The picnic tables were filled early at Gotts Roadside in St. Helena on Saturday, Dec. 30 as a group of dedicated, self-described “foodies” gathered at 10 a.m. in a “meet up” with food-blogger and @nocrumbsleft social media superstar Teri Turner. The event was orchestrated and sponsored by the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce.

The goal of the meet up was a digital savvy way to bring business to Main Street to help support our shops and nearly 40 people – from as far away as St. Louis and San Diego descended in the early morning cold to hear Turner talk about her experiences with becoming a celebrity in the social media realm.

Turner who lives in Chicago said that when friends started asking her for her recipes, some also wondered why she hadn’t started a blog.

“I began this (@nocrumbsleft Instagram site) just three years ago,” Turner said.

“At first I didn’t want to do that. I resisted,” she recalled. “But my kids encouraged me. Now it’s about sharing my love and excitement about cooking.”

Turner, whose blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram postings today has a loyal base of readers, said her following is nearly 700,000 foodies. But the heart the story she told at the meet up was her love of food and how it binds people together. And her success with social media has now created opportunities for her to travel the world to meet chefs, to create projects, to attend meet ups and industry-sponsored food events.

But the heart of the meet up for Turner’s followers was the opportunity to ask her questions about cooking.

“Do you use an Instant Pot?” one woman asked.

No, said Turner. “I know a lot of chefs who do. Or some sort of hot pot. But I don’t use one in our kitchen. I prefer to slow cook on the burner and I think the perfect gift for anyone is a good Dutch oven.”

Turner attributed her success as a food blogger to the busy lifestyle of people today. “Many people – especially younger people – don’t have any real experience in the kitchen. They don’t know what to do, and they just don’t have the time. So the Instagram blog lets them ‘see’ what’s possible, and the recipes let me share my excitement about cooking.”

Joy Shahbaz was one of Turner’s followers, who had come up with her boyfriend Mauro Colabianchi for a family holiday visit to Petaluma. An hour’s trip to St. Helena to meet up with Turner was something they had planned together. As they huddled under the heaters in the food-pickup area of Gotts, Shahbaz’s excitement at the meet up seemed to be echoed by others in the group.

“I started following Teri a while back, and when I heard there would be a meet up in St. Helena while we were up here, I thought it would be fun to come.”

Shahbaz said she’d never been to St. Helena before, though Colabianchi said that growing up in Petaluma he’d passed through several times. “It looks like a wonderful town,” Shahbaz said. Asked if they would be shopping after the meet up, she said, “Definitely.”

Snacks had been provided by Gotts Roadside, and there were plenty of giveaways at the Chamber’s event. Marcus Marquez, general manager of Brasswood Estate, signed copies of his book “100 Things to Do in the Napa Valley Before You Die.” Another popular book, “A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery” by Kathryn and Craig Hall was provided by the Chamber.

At the end of the meet up, the group was organized to hold up cards to spell out “No Crumbs Left. Let’s go!” for a boomerang gif that was to be used on the @nocrumbsleft social media site. Then it was off for a tour down Main Street’s shops as the group engaged their cellphones to document their end-of-the-year 2017 experience in St. Helena.

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Reporter

Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.