5 Things We Learned About: Erin Reed of Brabo

By Rina Rapuano  |  February 5, 2014

February is a pretty nasty month in the Mid-Atlantic, so we aim to brighten it as best we can with a weekly feature on pastry chefs. First up is Brabo pastry chef Erin Reed, who has been making waves with her creative confections and interesting combinations since she arrived from sister restaurant Marcel’s in July. She graciously spoke with us today in the throes of the last frantic prep hours for tonight’s Sugar & Champagne event. Here are five things we learned about her:

1. Before joining the pastry team at Morimoto in Philadelphia for just over a year, she hadn’t had much experience working with Japanese cuisine. Now, she incorporates those flavors in her work at Brabo. “You’ll see a little bit of Japanese influence in my desserts, as far as my ingredients,” she says.

2. Her first memory of baking on her own came with a fortuitous Christmas present - an Easy Bake Oven. “I had a lot of fun with it,” she says of making three-layer cakes. “I quickly moved on to just using the regular oven, though.” Reed says she would frequently comb through her mother’s cookbooks to see which recipes could be made with ingredients they had on hand. “I didn’t really start out loving desserts as a specialty,” she says. “That kind of came later.”

3. She had a tough time answering the question “crunchy or smooth?” - but when pressed, Reed confesses that she buys crunchy peanut butter.

4. Reed likes to play around with desserts that marry sweet with savory, as with her Brillat-Savarin cheese panna cotta. “I get a lot of comments that my desserts aren’t very sweet,” she says. She also makes a beet macaron with Brillat-Savarin cream and a shot of kaffir lime soda.

5. When asked if she prefers chocolate or butterscotch, she (reluctantly) chooses butterscotch. “The chocolate dessert is something I struggle with as far as being more creative,” she says, conceding that many chocoholics want something simple and familiar, like a molten chocolate cake. But she manages to infuse her own style into all her desserts, as evidenced by a creation she just introduced on Monday: a flourless chocolate cake base with milk chocolate mousse, caramel-espresso ice cream, candied hazelnuts, praline sauce and a cocoa nib tuile.

We’ll take one of those, thanks.