Name: Bren Herrera
Business: House of Bren & author of Modern Pressure Cooking
Location: Washington, D.C.
Specialty: I started out offering Latin fusion cuisine; but over the years it has evolved into global fusion with an emphasis on teaching clients how to use the pressure cooker. I also focus on making flan, a lovely creme caramel custard. I have developed more than 50 recipes for flan, most of which are made in the pressure cooker.
The problem your business solves: I offer my clients tools to save a lot of time and energy when creating memorable experiences through food.
What makes your business unique: I love that I can inspire young and old to fall in love with cooking great meals in significantly less time with modern pressure cookers. Both in my private work for clients or my public work developing recipes for brands, I get to show anyone who’s interested how to maximize time and efficiency while minimizing time spent. I do all of that with a strong emphasis on incorporating trends, ingredients and techniques I’ve learned from other chefs, and utilizing cooking experiences I’ve enjoyed while traveling the world. I’m always telling a story when I’m creating and cooking!
How you got your start: I come from a very typical Afro-Cuban home, where feeding others is the epicenter of our shared existence. In our culture, we feed anyone entering our home. It’s what my Mother did, showed us to do and still does herself. Cooking and breaking bread is vital to a healthy life. I used to work as a corporate paralegal at really large and notable law firms in Washington, D.C. It was common knowledge among the attorneys and my colleagues that I cooked and loved hosting dinner parties. As a result, I was often asked to cook for intimate events. Then the requests for specific recipes started coming in. Though I left corporate and law work altogether, the recipe sharing continued, which inspired the launch of my blog, then called Flanboyant Eats. That humble blog gave me a platform for sharing my passion for cooking, preserving my culture and roots through food, and exploring the world’s culinary history. Little by little, I was invited to appear on different TV shows, cooking alongside notable chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Rick Bayless and others. The blog also continued to grow and bring me work with private clients looking for a different experience. Social media has definitely contributed to the success of the site, now called House of Bren, which eventually led to the Modern Pressure Cooking cookbook and major doors opening, such as being invited to be a regular on the TODAY show and other national and regional shows.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Do your research and stay connected to changing trends and requirements. Fresh content is always the best option for garnering and retaining customers, both on and offline. And, stay on top of craft, i.e. knife skills, making sauces, etc.
What you wish you had known before you started your business: One thing I wish I would have known was how important it is to having a business plan. I went into my work without having a mentor or advisor who could help me navigate the road to success.
Your greatest challenge in your business, and how are you overcoming it: My biggest challenge has been and continues to be doing it all on my own. From research to marketing to producing, editing, creating, etc… I do it all. It’s not easy, and can be extremely tolling. One of the ways I’m learning to overcome it is to simply reach out and ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help. There are people and communities out there that are interested in helping and have something to offer, but we can’t know unless we ask. I’m still learning that it’s okay to ask.
What you’re most proud of about your business: I’m most proud of publishing a cookbook. It’s not a book on Cuban cuisine at all (though there is one chapter dedicated to my Cuban kitchen), but it does pay homage to my Cuban culture through pressure cooking. [The book] was an unexpected project that is presenting me with amazing opportunities to share the joy of cooking and entertaining through food that has inspired me from my world travels.
What’s yummy about being a food entrepreneur: I love having complete creative control and the free lifestyle it offers. I’m a people person, so, naturally, entertaining guests, readers, etc. is my way of showing love and inspiring them to go out and live the life they want.
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