Bruce Brown found a home in his upstate New York kitchen at a very early age. At just 8 years old, Bruce successfully prepared an impressive spaghetti dinner much to the surprise and delight of his family. To this day he still refers to that dish as "the best tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted." He felt the admiration of his parents and their friends, but he also felt a sense of possibility. His entrepreneurial spirit had been born.
Having grown up in rural Upstate New York, many things in Bruce's life were seasonal. This included his father's farm, New York's largest hog farm at the time. It also included his mother's ice cream store, Brown's Kountry Kustard, where Bruce really got his start.
Bruce's mother, Patricia Brown, was a school teacher who sought a summertime activity that would both supplement her family's income and give her two sons a way to stay out of trouble. She founded Brown's Kountry Kustard when Bruce was 9. Even though the opportunity to work was offered to both Bruce and his older brother, it quickly became obvious that Cal would be the son to carry on the farm duties rather than explore the world of soft serve and shakes. This left Bruce to be his mother's only true protégé. Bruce wasted no time seizing the chance to become a business man.
As Bruce grew in height and in experience, he took on additional responsibilities at Brown's Kountry Kustard. Each summer brought another season of challenges and prosperity. Bruce learned all aspects of maintaining inventories, purchasing, food preparation, and customer service. Part of his success at the time could be attributed to his mentor - his mother. As Bruce took on more duties, his mother was always there to step in and provide expertise if the young teenager ever required it. Sadly, this working relationship was cut all too short when Bruce lost his mother to cancer in 1985.
With a heavy heart, Bruce continued to operate Brown's Kountry Kustard without his mother until he moved to Philadelphia in 1988 to attend Temple University. In 1993 Bruce graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business Finance. During his college years Bruce never left the kitchen. He not only operated fourteen different food concession businesses along the popular Penn’s Landing riverfront in Philadelphia but he also oversaw the operations of a company called Reading Terminal Box Lunch. It was at Reading Terminal that Bruce gained an appreciation for a completely different aspect of the food industry – fresh food delivered expeditiously to a high end clientele.
Bruce returned to New York in 1994 to start Bruce Brown’s Professional Catering. His specialties included chicken and ribs and other smoked and grilled items. While very successful, Bruce accepted an attractive offer to sell Bruce Brown Professional Catering to an acquaintance in New York in 1997. With the net proceeds from the sale Bruce relocated to North Phoenix in 1998 where he began a new venture with Big Smoke Catering. The rapid success of Big Smoke Catering in North Phoenix, North Scottsdale and Fountain Hills led to the opening of Big Smoke Grill, which Bruce operated on weekend evenings as a white tablecloth restaurant in Fountain Hills. The restaurant garnered local acclaim in 1999.
While juggling both Big Smoke Catering and Big Smoke Grill, it became evident that a more focused business plan was needed. To some degree of risk, in late 1999 Bruce closed Big Smoke Grill in Fountain Hills and sold his share of Big Smoke Catering to a limited partner.
With the help of friends and clients and the advice of industry consultants, Bruce founded Bruce Brown Catering and Events on January 1, 2000. By putting his own name or “signature” on his work, Bruce is establishing a brand that is uniquely his. The superb food and first-class service delivered by Bruce Brown makes his a name synonymous with quality and premier dining in the Valley of the Sun.
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