Interview with Bren Herrera

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I have to admit that I am a little biased in liking Bren. We have lots of stuff in common. We were both born in warm Latin climates and brought to the US by our parents, love to cook and of course, we love to eat. It’s no surprise her blog, Flanboyant Eats, made the list of the top Food Blogs of 2011. If you have not had the chance to read Bren’s musings, take a few minutes to check out Flanboyant Eats. In the mean get to know her a little better, we recently chatted up with Bren to find out more about her and her love of food.

FriendsEAT:  Where did you grow up Bren?

Bren Herrera:  When we left Havana, we went to Miami for 7 years. We then made our home right outside of D.C.

FE:  As a fellow Latina (I was born in Colombia), I know that my love of cooking came from my mom and my abuela; was it the same thing for you?

BH:  Yes! It’s a classic story. Mami and abuela started cooking early in the morning for the day. I’d mirror mami a lot and she’d let me do certain things. I eventually started making her recipes and perfecting them.

FE:  What was the most important thing they taught you for the kitchen and in life?

BH: In retrospect, I hated how I had to eat everything on my plate. I didn’t understand it. What kid wants to eat beets, radishes and broccoli for dinner. I was repulsed and loathed having those things for dinner. But my parent’s always insisted on eating everything. As an adult now, and one that cooks for a living, I understand the importance of respecting food and not wasting anything. I’m an advocate for child hunger and realize that eating everything on my plate is a way of acknowledging that there are millions that don’t have the chance to eat the way I do. Mami also taught me to share everything. From the minute a friend enters our home, we offer them something. The minute they leave, we offer them something. It’s possible that’s it’s cultural, but sharing a bit of what we have in our kitchen is a great feeling. And on a more practical level….great knives… you must have great knives!

FE: Why did you decide to start Flanboyant Eats?

BH: I wanted to document my experiences in the kitchen and traveling. Those two things make up my life for the most part and so many of my friends always want to know what this or that is like. I thought starting the blog would be a great platform to visually share those things. For me, I also wanted a reference where I could go to and look back and learn from the very things that I shared. I can look at a recipe I published 3 years ago and say “hmmm, let’s tweak this” or “wow, I thought of that?” It’s a great tool for reflection which nurtures growth.

FE:  What is a typical day in your life like?

BH:  My morning always starts with a triple shot of espresso. Sometimes with milk (café con leche) sometimes with evaporated milk (cortadito). I never do breakfast unless there’s a meeting involved, but I try to avoid those. I’m bad about eating breakfast. After my espresso, I hit the floor for 30 minutes and do leg, ab and arm workouts… Gets me going. And then my day gets going. Emails, phone calls, writing articles, blog posts, weekly columns, cooking, test cooking, reading cookbooks and reference books. I’ll squeeze in some time for retail therapy at least once a week. Could be fashion therapy or kitchen therapy!

FE: What did your childhood kitchen look like?

BH: Lots of fruit, juice makers, peanut butter, bread, Cuban coffee, 2 pressure cookers, Little Debbie snacks, daily pot of beans and rice and a lot of love!

FE:  What does your kitchen look like now?

BH:  8 pressure cookers, 9 espresso makers, 3 jars of Cuban espresso and about 50 containers of spices and herbs from around the world and a lot of love!

FE:  If you had to pick one; which would you choose: bacon or chocolate?

BH: Chocolate.

FE:  What is your favorite restaurant and why?

BH:  Good question. I don’t have one. Though if someone were to pay me to answer this and force me to choose, I’d have to say Joel Robuchon. Any one of his restaurants. I had the pleasure of eating with him in his NY Atelier inside The Four Seasons. His kitchen etiquette is unparalleled. And the food? Well, you’d have to have it to understand. It’s refined culinary artwork with a lot of passion, dedication and intricacy.

FE: What is your favorite ingredient?

BH: Garlic and cumin!

FE: How do you feel about Foodtertainment?

BH: Not really into it. I do enjoy shows like Top Chef, Just Desserts, No Reservations and Iron Chef. You can learn quite a bit from those shows. Other than that, I’m not really into reality food shows. So much of if is staged and not realistic.

FE: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

BH: Host of several tv shows including food and lifestyle, a plethora of cookbooks, own line of cookware, food, and shoes… and maybe my own restaurant. Still debating whether I want to get into that business. There’s a market for gourmet Cuban cuisine that no one’s tapped into, so I’ve toyed with it. It’s just a matter of time and positioning myself.

FE: What tips do you have for someone who’s thinking about starting a food blog?

BH: An evergreen name that represents you, your flavor and your style. A great logo that stands out and relevant content. And of course, investing in a great camera will make all the difference. Pictures are important in food blogging.

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Blanca Valbuena
I am one of the co-founders of FriendsEAT. Obviously, I love to eat. Other passions include A Song of Ice and Fire, Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, and Aldous Huxley.
Blanca Valbuena
Blanca Valbuena

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