You’re Going To Australia, You’re Going To Australia & You’re Going To Australia! But, I Really Am Going!

I never thought I’d stand in front of a crowd and channel my inner Oprah…. not the journalist or great interviewer Oprah. Rather, that uber generous, has it all, mother to all single ladies and  ‘I’ll give you my unborn child and all their material things‘ Oprah. But, I did this past Tuesday night in New York.

And it was so classic.

I think I established in the very toddler days of Flanboyant Eats that I live a pretty amazing and solidly blessed life. I get to experience some incredible moments and am always given an opportunity to become better at what I do; to see the world, taste stupendous creations by somewhat unapproachable culinary geniuses; and capture images that inspire me daily. But, it doesn’t just happen, friends. I never talk about the hard, tear-jerking grind I put into my work. I subtly touched in my Nutrilite post a few back that I’ve suffered from anxiety and can now talk about it very candidly. It’s that intense around Casa Herrera. I am passionate about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I do. To a fault.

It makes for a happy, loving, vibrant and deliciously beautiful life.

I intended for 2013 to start super slow, affording me some time to regroup and focus on some pending projects I put into motion mid-2012. But, the lingering production schedule for filming ‘Dine Out’ on Chic Rebellion.TV (which took a long break due to the holidays) popped up and I realized I actually couldn’t lay low as far as I wanted to.

So when one major project starts spinning in my head like that, it invites a quasi  unwelcomed  avalanche of existing and new engagements.

4 weeks ago, right before Christmas, I was invited to participate in a tight recipe competition sponsored by the Victoria, Australia Tourism Office. It was simple. I had to create a dish that represented the theme of this year’s Melbourne Food & Wine Festival — ‘Earth’– and pin it to their board on Pinterest. The prize was a trip for two to the F & W festival in early March. It sounded dreamy, but it was so broadly designed and right smack in the middle of our over the top Cuban soirées prepping, that I forgot to Pin.

I finally got around to pinning my recipe on the eve of the deadline —  the black truffle flan (I mean, it can’t much earthier than that, right?) — and was invited to NY for an evening of Australian delights, tastings and where the winner would be announced.

(R -L: Mark Lightfoot with vino company; food blogger Yvo Sin and me)

The Astor Center hosted an intimate group of bloggers, editors, foodies and chefs to mingle, talk all things F&W before being ushered into the test kithchen. Australian celeb chef Guy Grossi, who by the way is ultra cheeky, has great presence and extremely friendly, did a demo of his own food — fish en papillote — an Italian classic he grew up eating with his family. We learned about the 21st annual Food & Wine festival which spans 3 weekends during their summer.

We also Skyped with the festival’s director who gave us some detailed information and really got my nerves worked up.

(Chef Grossi’s fish dish)

As we made ourselves comfortable on the high tables, we were informed there were 3 finalists of the 10 submissions and we’d all be tasting those dishes.

Our 1st course, presented in a chirpy ‘AHA’ manner, was a spicy tomato soup with harissa by Will Budiaman from The Daily Meal. Really earthy but a tad too spicy for moi. Oh, but I did crush the entire bowl.

Our main course was a delicately prepared fish entrée by fellow blogger Nicole Taylor from the Foodculturist. Her skate with finger limes and macadamia with roasted sweet potato was special. She tied the theme by highlighting aboriginal foods, namely the “citrus caviar”.

And I was in complete shock when the 3rd dish came out. My flan. For dessert!

Oh yes! I literally screeched as I stood next to chef Guy to explain how the concept of using truffles came to mind. I mentioned the National Truffle Fest in Asheville as being the inspiration.

I was relieved and immensely satisfied I had made it as a finalist, but still chef Guy and his team had to taste, confer and choose a winner.

I had butterflies all night. I can’t even tell you why. I never get nervous in front of the camera. I’m never fazed by doing large cooking demos in public, but for some reason, my nerves were all kinds of shot. There was a point I couldn’t even eat Nicole’s dish… I was too busy photographing it and texting my family, giving them play by play updates on the evening (see… Cuban families are so over the top).

After a few minutes that seemed to be a dreadful eternity in NY, Chef called us up and congratulated us. I thought we were on an intense episode of  Top Chef as each of our dishes was analyzed…. Guy offered up that standard “But there can only be one winner…” line. Sigh.

Until he said my flan was his favorite and that I was going to Australia!

That dreadful eternity quickly turned into a hot NY minute, to use all kind of clichés. My butterflies turned into the cheesiest smile I’ve probably ever given. And I swear I almost passed out in my 6″ shoes while I did a happy dance  as he uttered the most humbling words to describe my flan: “sophisticated, well-composed, articulate, beautifully executed and refined.

I’ve enjoyed many compliments on my flans, most memorable from Joel Robuchon, but to have another chef make my recipe and artfully plate it as I had originally shared it here on the blog love it, and sexily spoon feed me, adds another element of caché.

We cheered, toasted, tightly hugged and immediately starting jesting about all we’d do in Australia.

I turned to Nicole and Will and said “You’re going to Australia and You’re going to Australia and You’re going to Austraulia,” point fingers and them and the audience at large. But, I was kidding. Really, I was. (totally forgot to mention this when I first posted! Ha.)

And then the Ellen DeGeneres moment.

Chef Guy gently turns to Nicole and Will, offers them subtle apologies, sugar coated in additional congratulatory words but  invites them along to Australia, too!

Win, win, win!

And I made new friends that night. All around awesome.

(L-R: Will, Nicole, Chef Guy and me.)

 Just when I thought 2013 was going to start sluggish, blissful moments like Tuesday night go down and set the tone for the rest of year!

My little ol’ blog, which actually celebrated 5 years just 3 weeks ago (I totally forgot) has done some amazing things for me and cultivated a life of immeasurable deliciousness and priceless experiences.

And so yeah, no laying low for now… it’s time to think about what I’ll do in Australia for 2 weeks this March. Other than the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

So, so tickled, mate.

I never shared the truffle recipe when I blogged about it, but in good measure and because it won, I’m sharing now! Please enjoy. And if you do make it, please let me know what you think!

Kind of #FLANRIDAYS, but in a different way! 😉 XO.



follow on pinterest button Espresso Infused Dark Chocolate Brownies {And Orange Essence}
* All images c/o Victoria Tourism.  Here are my Instagram shots from the night.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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0 thoughts on “You’re Going To Australia, You’re Going To Australia & You’re Going To Australia! But, I Really Am Going!

  1. WOW!! SO HAPPY for you! And I think that is really classy of them to invite the others to Australia, too. Can’t wait to hear all about Australia and see some fabo pictures. xoxo

  2. OMG…so exciting! Congratulations! Love the way you built up the suspense in the storytelling here and you look gorgeous. So happy for you!!

  3. Wow. What a moment to last a lifetime…but I bet many more moments like these will come to you…all that passion you have makes for many butterflies in the stomach waiting to be unleashed;) You so deserve it and thrilled for you to visit Australia!

  4. Wow! Congrats B! You are definitely doing what you love and inspiring us all. I’m sure the chefs love your fly. Anyone who’s had your fun has to know they are amazing. I sure miss you making your flans every Friday. Oh so yummy. I hope you love Australia. Sounds like such an amazing opportunity. So lucky. But I know it comes with working really hard, which I’ve seen you do while you were here in Atlanta.

  5. I’m so beyond thrilled for you! You are so creative and positive in everything you do and post, that it’s fabulous to see you get some much deserved recognition for your talents!

  6. Awesome Bren! Your recipe sounds fabulous. Can definitely see why it won, especially your idea to use truffle for earthiness. So happy for you, mate!

  7. WOW!!! You all are so, so amazing for being thrilled for me. I’m so grateful for your enthusiasm and time taken to read the joy in this post! It was all glorious and unexpected. I enjoyed every bit of it. It was particularly fun having a chef make one of my beloved flans and then praise it. So extremely humbling. One day, I’ll open a boutique flan shop and invite you all. With café, of course! Stay tuned for updates from Australia!

  8. I KNEW you would win! 😉 …and I must taste this Flan of yours that is garnering the worldwide acclaim and traveling opportunites ✈….go ‘head, B! A perfect example of your gifts making room for you… blessed. :)

  9. That is so AMAZING! Congratulations to the max on scoring this trip based on your talent. That is wonderful. Have loads of fun, make lots of friends and memories. XO

  10. This is very exciting. It is so refreshing to watch you now and see all your hard work pay off! To be a true creator of your own destiny is the greatest feeling in the world. Continue to be faithful to that which exists within you and congratulations.

  11. Felicidades!! I’m printing that recipe right now, you must still be smiling. All the best!

  12. Ericka: Mil gracias, amiga!

    Madelyn: Absolutely! I’m focused, man! ; )

    Daryl: You’re so fun! I love your energy for me.

    Duo Dishes: yup, yup. Will be amazing.

    Pattie: I plan on doing that and much more! Hi Five!

    Natalia: ya se, ya se. Esta esperando ese flan! Te prometo que te hare uno en el momento que llegue por LA! :)

    Dulluh: <3 <3 <3

    Eva: Thanks!

    Dany: Yes, please do and let me know how it turns out for you! And yes, totally still smiling!

    Annette: OMG! Total food porn coming to a screen near you. Promise to Instagram and tweet every day!

    Cristina: Ay amiga. Muchisimas gracias!

  13. I know I congratulated you on FB, but Tears of JOY really are flowing reading this. I’m so very PROUD of ALL your work and please know that it’s still ONLY the beginning for you. I only wish I could be a intern in your back pocket, just to get a small piece of your world. Australia will be totally Awesome and I can’t wait to “HEAR” and “READ” all about it in the wonderful posts I’m sure you will be sharing with your FANS!!

    Super, Super nice of Guy to offer the others a trip to!! Happy for Nicole too!!! 2013 is off to a Superb year for you!!!!

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