Tom Brown, the Bon Appétit General Manager at Goucher, ensures that the dining halls are up and
running as he manages a diverse team of staff. Brown, who has held this position since the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year and worked at Goucher for the past three years, has an array of experience in the food industry.
Brown got his start bussing tables and washing dishes at a restaurant in Colorado, and noted that he still talks to the restaurant owner and chefs today. It was also in Colorado where he made his first connection to Goucher. Brown met his wife, Jen, a Goucher alum, who waitressed at the restaurant where he worked.
Because Brown is from New York and Jen is a Baltimore native, they moved back to the East Coast together, where Brown worked at a French restaurant, Le Cygne, in New York City. “[It’s] fine dining, expensive, refined, and gorgeous” he said. From there, he was sent to Paris to attend culinary school, where he only stayed a short while before working at a two (out of three) star restaurant in Paris. After a few years, he was back at Le Cygne as sous chef.
Brown wanted to try something new. So he got involved in the hotel industry and landed a job at a restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in D.C. After a few years he and Jen were “done with the whole city thing…[and] wanted to go back to the Rocky Mountains,” he said. Brown spent just under a year as a chef at a resort restaurant in Colorado before finally moving back east to raise his kids. Before coming to Baltimore, Brown was the executive sous chef at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich, CT, which he said was, “the busiest place I’ve ever been in my life.”
Brown has worked in various positions in the food industry in the Baltimore area since 1997. His first position in Baltimore was at Polo Grill, where his successor was Bill Griffin, the current executive chef of Bon Appétit at Goucher. In addition to chef positions, he was also a culinary instructor for a few years, which he enjoyed but said, “teaching will make you poor,” and like any teaching job, has a syllabus and standards. During his pre-Goucher, Baltimore years, he served as the director of catering at Johns Hopkins and managed his own restaurant. “[I] gave up part of my salary for a partnership in the business…I loved it,” Brown said.
A few years ago, when the position of director of operations of Bon Appétit at Goucher opened up, Brown interviewed with Norman Zwagil, the former general manager. “What was supposed to be a half an hour interview was three hours,” Brown said, “we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things.”
Brown enjoys working at Goucher because he is able to work with many different types of people.
“It’s kind of fun that I talk to a lot of different people at a lot of different levels, and still feel like an equal,” Brown said. “I can look at a lot of the people on the staff here and know that they care.” He explained that this creates a team atmosphere, something that Brown really believes in. When asked what his favorite dining area is, Brown said he doesn’t have one, but they all “have a certain tone or timbre,” which makes working at Goucher very unique.