What is this "BraveTart" you speak of?
In 2010, this guy started following me around with a camera. Sounds creeptastic, but no: he was a professional photographer and he wasn’t so interested in me, but my desserts. That happens sometimes when you’re a CIA trained baker.
This guy was Rosco, a friend of a friend who used to hang out at Bruton Stroube, helping shoot food photography. But as the years wore on, he found himself pointing his lens at brides and grooms more than knives and spoons. He longed for a creative outlet and proposed we join forces to make a cookbook. When I’d finished laughing, I told him I wanted nothing to do with it, but if taking pictures of food would scratch the itch, he could drop by my kitchen any time.
So he did. Week after week. We nicknamed our project BraveTart. Eventually we compromised on the cookbook issue by using those photos to start a blog. BraveTart became home to Rosco’s food photography and my recipes and writing.
In the end, however, blogging caught up with us.
In October of 2010, I received an offer to head up the pastry department of a restaurant that hadn’t even opened its doors yet. By the following summer, Rosco’s BraveTart portfolio landed him a plum job at an advertising firm out of state and Sarah Jane, my good friend, fellow baker and professional photographer took over as Pastry Paparazzi. The dynamic of the blog has evolved with these changes, but the basic formula remains the same.
I make dessert. Someone takes a picture. You get the recipe.
BraveTart = Stella + Rosco & Sarah
So, I’m Stella Parks. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2002. After a few years working in some really terrific restaurants, I had a quarter life crisis. Did I really want to play with chocolate for a living? So I gave my notice, cashed out my savings, and moved to Tokyo.
Some people buy a fancy car. Some people have an irresponsible fling. Some people enroll in language school in Shinjuku. In any event, after a while I came to my senses and realized yes, of course I want to spend my life playing with chocolate. But instead of finding myself in debt for a Jaguar or nursing a broken heart, I gained functional fluency in Japanese. As far as life crises go, it was fairly productive. I moved back home to Lexington, Kentucky and have spent every day since baking something.
I’ve worked as Pastry Girl at Table 310 since it opened in November 2010. My dessert menu there changes almost daily and if not for Kentucky’s lack of native vanilla orchids, chocolate plantations, and citrus groves it would be entirely local. I make every element of my desserts by hand, from the sprinkles on the cupcakes to the peanut butter cups stirred into banana ice cream. In February 2012, Food & Wine magazine named me one America's Best New Pastry Chefs, then promptly dipped me in chocolate sprinkles.
Feel free to drop me a line with any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Stephen “Rosco” Weber
Rosco’s love of food photography is why BraveTart exists in the first place. He earned his degree in photography from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Post graduation, he came back to his home state of Kentucky and established Sideshow Photo. Publications such as MIX Magazine and American Songwriter have featured his work, and you can find his photography in the liner notes of musicians like Patty Griffin and Alejandro Escovedo.
Rosco’s back in Carbondale now, where he works as an account manager and house photographer for Arthur Agency. He may have left Kentucky, but you haven’t seen the last of him yet…
For a list of posts featuring Rosco’s photography, click here.
Sarah Jane Sanders
Sarah earned her degree in Fine Art with a focus on New Media at the University of Kentucky and later received the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Hy Sheanin memorial Scholarship.
Ages ago Sarah and I worked together at Bluegrass Baking Company, a phenomenal local bakery specializing in European style hearth breads. Her background in professional bread & pastry production makes her an especially thoughtful food photographer.
See all of Sarah’s work on BraveTart here.
Want even more BraveTart? (It's a rhetorical question. Be polite.)
Ironically, two years after telling Rosco I had no desire to write a cookbook, I’m…well, writing a cookbook. It's kind of a long story, but in summary: my first book will be published by Norton in 2014, tentatively titled Sweet Truth: the Secret History of Iconic American Desserts.
It’s a long wait, so in the meantime, stay up to date by having BraveTart sent straight to your inbox. Click here to subscribe via email. Catch up on the BraveTart column at Serious Eats or find me and Sarah on Gilt Taste from time to time too.
Thanks for stopping by!
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