Bren Herrera is a multifaceted artist working in the culinary, fashion and music industries. In 2005 she launched B So Chic!, an online boutique retailing designer and vintage apparel for women. Through her fashion endeavors, Bren has produced fashion shows, established a client base, which she styles and consults with and has been featured in print publications for her street style, including Essence.
Bren was classically trained in vocals and cello and has performed live throughout the U.S. and has toured Europe singing gospel, R & B and jazz music. As the owner and editor of Flanboyant Eats™, her award-winning culinary blog documenting her Afro-Latina experience as a private chef and food writer, she cooks up Cuban, Latin fusion and global cuisine.
Her passionate cooking and constant sharing of recipes and travel stories led to the creation of the blog, which in turn has landed her TV gigs and additional food writing work. Bren currently writes for Cuisine Noir, NBC Latino and other online and print publications, covering haute lifestyle. Most exciting at the moment, Bren is the host of ‘Dine Out,’ a dining and travel online show, which highlights Bren’s natural ability to cook on a whim and feature the hottest in cuisine and dining in NY, DC, LA and Atlanta. She has also appeared with Emeril Lagasse on the Discovery Network, had a regular spot on NBC’s “Daytime” morning show and has cooked live on CNN en Español among other notable networks and programs. Bren has been featured in The Washington Post, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Black Enterprise, LATINA Magazine, Essence Magazine, ABC, CNN, NBC and other national outlets. She lives in Atlanta, GA and Washington, D.C.
“I didn’t study at a Culinary Institute; I simply love to cook and have been doing it for a looooong time. I’m convinced that sometimes, home training is the best one can receive,” Bren
When did you start blogging? I started blogging about food in January 2008. I had already been blogging about fashion and travel since 2006.
Why did you start blogging? The travel and fashion blog were all extensions of my life at the time, which was fully consumed by travel writing and fashion events I was producing and hosting. I just moved to Atlanta and started a completely new life for myself so I wanted to document the change and new direction I was going in. Flanboyant Eats, my culinary blog, started by accident, kind of. I had to do it. I was invited to cook on Fox’s “Good Day Atlanta” on Jan. 1, 2008 and had no online presence relating to my relatively new business as a private chef. In a matter of hours from receiving that invite to cook on air, I came up with the name, bought the domain and put a splash page up. It didn’t go live for another 5 days or so.
Since then, it naturally evolved into a really colorful platform where I share all of my culinary, social, lifestyle, business and travel excursions as they relate to food! Initially I only wanted it to be something casual where I posted recipes I was making at home and for clients. But, I love where it’s grown and what it’s done for my readers and my own sense of knowledge. I go back and read posts and say “oh wow, I was cooking like that then?” or “I can’t even believe I used that ingredient in that dish.” Most times I just laugh and take the growth in stride. Now I blog to curate my entire life. I want to be able to go back 20 years from now and analyze how I write, how I cook, how I tell stories and how I impacted and inspired those that read it.
Do you any have advice for beginner bloggers? Plenty! Align yourself with a more seasoned blogger and have them mentor you. I didn’t have them when I started any of my blogs but sure wish I would have. I don’t mind having done it all alone, but with the advent of social media and the broad wealth of information and resources on the web, I could have worked smarter, not harder. Also, don’t be afraid to ask. The worst that could happen is getting a “no” for a response. You have to keep grinding if that’s the case. There are a lot of people that are willing to help. We all need it. I’ve given plenty of free advice to new and younger bloggers and it’s great to see them flourish. I’d also encourage being consistent with everything that you do. Create a brand (if that’s what you’re aiming for) that’s appealing, solid, meaningful, has purpose, has potential to be evergreen and is attractive. Your content has to fresh, genuine, consistent and engaging. You can lose an audience very fast. And finally, write about what you love, not just what’s hot. If you love something, you’ll write with passion and affection. That will translate into your posts and your readers will see the difference in your voice.
What tips can you share on attracting new readers to your blog? This has changed a lot for me in the last 3 years. At first it was a lot of blog hopping and commenting on other blogs. I still do that, but I got over the whole comment thing. I was so hung up on it that I didn’t focus on really getting the blog out there. It did and still does help and is important. But, for me now, the key thing is to engage online on all social media platforms. When I engage with people online, they generally take an interest in what you do, even if it’s not in the same genre. I share new posts on about 5 different outlets. All of those bring new readers to my blog. For new bloggers, I’d encourage guest writing on bigger blogs. It helps getting others to know your name and work!
What is you photography style process? Ahhhh. This is a tough one. I don’t have a specific approach. I have a Nikon D5000. Trying to upgrade at the beginning of the year. I have a few lenses and only use natural light. Again, it wasn’t always like that. But, as for styling my dishes, I look for vintage remnant pieces to juxtapose with modern, clean patterns. It tells you a lot about my personality. And it all really depends on how much time I have to get fancy and detailed. Sometimes, I just plate, add a few accessories and shoot. I try to shoot outside as much as possible because of the lovely colors, textures and backgrounds I can incorporate. I always try to tie in the background setting to the actual dish. With me, everything is about telling a story. I’m a storyteller. I hope for my pictures to tell you something because I realize not everyone is reading everything I write.
What inspires your posts, what flavors do you love? My entire life inspires me…my conversations with friends, colleagues, clients, family, etc.. they all have something so fun and thought-provoking to share and that translates into colorful menu designing in my kitchen and eventually a creative post. I’m always inspired by the seasons and my antojos — those things I crave and can whip up in a quickie. I love bold, savory flavors with aromas the most. Ingredients like cloves, anise, honey, sage, garlic and fennel really do it for my senses. They make my meals taste so much better because I’m not just tasting, I’m smelling as well. I can’t however, finish a meal without dessert. It’s part of my routine. My palate is totally off balance if I don’t complete it with a sweet course! And espresso, no doubt!
What have you learned from blogging? That people can fade fast! There are too many blogs out there with great content so if you don’t keep up and switch things up to keep yours fresh and relevant, you’ll become passé. It’s a fickle space. I’ve also learned that there are amazing people out in the world that care about what you do and have a genuine interest in supporting you and your effort. I have met some of the most incredible people, few that I call friends, through blogging. And finally, that it’s work. It’s not just journaling your thoughts on the web. It takes, time, money, energy, resources, patience, etc… to make it happen. Blogging is a real job. At least in my case. I don’t have days off.
What are your goals for the future? In the immediate future, I’m working on wrapping up some pitches for my own network show. I currently have a dining and travel show on a new online, on-demand network for women called “Chic Rebellion. My show, ‘Dine Out’ allows me to do almost everything I love. I also want to finish this cookbook I’ve been working on for 3 years. I put it to rest for a while but I’m ready to get back with an agent. Eventually, I want to do that and more on network. I eventually want to open up a multidimensional restaurant group. And a shoe line, of course!
Be sure to follow Flanboyant Eats on her Culinary Journey:
Image Source ~ Flanboyant Eats