CEO, Founder & Award Winning Pastry Chef
Dessert Gallery owner, Sara Brook starts every day by walking through the bakery and checking out every station. From the mixers and bakers to the decorators and fulfillment…Sara greets everyone personally and looks at everything. She says, “If I wouldn’t serve it in my own home, I’m not serving it at Dessert Gallery.” Sara’s expectation of excellence is the reason Dessert Gallery Bakery & Café has been a staple in the Houston community since 1995.
For Sara Brook, life has been sweet. "What can I say? I have loved desserts since the day I was born," confesses the fifth-generation Houstonian and the youngest of three children. "I have always had a passion for baking. I even have a special anniversary edition Easy Bake Oven in my office! My fondest childhood memory is as a 4-year-old in preschool, taking turns mixing cake batter in class. After nearly 40 years in business, I still love looking at pictures of desserts and coming up with new recipes."
But she didn’t start out as a chef. After graduating first in her class from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in computer science and sociology, Brook was working at a law firm and studying for the LSAT when she glanced around the room one day and decided that law seemed a bit too serious. "I was determined to come up with a plan to spend days doing what I loved," she said. Bye-bye law, hello baking!
At the age of 21, Brook launched her first dessert business, and hasn't looked back. The Executive Sweet, which flourished in Houston from 1979 until 1988 before she sold it, was a hit. One week later, without skipping a beat, Brook launched Sara Brook Desserts, a dessert catering company she operated out of the River Oaks Grill. When customers repeatedly asked for the chocolate sauce she had created, Brook decided to devote full time to marketing and selling her sauce, The Great Chocolate Cover Up, nationwide through specialty and gourmet food stores. In 1992, Brook sold that company and continued working with the new owners as a consultant for two years.
Start of Dessert Gallery
In 1995, Brook founded her third (and favorite) dessert company with her 4-year-old daughter, Jennifer at her side: Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe, Houston's premier dessert bakery. Since opening, Dessert Gallery has consistently been recognized for Best Desserts in Houston by a wide variety of publications. In 2001, Brook received the prestigious Award for Culinary Excellence as Pastry Chef of the Year from My Table ~ Houston's Dining Magazine. In 2011, Sara was one of 18 national finalists for the ABC News Nightline People’s Platelist Award. In 2017, she graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. And in 2019, Brook was chosen as the Houston Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Honoree. Today, Dessert Gallery is certified as a Women's Business Enterprise by the City of Houston, the State of Texas and the WBEA (Women's Business Enterprise Alliance.)
By 2015, Sara's daughter, Jen had long since graduated from college and she convinced mom it was time for a re-brand. "I have to admit I was nervous to make the change, but I trusted Jen's instincts and let her lead the way. I've never looked back; Jen was spot-on, as usual!" says the proud mom. Dessert Gallery went from the red, purple and gold starburst to the smart, bright and fresh logo which the brand proudly "wears" today. Dessert Gallery has one location in Houston which offers curbside pick-up and a variety of delivery options through multiple apps, a thriving Internet and social media presence, plus, Sara ships her desserts nationwide.
Brook is appreciative that she has made a career out of her passion and gives back in many ways, each year, to her numerous supporters. Whether through charitable donations, or mentoring young entrepreneurial hopefuls, Sara continually shares her love of baking and business sense with the community. In addition to making donations to nonprofit organizations throughout the year, Dessert Gallery also donates to Second Servings of Houston every month.
During times of adversity, Sara is always among the first to help. After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Sara led a sandwich brigade by driving up and down every street in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods, donating fresh lunches to victims and caseworkers. Within days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sara began providing food to healthcare workers on the frontlines. Soon after, other restaurateurs followed suit. Dessert Gallery was recognized by the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau/Houston First Corporation for contributions during COVID-19.
The Sweet Life
Sara does not rest on her laurels. Despite the success of several classic desserts on the menu, she is always working on new recipes, new products, and new designs. When her customers tell her what they want…she listens. Based on demand, Sara added vegan desserts, gluten-friendly items, sugar-free selections, and other special diet dessert options. Sara continually adds loyal fans by being part of multiple generations of families’ life cycle events. "It’s an honor and a privilege to be part of a family’s traditions. Whether it's time to celebrate or to indulge or you just need something to help you feel better, Dessert Gallery will always be here for you," says Brook.