I really didn’t want to do this “meme”. I find ‘The Best 9’ (or whatever it is) to be so predictable and so egotistical. As I perused IG and enjoyed smiling at the lovely moments my real life and virtual friends shared, I couldn’t help but think about how magnificently blessed I am; how incredibly lucky I am to live the life I live. I don’t deserve any of it, honestly, but I serve a God that loves me and wants me to live an amazing life. And so after some thought, I scurried this morning, with tremendous anxiety and pressure like I’ve not felt in a long time, and collected a few images that reflect the awesomeness this year has been. I think it’s completely okay to celebrate our accomplishments, our BIG moments, and our happy moments. If only one of those inspires the rest of the world to do better, than it’s worth the share!
I am so blessed to see the world very often. I started 2015 in the dreamiest way imaginable. The lovely people at Vibe invited me travel to Israel for 10 days to experience and uncover their food culture. Of all the places I’ve visited around the globe — all 31 countries — Israel has impressed me the most. You will find the best falafel ever in Akko, a northern fishing village. Apart from the culinary experience, their history and people have given me a new perspective on life and the way we see people we don’t know. I had 3 days on my own to see the spiritual side of the ancient Holy City. I went to Jesus’ baptism site which left me in tears. I went to His place of rest. And that was moving. I went to Bethlehem. It was all so dreamy. It changed my life and heart.
I also went on my first river cruise and that was just fascinating. The best part was being able to take my youngest brother with me. Meandering the Danube River with Viking River Cruises through 5 countries in 8 days was simply breathtaking. Approaching the Hungarian Parliament with a dark backdrop gently illuminated with a starlit sky is one of the most romantic things I’ve done. The perfectly lit up building is one of most majestical architectural structures I’ve seen. And we met some beautiful British people we now call our 2nd parents across the pond. That story is slated to be published in March. As if the cruise weren’t enough, I enjoy another first and took a train ride through the majestic Rocky Mountains in Canada. What an experience aboard the Rocky Mountaineer! Not only were the views surreal and the food superb, but the people who hosted me are one of the kindest and most generous group I’ve worked with. I’d do it again with my eyes closed.
National trips to San Francisco, Jackson Hole, Boise, NY, Tampa, Miami, LA, and Atlanta were so refreshing and inspiring. I uncovered food trends I never imagined thriving in modest places. I live for finding gems. My recurring relationship with Hampton Inn is just what my Dr. ordered as they sent me around the country to enjoy the great outdoors. The Jackson trip was my favorite US trip for so many reasons.
And, finally, I got my Cuban passport renewed! I can’t wait to finally go back after 15 years. It’s time.
The Today show is my happy TV place. You probably know how I just love them and how privileged and honored I feel being invited on their stage to do what I love. I only appeared twice, but twice is better than zero, right! I did two Tuesday Trend segments with Tamron Hall, whom is just a riot and as gorgeous as you see from your living room. Let’s see what 2016 brings.
The regional work is also fun and a great way to continue working on my live energy. I love my friends at ABC in Tampa — they are such fans and are always happy to have me on. I ended the year on CBS in Atlanta just two days ago. It’s always exciting reconnection with the city that helped me build my brand and work.
I have some of the best clients. I’ve been working with Sabra Hummus this year, developing recipe and demo’ing them on TV. I’ve been given tremendous license to be as creative as I want all with the goal of encouraging and inspiring you to eat healthier and more delicious. The pumpkin spice hummus I recently did still has me really excited. Other recipes I developed this year got some unexpected media attention which makes me work even harder. I’m looking forward to experimenting with new ingredients, reinventing some of my old recipes, and putting my up-spin on culinary trends that keep us excited in the kitchen.
Ater 8 years of being online and blogging, I finally merged Flanboyant Eats and B So Chic! under one fabulous umbrella called House of Bren. It was a daunting task, but as life evolves and I diversify my work, it was simply time to house everything I experience and explore in one place for you to seamlessly enjoy. I wanted a place where I could happy marry all of my experiences in food, travel, style, fashion and cultural living and a place where you’d be inspired to live the best life you are meant to have. I hope you’ve been enjoying the new site. A new logo is in the works, at which time, I’ll formally share the new (well, 6 months now) site! I’m so excited to see this change.
NPR interviewed me and aired a colourful story on of my vegetable stock. That has been on my professional bucket list for a while. It’s a proud moment.
One of the most significant benefits of my job is getting to meet people. I work from home and can easily spend days without seeing a single soul. The people with whom I work and come across in my travels — work or personal– make my life so full. I reconnected with some old and loyal friends in Atlanta, where this all started for me. There’s nothing like being surrounded by the people that love you and genuinely want to see you succeed.
A personal invitation by a new friend to sit at Lester Holt‘s desk at the Nightly News followed by a friendly chat in his office was just too kewl. We talked about his trip to Cuba and how much he loved the cars.
I got to meet and eat with Aáron Sánchez in NY. Deliciousness in abundance. The food was delicious… let’s be clear ;).
My gift of gab landed me an interview with one of my favorite TV characters this year. I got to sit down and break bread with Hisham Tawfiq, aka “Dembe” on NBC’s hit show ‘The Blacklist’ a few months ago at one of his go-to spots in Harlem, where he’s from. He is every bit of a cool cat, waiting to be discovered on the big (movie) screen. The guy is funny, super laid back, loves to eat (oh, yeah, baby!), very astutely aware of his surroundings, and can act… not to mention he’s a solid bar of sexy chocolate goodness. Sorry ladies, he’s taken. My story will be in Parade in less than two weeks. Stay tuned. In the meantime, follow him on social.
I started cycling again after 10 years of a break. I love, love, love the energy I have to exert when climbing hills. There’s nothing like being fit and healthy. I’m thankful for strength and agility.
Our family took our 2nd vacation as a full 7-head unit in Mexico for my Mother’s 64th birthday. It so happened to be Mother’s Day also which means we partied and celebrated twice as much! Good good, perfect weather, great sun, lots of laugher, and a tan… those are things that make life really, really great. And my mother was on Cloud IV, the only thing that matters.
I got the cookbook deal of my dreams! I’ll belabor you with details later next year; but know that an unsolicited email offering me to write a book on pressure-cooking has changed my life. I don’t have many words right now to properly describe how humbled I am to be trusted to pen an expert book with 100+ recipes on the very thing I love the most in the kitchen. I hope you all follow my journey and buy my book when it comes out in October, 2016!
Thanks for being a part of my journey this year! If you read, share, comment, make one of my recipes, have asked for travel advice, have tuned in to one my TV appearances, or simply followed on social, I’m grateful for you! There are a million other sites and thousand other people you could follow and engage with, but you’re here. And I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart!
Cheers to a crazy, sexy, good, and best yet 2016!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY FRIENDS! ¡FELIZ ANO NUEVO!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.