When life gives you diabetes, make crème brûlée. That's exactly what owners of food cart Sweet Pea's Brulee do nearly every day. Co-owner Tim Bergam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago. As a way to cope with his new disease, Bergam and his wife, Kate Serpa, began making crème brûlée for friends. "I couldn't eat our products, but we could feel the joy in serving people sweets which were loved," says Bergam. As the requests piled in for them to make desserts for luncheons, dinners and parties, a friend suggested they start selling them. Serpa had spent 10 years in consulting, and Bergam "too many" years in human resources, and despite little knowledge of how to open a business (except what their Multnomah County Library cards could get them access to), they opened Sweet Pea's Brulee last October. Bergam says it doesn't bother him that he can't eat many of his creations. "Like anything in life, you need moderation," he says. The duo has since added handmade marshmallows to the menu as a way to use up all the egg whites left over from making the brûlée (although the marshmallows now don't contain egg). Bergam says he invents new crème brûlée flavors as a form of therapy—the regularly changing menu has included cinnamon black walnut, pumpkin pie and butter. Traditional s'mores ($2.50), chocolate ganache cookies ($2.50) and salted chewy caramels (50 cents) make up a few of the other menu items (brûlée is $4-$4.50), and a portion of sales is donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. With these prices, moderation might be difficult.
EAT: Sweet Pea's Brulee, Good Food Here cart pod, 4298 SE Belmont St., sweetpeasbrulee.com. Noon-8:30 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-9 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.