Welcome back to our weekly feature highlighting brothers who throw down in the kitchen. This week we caught up with Dana in Delaware, the king of cakes.

View photos of Dana and his signature cakes »


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Name: Dana Herbert
Occupation: Pastry Chef, owner of Desserts By Dana
Age: 33
City: Bear, Delaware

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ESSENCE.COM: You make amazing cakes in any shape it seems. So how did you get your start in the kitchen?
 I think it started with my Grandmother.  I remember hanging on the edge of her counter as a child and watching her make her infamous sugar cookies or some of her homemade jams and jellies.  I would love to eat the sugar cookie dough scraps leftover.  My grandmother can really burn. 

ESSENCE.COM: And what’s one of your best cooking tips?
Amazingly one of my favorite tips is for use on the savory side. Of course I had to sneak in a few pastry ingredients though.  Finely ground coffee, sugar, salt, and a pinch of cocoa powder make an amazing rub for meats such as beef, and venison.

ESSENCE.COM: Sounds tasty. Now, have you had any kitchen mishaps you have learned from?
HERBERT: I believe my biggest kitchen mistake was when I was working on a sugar sculpture. I was in the early stages of learning to work with sugar to make pulled and blown sculptures. I was putting some finishing pieces on it and I heard a crack. I looked everywhere but saw no places where the crack occurred. So I continued to build the piece and as I went to put the last dragon fly on the piece, it imploded and came crashing down in a thousand pieces. Luckily I had a few showpieces on my shelf in the office and was able to put one of them out without anyone knowing the wiser. But what a lesson. Always have a back up plan.

ESSENCE.COM: Definitely. And what street treat recipe are you sharing with us?
HERBERT: One of my signature dishes is the caramel sweet potato cheesecake. Its definitely to die for. Some popular area restaurants serve it currently. Around Thanksgiving they move so quickly it seems as if we cannot shut the oven down.

For more info on Dana visit DessertsByDana.com and try his signature dish here, Caramel Sweet Potato Cheesecake. »