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  • Tara Crutchfield

GLAZE Confections

A flour-covered five-year-old making it ‘snow’ in the kitchen turned Food Network champion is making your favorite farmers market macarons – in case you didn’t know. Chef Briea Lowe is a trained pastry chef with an impressive career, a thriving Central Florida confection business, and a passion for making culinary education accessible to aspiring chefs. The GLAZE Confections owner has loved playing with food her entire life.



“My first memory of baking was with my grandmother. She was making what we call bizcochitos,” Chef Brie said. “In Spanish families, you use cinnamon, anise, and a sugar cookie dough.” Though delicious, Briea wasn’t dazzled by the cookie’s appearance like the treats she saw on the Food Network. “That’s when my mom would step in,” she said. “My mom loved all the piping techniques growing up and always made us those old school teddy bear cakes with the star tip with endless stars of different colors.”


Like a sponge cake in the oven, a passion for the culinary arts rose within Briea with every captivating Food Network program, baking session with her grandmother, and piped star from her mom. “I decided at a young age that I’d figure out how to get on TV no matter what it took,” she said.


Photo Provided

From ages 12-17, Briea trained in the first-ever performing arts school in Osceola County. “It was very exciting to be that influenced by art,” she said. The pastry chef joked that she only left the performing arts to avoid becoming a ‘starving artist.’ Her friends heartened Briea that the baking she loved so much and practiced constantly was an art form and that she should pursue it.


Determined to find a way to make a living ‘playing with her food,’ Breia applied to Le Cordon Bleu’s rising chef competition. She took 3rd place and received a $15K scholarship. On the way to sign the contract to go to Le Cordon Bleu, her mother cut the car’s wheel and pointed at a school on the roadside – Notter School of Pastry Arts. Briea’s mother encouraged her to be open-minded and check out the school. She’d already won a scholarship. Why divert the plan? “Passion,” her mom told her. 


The world champion pastry chef, whose name graced the building, Ewald Notter, was on-site that day, building a showpiece. The woman giving Briea and her mother a tour of the school nudged her to make his acquaintance. Briea peeked around the corner at Notter and described him as intimidating and impressive. Accessibility to a chef of his caliber was an ‘epiphany moment’ for young Briea.


Photo Provided

Notter spotted the 17-year-old culinary devotee and waved her over. As she stood next to him at the demo table, the chef skipped pleasantries and started teaching her how to make chocolate petals. “I’d never touched chocolate, let alone know you could sculpt with it,” she said. A quick study, Briea would eventually become Notter’s Apprentice/ Assistant and help him run the pastry school. After a few short months during her training, he had promoted her to ‘instructor,’ and she was teaching solo by age 20. Having represented the USA at 18 years old and obtained a mentor/coach, she and Notter began entering her into competition after competition.


After working with Notter and training alongside his son, the chef helped Briea get placement in Palm Beach, where she became the assistant pastry chef of the Everglades Club. She continued working in resorts from Shingle Creek and Bonnet Creek to helping open the Ritz Carlton in Orlando. Chef Brie consulted for several confectionery businesses.


The young pastry chef moved on to work in Virginia. She taught and sold goods at Sur La Table in Alexandria, Virginia. After two years and much success, Briea had learned all there was for her to know in that position. She decided it was time to move on and build something of her own. “I need to be challenged, and I need to share that information with other people,” she said. Chef Brie accepted a job offer from the Michelin Star restaurant group Fabio Trabocchi and went on to work alongside Trabocchi’s executive corporate pastry chef, Christian Capo. She worked in the heart of Georgetown as the pastry chef of Fiola Mare.


She returned to consulting until the pandemic hit three months later. Briea and her husband Brad moved back to Florida and started GLAZE Confections four months later. The couple attended their first-ever market as GLAZE Confections in Harmony, Florida, over the Halloween weekend of 2020. “It was exciting because this was the first time we took a leap,” she said. The pastry chef was overwhelmed by the support they received from a town that played such a significant role in their story. Harmony was the place she and her husband went on a blind date their mothers set them up on and where they fell in love over the summer of 2013.


The Lowes branched out of Harmony with more markets and events, a hit-or-miss process. After encouragement from other market vendors, GLAZE Confections attended their first Winter Haven Farmers Market in June of 2021. “It seemed to be anywhere we could make people feel like they could create a special moment – that would attract people,” Chef Brie said. “It’s so nice to see that this community appreciates culinary cuisine and creating those real hometown moments.”


Orlando and Winter Haven became go-to markets where Chef Brie would sell out of Victorian sponge cakes, dense chocolate cakes (which she calls Grandma’s Chocolate Cake), sandwich cookies, and jumbo macarons. Briea’s own happiness is reflected in the faces of customers enjoying her food – her art. “Watching a person eat is where a chef’s joy is,” she said. “At least for me, it is.”


Sweets and Showbiz


Photo by Brad Lowe

The little girl who set her sights on a television debut realized her dream many times over. Chef Brie first worked with the Food Network as a contestant on “Sugar Dome” at age 20. Partnered with a costume designer, she built a colossal structure almost entirely out of sugar. “It ended up toppling over onto my head,” she remembered. 


She joined the network again in 2014 for Season 4 of “Halloween Wars.” During the filming of the last episode, Briea came down with a bad case of strep throat. She pushed on, and her team, Corpse Crushers, won the competition.


Like anyone who finds themselves in the judgmental glare of the public eye, Briea received her share of criticism and nasty comments online. “I didn’t use the publicity like I should have at that young age,” she said. “I was too scared based on the criticism that I received.”


The Season 4 “Halloween Wars” champ continued, “If I could say anything to a younger generation – never listen to the naysayers who say, ‘You’re so young, you have so much time.’ I hate when older people tell me that. My advice to the younger generation – you run as fast as you want. Do it. If you’re willing to grind and put in the hours, and you’re sweating 20 hours a day at something you want to get good at – I commend you. I encourage you.”


Chef Brie was also a part of “Halloween Wars” Season 7 in episodes 1-4. These episodes taught her perseverance. She thought her team would be sent home every episode, but they proved their capabilities repeatedly. “Only pressure can make diamonds!” she said. “We didn’t win, but our edible art spoke its story and sparkled.”


The pastry chef returned to Food Network on the team “Baking Spirits Bright” for “Holiday Wars” Season 4, which aired in November. Briea’s favorite part of the experience comes after filming wraps, the episode airs, and reactions to her creations roll in. “I do it because I want to see people’s appreciation for my art.”


Pastry Fundamentals


Accessible education and mental health in the culinary arts impassion Chef Briea Lowe. When Notter School of Pastry Arts closed its doors, her mentor gifted her all 38 years’ worth of teaching content. “That was the biggest gift he could have ever given me,” she said. “It still brings me to tears that he trusts me that much.” Prepared to offer her skills and talent to the education of up-and-coming culinary students, Chef Brie plans to lean into the online space. More importantly, she plans to keep it free.


“I believe in old-school values as far as business goes and learning a skill. I don’t think we should have institutions that charge people for school,” she said. “I genuinely believe that if you want to learn something, that’s on you as a human. Go out and learn it. But to charge people and then to be like, ‘I’ll pay you minimum wage for the next ten years,’ that’s miserable. I don’t think that’s how we should reward the young culinary society.”


Long before her television debut, Briea’s mentor gave her valuable advice. He told her, ‘You have so much talent. You will always be belittled for it and pushed down for it to try and dim your light. Just know this and always push through it.’


“Had I known to have more confidence in my skills and myself to not listen to all those naysayers, I think I could have ended up farther than I am at this point,” she reflected. “But I think I needed to go through that to be a better teacher.”


The bubbly pastry chef imparts her know-how to viewers on her YouTube channel Pastry Fundamentals, produced by her husband’s company, Lowe Media Works. Briea and Brad have also discussed producing a culinary-centric mental health podcast. With so many ideas and recent health complications, the couple decided to focus on GLAZE and Pastry Fundamentals for the time being. The Lowes moved from Lake Nona to a new home in Orlando that will double as a fully operational kitchen set. Of the 2000 square foot house, 800 square feet is the kitchen, and 200 square feet is a studio space. Several networks interested in a future televised concept have approached the chef. Follow Chef Brie’s sweet journey on social media. 


Diamonds are more akin to tea cakes than you might think. Pastry chef and business owner Briea Lowe strives for GLAZE Confections to be a brand built on high quality, reasonable prices, and memorable experiences. A television-quality sculpted cake wrapped in fondant and sugar pearls is impressive, like a ruby-studded necklace. All costs considered, sometimes costume jewelry is better than the real thing. It’s just as sparkly, compliments the outfit, and won’t break the bank. “In a sense, GLAZE is the costume jewelry of what the pastry industry is,” she said. It truly is the small pleasures in life.


Photography by Amy Sexson

 

GLAZE Confections
IG @glazeconfections
YouTube @PastryFundamentals

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