Mommy gives chef recipe for success
Dena Brown never imagined that the son chased out of the kitchen, “not wanting him to make a mess”, would become a top chef and restaurateur after a roller-coaster ride through academia and the working world.
Yesterday, Brown looked on with a twinkle in her eye as she and scores of other moms were fêted at Pages in the Gardens, son David’s eatery in Hope Gardens, St Andrew, which flung open its doors to gastronomic delight on Mother’s Day yesterday.
Dena Brown said she was filled with pride as she saw her son’s two-and-a-half-year-old business become what, for her, is an overnight success. But David Brown’s appetite for culinary creativity was never a boyhood ambition as he wended his way through different careers until his gut pulled him to the oven.
“My son’s restaurant was not his first career in life. He had other plans, especially after securing two degrees. He went away to school in the United States (US), and when he graduated, he came back here and lectured at The University of The West Indies,” Dena told The Gleaner yesterday afternoon.
“Then he worked with the United Nations Environment Programme. After that, he went to the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, and then, he said finally, ‘These things are not what I want to do.’”
That declaration came as a shock, but she didn’t dampen his optimism.
“When he said that, I was a bit surprised, even though I knew from he was a child that he wanted to cook ... ,” Dena said, recounting with hilarity when David hosted 20 people for dinner in the US. She said she schooled him over the phone on how to cook rice and peas, stewed peas, and curried chicken.
“The next day, I called him and asked if the people’s children were okay and if everybody was still alive. He laughed and said, ‘Mommy, they had a great time and said it was good,’” Mom told The Gleaner.
“When he said he wanted to start the restaurant, I gave him all the support. I don’t think parents should make career choices for children. Some want them to be lawyers and doctors, but allow them to bring out the best in themselves. The best thing for you to do is give them love and support.”
David told The Gleaner that he is certain that his motivation came from watching his mother and grandmother extend hospitality to guests.
“Grandma had a shop, bar and restaurant in Mile Gully, Manchester. She loved to entertain. In those days, there were no cellular phones, but people were just arriving from overseas and from Kingston, and she would just jump up and start cooking and entertaining.
“My mother, similarly, was a fantastic entertainer. She knew how to get people together for parties and to our house to dine, and she was always ready to serve and give care. Starting the restaurant business was a natural thing because I’ve seen how Grandma and Mommy made people comfortable and happy,” said Chef Brown.