This is a story about a famous brownie.


No, seriously…



Once upon a time in 1975, my parents were celebrities.  It’s likely this is where I get my tendency to pretend like I’m famous when nobody is around.


Note: There’s literally no one around me.

Over 35 years ago, my parents opened a small local brownie business.  Before they met, my mom was selling these brownies to several specialty stores.  My dad then began to help and before they knew it, the business was expanding.  He formulated to-do lists filled with clever marketing ideas and business plans, while she meticulously cut and wrapped each brownie by hand.  Over time the business grew so large that their small kitchen for two became a bakery with one hundred employees, and they were being invited onto talk shows with Phil Donahue and to eat lunch with President Reagan.

The original brownie was a perfectly rich and fabulously decadent double chocolate and walnut masterpiece.  As Rachel’s Brownies grew, so did the recipes.  Next on the market was a Butterscotch Brownie that came from my dad.  These sweet and salty little rectangles were the perfect mixture of nutty brown sugar and melted butter.  Semi-sweet chocolate chips gave these brownies their ooey, gooey melted centers that would, one way or another, end up on your forehead or elbows.

These were appropriately named Rachel’s Husband’s Brownies and needless to say, my personal favorite.

As I look back onto my parents’ journey through brownie fame, I am reminded how much their story has helped to shape my love and passion for food.

Jeff and Ra El at Rachel's Brownies

My mom never entered this business with the intention of being a brownie expert–she is a woman with a deep, almost soulful connection with chocolate and decided to share that with the world.  She also has this divine power to observe food in a way that admires its true beauty and honors its perfection.  When I prepare a gorgeous dinner but feel that something is missing, it’s my mom’s influence reminding me that the spectrum of a balanced dish always involves luminous colors.  You will hardly ever catch me eating a meal that isn’t flecked with green herbs or dotted with bright red cherry tomatoes.

My mom isn’t the only one inspiring color and freshness into my meals.  It is through watching my dad prepare and plate beautiful dishes for the last 27 years that I’ve become the kitchen wizard I am today.  In a home video taken in Wrightsville Beach over twenty years ago, I am standing on a dining room chair over a stove learning how to perfectly scramble eggs with cheddar cheese.

As I document to the camera that I will be sprinkling fresh sage onto the dish, my six year old self then proceeds to scatter green ribbons over the spatula instead of the eggs.

Hey, we all have to start somewhere.

My dad’s outstanding cooking skills and influence have driven me from one kitchen to another, and one cooking show to the next, to learn everything I possibly can.  He and my mom have supplemented and supported these passions in every way, and always encouraged me to play with my food.  Now that my professional life is comprised of exactly that, my dad has been right there not only as a cooking coach, but as a business supervisor as well.  His thirty plus years in marketing have made him a true expert with a limitless flow of ideas, while my mom’s gift for perfecting a plate reminds me to eternally seek beauty in my own kitchen.

No matter how descriptive I am, it might be hard for you to envision these two extraordinary people without a visual.

This should help.

Although I come from the legacy of a bakery, you don’t want me in the kitchen measuring anything that involves flour or sugar.  Five years ago I made my best friend a birthday cake that she still shudders to think about.  Baking is a world of chemistry and specific proportions.  I’m more comfortable in cooking-land where that last minute pinch of basil or the split decision to use roasted garlic are acceptable adjustments.

Luckily, there is one thing I do know how to bake.  And damn, do I bake these well.

Rachel’s (daughter’s) Butterscotch Brownies


Note: Recipe not included, only photos filled with love and happiness and chocolate chips.  

These brownies are available through Fanfare Catering located here in Wilmington, NC.  For information on how to get them at your next lunch, dinner, baby shower, bridal shower, etc. email me at for details.


Everyone has food memories that trigger moments in childhood.  The pat-pat-pat as you tap flour over a 9×13 buttered plan is one of my very favorites.


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The most important step comes next.  Pay attention.

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Read more about the story of Rachel’s Brownies on my dad’s blog by clicking here.

*Don’t forget to check out this section of Fanfare to get more information on catering and see how you can have these famous homemade butterscotch brownies as part of your next office lunch or event!*