Chef Bren Herrera – Cooking Up Awesomeness
By Mary Maxey
October 24, 2019
Life is full of wonders that entice you to stay a little longer—standing up for what you believe in offers you meaning in life and allows you to make your presence felt and known all across the world. Chef Bren Herrera is a dynamic bilingual, award-winning celebrity chef, TV personality, spokeswoman, and host. Today, Chef Bren shares her struggles, how she took the risk of following her heart’s desire, and how she dedicates her presence as a beacon for those who don’t have a voice.[01:58] Why should I listen to you?
Because I’m a wacky, entertaining person. I lived by the #liveandlove slogan. You act in love when you live and love yourself. I’m a social butterfly because I find myself talking to people who don’t want to be bothered. It’s always a pleasure for me to make folks happy.[03:02] Many years ago, a buddy of mine taught me the platinum rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s always about getting to know the person you’re spending time with and then pouring yourself into them, whether it’s a stranger like you at a coffee shop, restaurant, or anywhere, my goal is to make you feel like you’re the only person in the room.[04:28] How did the foundation of the heart come about?
I believe I spent a few years purposefully going into myself, attempting to unpack why I chose that path. You take stock of your life about who you are, and you understand what has transpired in your life to bring you to this point. I grew up in a family environment that was highly attentive to only the needs, and the primary wants that humans have.[06:19] Simply being exposed to and reared in an environment where my parents continually reminded us not to waste food because others are hungry. Now that I’m an adult, I’m in charge of my own life, and I take those issues seriously because I’ve recognized that not everyone can afford the same things.[07:08] I’m a classic empath, and I sometimes wish I wasn’t an empath because it’s exhausting. Everyone plays a role in the world, and I’ve accepted and owned that that’s just who I am, and that’s fine.[15:31] What deterred you from making choices?
I was always self-assured and understood what I wanted as a child. For example, I adored Whitney Houston, and I used to think to myself, “One day, I’m going to be a singer performing on stage.” I adored the way she made me feel. I was insanely motivated. But I didn’t always outperform my peers. So, when I made that decision, I had no finances, and I had no idea where I would go physically. Work-wise, you’re not going to stay in DC because DC was already pricey at the time.[19:11] I started organizing this charity event in Atlanta to benefit the AIDS community there, and it stems from the pro bono work I did in DC when I went to speak. That charity event, dubbed Creative Cause, brought together many creative people for a good cause.[21:32] I lacked the necessary infrastructure. I decided to let life take its course. I didn’t have that advice, and I take full responsibility for it. I didn’t realize I should have gone to someone.[25:05] What was the turning point that led you to this path?
Everyone who had something to say and wanted to share it got a blog because it was new. I believe Blogspot was one of the original platforms. People were looking for recipes, and therefore food blogs were becoming extremely popular. They also wanted to use food to connect with family and friends. And it made sense to me because I could continue to share these fascinating cultural stories through cuisine while also introducing people to new foods. I began writing about travel approximately a year and a half before starting the food blog. As a result, I incorporated all of my trip experiences into my culinary blog.[27:00] Blogging wasn’t sustainable. You had to monetize it for it to make sense. And I was seeing and finding that many bloggers had full-time jobs. Thus, blogging was their side hustle that made a few coins off here and there. But I was so determined not to go back to work. I was pressed to make this work. I was doing private events, catering, and writing for some fancy glossy travel magazines. I used to do some food columns for different magazines online.[30:24] What do you create that pushes yourself and keeps moving?
In 2012, I returned to DC. Because I was done with that land, I felt like I had tapped out. I had done everything I was going to do, and my music career did not pan out the way I had hoped. Rock Nation approached me twice, offering me the position of a private chef for one of their best players for the Yankees, as well as one of Nike’s top athletes. I discussed it with my team and lawyer, and we discussed the deal. I didn’t like it because the money wasn’t quite right. A family friend who’s a big name in the boxing world told me, “You should have taken the job, Sis. Because although that job didn’t pay you for what you’re worth, it might have opened so many possibilities for you.”[40:15] Were there thoughts of going back to Law?
When I talk to my friends about the challenges I’ve faced, I mention how there hasn’t been an infrastructure for me to go to law school and how I had gone down that path or returned to it. That infrastructure would have made it so much easier for me. I would have been able to gather the money and resources I now have and am only beginning to do a tiny bit with, but my heart wasn’t in it every time I’ve considered returning to law school.[42:27] I don’t always choose the easiest path. There isn’t a plan, and there isn’t a schedule. I have quarterly and annual goals. Every day is different, and I don’t report to anyone. It’s challenging because you have to be disciplined and devoted to your art, and you have to make it work.[46:02] If you can impart a message that can carry my life in a great direction, what will you tell me?
When you say “Yes,” everything changes. It alters your thinking, movement, response, and it alters your self-esteem and ability to be present for others. To me, it’s critical to just be in tranquil places and areas and thrive in peaceful locations. Therefore, if a scenario does not result in peace or does not thrive in peace, I am saying yes, I desire peace. And I shall extricate myself from that circumstance.[47:16] There is a great deal of power in saying “Yes,” and “No,” and in being able to say, “No, I am not going to do that.” Many people are “people-pleasers,” and they are conflicted about this. However, there is tremendous power in saying “Yes” to yourself.
[51:01] What promise did God make to the world when he created you?
That I would be a loyal servant with a servant’s heart. I still have the impression that we’re always fighting, that we’re constantly struggling to be seen, heard, appreciated, and cherished. But you and I are tremendously fortunate because we get to do what we love and share our talents. But there are a lot of people who don’t have it because they simply don’t have it. As a result, I was born to serve. And I eventually embraced it because, while it isn’t a burden, it is certainly weighty. It’s difficult because you wake up thinking, “How can I serve others today?”
Key Quotes:[07:22 – 07:30] “The world needs all kinds of people for it to work. Everyone plays a role, and I have owned and accepted that that’s who I am.”[39:21 – 39:30] “The stories and the way I present myself organically and intrinsically represents me. That’s who I am.”
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