Bay Area Chef User Group Update - After One Year

It’s been a little more than a year since I stepped up and became one of the organizers of the Bay Area Chef user group, trying to help my good friend Rob Berger as he was getting swamped with work and could not dedicate as much time to this, as he used to in the past. This post is meant to be a quick review on what happened during this time, what worked well and of course some ideas on how we can improve this in the future. I’m also hoping to get feedback from our members on what we can do differently in the future to better serve them and make this an even better group.

One of the first things we’ve done last year was to introduce the Chef Cafes. These are small events (we have a max limit of 10 people set for them) done consistently at the same time (1st and 3rd Thursday of the month) at the best coffee in Mountain View (Red Rock Coffee) with the intent to facilitate the interaction between people, give them a place where they can regularly meet and discuss about chef, ask questions and also try to help other members in the spirit of the open source community. The first Chef Cafe was on March 1st 2012 and it was just me and Rob (we had a good time preparing the future events and just catching up). But after that, we had 16 Chef Cafe’s all year long and many of them had 10 or even more people, and each one of them was unique and special in its own way. We had some, where we had new chef users that had various questions on how to use chef and we tried to help them and resolve their blocks in understanding and getting up to speed with chef. On the other hand we had other cafes where we had really advanced uses that brainstormed about various unresolved problems and what was their take on things like cookbook testing, workflow or orchestration. Overall, I think it was a great success and allowed us to be more connected with members, and also more open and helpful to new chef users.

In 2013 we look forward to your suggestions on how we can improve the Chef Cafes and we will try to keep these going. We hope to be able to move one in San Francisco and keep the other one in the South Bay as we had various requests for that. So if you are in the City and you want to get involved with this please ping me.

One other thing we have tried to do was to bring consistency and have at least one meetup every month with an awesome presentation on some hot topic in the chef community. This ended up being a little too optimistic :(. Still, we had 6 cool meetups with speakers like:

  • Flip Kromer on Ironfan
  • Jim Hopp on Test-Driven Development
  • Jesse Robbins - Hacking culture & Being a force for Awesome
  • Daniel DeLeo on Whyrun mode
  • Nati Shalom on Cloudify

and we also had Aaron Peterson running an introductory Chef Workshop; considering the big and diverse audience I think we have done quite a great job with that.

With the experiences we had last year, we are more confident that this year we will be able to run one meetup every month, but we need your help: we are always looking for great speakers and interesting topics; if you want to present at one of our meetups please let us know; also if you know someone that we should invite to present to a meetup please let us know.

Most of our meetups last year were hosted by Survey Monkey in Palo Alto and we can’t thank them enough for their support (special thanks to Tim Sabat for making them possible). We also had one meetup in San Francisco hosted at Scalr offices (thanks Sebastian). This year, we hope to diversify and run each meetup in a different place to make things more interesting; and hopefully more meetups in the City. If you are interested in hosting and sponsoring one of our future meetups please contact me privately and let me know.

During last year, our group has grown a lot. We started with 132 members in the first day of January 2012 and ended up the year with more than 400 members. This shows that the interest in Chef is obviously growing and hopefully the events we have been organizing are helping grow our local chef community.

If you have any suggestions on what you would like us to do in the future, please let us know. Use the comments bellow, send us a message, whatever works for you; we would love to hear from you and see how we can serve you better. Overall 2012 was great and with your help we can make 2013 even better!

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