27Dinner report-back

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Finally, some time to reflect about the first 27 Dinner (http://27dinner.pbwiki.com) in Durban. There were 27 people present and it was on the 27th of oh-seven, 2007. Isn't that cool?! The dinner attracted a surprisingly diverse group of people. Web design, IT, programming, retail, education, open source, marketing and dentistry were all represented. The evening was hosted by Dave Duarte (http://www.daveduarte.co.za) and Marc Forrest (Durbz Blog, http://durbzblog.blogspot.com) with Graham Knox (Stormhoek, http://www.stormhoek.co.za) and Anice Hassim (Immedia, http://www.immedia.co.za/), and Michael Chadbourne (Mike's Desk, http://www.mikesdesk.za.net/) doing the speaking. Eran Eyal (eSquared, http://esquaredfashion.co.za/durban/) gave away a designer t-shirt voucher in return for some thoughts. There were freebies a plenty, with wine sponsored by Stormhoek, and goodies by (Storm, http://www.storm.co.za) and East Coast Radio.


The dinner was held at Ciao Itallia in Westville. The manager (proprietor?) Leigh is Marc's sister. I'd heard about it before and, to be honest, I was a bit intimitated by the price of a meal there. I didn't have to worry though - the food was excellent and although pricey it was very good value for money. In the end the price didn't matter as the tab was generously picked up by Anice. For starters I had roasted garlic - two huge bulbs served with some bread and melted cheese (I can't remember which kind of cheese). It's been almost three days and my family say I still have garlic breath - tough! I shared it with Linda and Carol (Road less travelled, http://calibar.wordpress.com/) For mains I had a heavenly Alfredo pasta: home-made pasta, fresh mushrooms and smokey ham all in a creamy sauce and topped with parmasan. It was such a generous portion that I couldn't finish it and had it for supper the next evening. Ciao Itallia - go once, eat twice :-)


Drink of the alcoholic grape-juice variety was sponsored by Stormhoek wines. Stormhoek uses blogging as a marketing tool quite successfully. I started following the Stormhoek story a few years ago through their involvement in Barcamps and Geek Dinners. I was quite keen to find out what it tasted like and I can honestly say if they offered it for sale I would have walked away with a couple of bottles, easily. That's actually quite scary, isn't it? I had some white (Sauvignon Blanc I think) and red wine (Shiraz blend) and to me it tastes pretty decent. It should be available through Leigh at Ciao Itallia if anyone is interested.


A large area at the back of the restaurant was converted into a dining hall of sorts. It was separated from the rest of the restaurant by nothing more than an door-arch. We could hear the general din of the restaurant patrons, and I'm sure they could hear us. The speaking could still be done without the use of a P/A system though. Anyone can talk at a 27Dinner. Graham Knox from Stormhoek talked about Stormhoek's successful use of blogging to build their market and build relationships with consumers. Michael Chadbourne used the opportunity to present his idea for a website about maths education. His presentation was well thought out and included some audience participation. Michael, let me know when you're launching the site. For me Anice Hassim's talk was the most interesting of the evening. He talked about how Immedia has leveraged blogging and web technologies to extend their reach to listeners beyond the medium of radio. They are in charge of East Coast Radio and Radio Jakaranda sites. He gave us an interesting glimpse into marketing, and online marketing in particular.


For me the evening was interesting, thought-provoking and inspiring. I really can't wait for the next one.
I was amazed to see such a turnout, based essentially on word of mouth. I wish I had more time to talk to everyone about the presentations. Here's to more eating, drinking and thinking next month!

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