! This sounds amazing! I’d love to go to one of these some day…and meet all the people that I read recipes and blog posts from regularly! It would be surreal!

  9. Karen Kraft-Knopff said on May 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Hallie….it was so nice meeting you! Thanks for posting your expo pictures!

  10. Hallie you are one of the nicest people I have ever met and it was so awesome to see all of you at that show!

    I have to comment that seeing you and Stephanie in that picture together – it is like the adorable powerhouse team of ultra-sweetness!!

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.