Her resume must read like a book: culinary and entertainment writer; chef; Latin soul singer; boutique owner, and founder of a charity organization. Gifted with a myriad of talents, Bren Herrera is all about sewing seeds and reaping the benefits of self-gratitude. After going one-on-one with the quarter-life crisis phenomenon, Herrera took inventory of her life and started living out her dreams. She sits down with Clutch to dish (pun intended) about cooking with Emeril Lagasse, her music, why she “diversifies her portfolio,” and how she balances it all.
Clutch: In our eyes, you’re definitely considered a jill-of-all-trades, so can you share with us some of the things you’re really passionate about?
Bren Herrera:I’m definitely passionate about a lot of things, but music is my number one. I eat and sleep music. However, it doesn’t really pay the bills. Not yet anyway! I’d have to say that cooking is second. Entertaining people is just what I love to do, whether it’s singing on stage or serving up an incredible dish.
Clutch: With all that you do, has anyone ever tried to convince you to focus on just one thing?
Bren Herrera: Sigh. This goes with the jill-of-all-trades thing. Yes, many have tried to tell me that, but I look at it this way: if you talk to a financial analyst, they’ll recommend that you diversify your portfolio, right? That means thinking outside the box and investing in other markets. I’m a creative person with a lot of drive. The beauty of what I do is that all of my projects and passions blend seamlessly. When you got to eat, it’s typically coupled with good music. I’ll also, give you a good example of phenomenal women who have multiple entries in their portfolio: Oprah, BeyoncÃ©, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Tyra Banks. These women think outside the box, they saw the opportunity for growth and they ultimately diversified. All are successful and not one of them “focuses” on one single thing.
Clutch: Why do you feel like so many women of color are venturing out and pursuing entrepreneurship?
Bren Herrera: It’s not an independence thing as many would think. It’s more a self-worth and self-value thing. In the corporate world, women statistically make less than men, even bearing the same credentials. I think we want to show ourselves and our children to come that we too can make BIG things happen and not just conform to the stereotype of being stay-at-home moms, secretary’s, etc… Ultimately, for me it’s a question of individuality. What I do for me is who I am. I work hard for myself, not for someone else who wants to tell me when I can take vacation.
Clutch: At any point, do you feel like you went through the quarter-life crisis? If so, how did you deal with it?
Bren Herrera: Yes! Oh my goodness, when I turned 25 to be exact. I was like “what am I doing and who are my real friends and supporters?” I went through my phonebook and deleted a lot of names. I felt if you weren’t adding anything positive to my life, then you had no place in it. Every now and then I’ll do a “ratings sweep.” Meaning, if you’re not consistently tuning in, you’re cut from programming! I also listened to my heart. I quit my full-time job and started realizing my dreams.
Clutch: Can you tell us about the exciting opportunity you recently had to cook with super chef Emeril Lagasse?
Bren Herrera: He’s got this new show on Discovery Network called “Emeril Green,” premiering on Planet Green. I auditioned for it in D.C. and got cast two weeks later! So we taped in VA, where I’m from, and I got to cook a traditional Cuban meal with him. He was wonderful. A great guy and he really does know his stuff. It was an honor, given that I’m relatively new to the professional world of food and cooking. I still won’t believe it until I see myself on the tube! By the way, it appears on July 14th at 9 p.m.
Clutch: How long have you been cooking and what is your favorite dish to prepare?
Bren Herrera: I’ve been cooking since I was seven — I even have a small scar on my right leg from a hotdog burn! Cuban food is my forte and favorite cuisine, naturally. If I had to claim a favorite dish, I’d say it’s my moms split green pea soup, plantains and oxtail. I love plantains! Have you ever had them curried? Wow. And then of course I love to create new dishes. I’ll play around with spices, flavors and textures.
Clutch: What is Flanboyant Eats?
Bren Herrera: Flanboyant Eats is my outlet for being creative with food. I have private celebrity clients I cook for in their homes as well as cater for small companies and intimate private events. I have a staff, of course. I recently started the blog with the same name, where I share recipes and tips on cooking, especially for the young single ladies that may be intimidated by the kitchen. The name is a play on the definition of *flamboyant* and the traditional Latin dessert, flan.
Clutch: As a Latin soul/R&B artist, can you share your musical influences with us?
Bren Herrera: I grew up singing in church and playing the cello. Gospel and classical music has definitely influenced my sound, but Latin rhythm is what really drives my music. My parents introduced me to wonderful music from all over the world and so I’m not limited to just one style. The tone is sultry, the rhythm will make you shake your hips and the message is one of resilience. Marvin Gaye, Carly Simon, The Beatles, Chicago, and Nina Simone play a role in my study.
Clutch: Ultimately, what is your vision as it relates to your two loves, music and cooking?
Bren Herrera: My own show on TV! I’m developing the novel concept that involves the two. It’s pretty funky and definitely different. And more importantly, I want to expose and do something about world hunger- no one should be starving. I can sing to raise money and I can cook to donate. I just want to be a voice for the underprivileged.
Clutch: You really are an inspiration for people with have many talents who enjoy honing all of them; can you tell us how you balance all that you do?
Bren Herrera: I don’t know really! I wonder myself sometimes. I pray and ask for guidance; to stay focused on my calling. At the end of the day I genuinely believe in myself. That keeps me pushing.
Clutch: As a culinary writer, you get to do your fair share of traveling. Do you have a favorite place that you’ve traveled to so far?
Bren Herrera: Yes, I just came back from Barbados and I loved it. The food, the people, the beaches! But there’s nothing like France — I could live there.
Clutch: Can you tell us about CreativeCause?
Bren Herrera: I am an artist, I create and I have cause. I was thinking of a way to combine the two, so I founded CreativeCause (CC): The Designer & Artist Event. The purpose of CC is to promote high art, high design and high music all while raising money for a worthy charity. I saw a major need for local artists and designers to get their original work seen and I wanted to establish a platform by which to do it. Wanting to raise money was a no-brainer. All in all, it’s a fabulous evening of live entertainment, food, a haute couture fashion show, silent auction, and lots of artists and designers showcasing their work.
Clutch: As a reseller of everything unique, fabulous and vintage for your boutique, “B So Chic”! What are some key vintage pieces to have?
Bren Herrera: You must have a solid vintage bag- Koret is a great designer. Their bags were all made in Italy and the quality is top notch. Also, a pair of fabulous earrings that will glam up even the most basic outfit, a fur, a hat, and dainty watch.
Clutch: When you’re carrying around your 50’s vintage clutch purse, what are we likely to find in it?
Bren Herrera: My BlackBerry, Kiel’s hand balm, a credit card, business cards, a great pen, and Lumene lipgloss in “Berryfun.”