In his garden, Brown grows herbs, tomatoes and okra.
How was the transition of moving back to Texas?
For the longest time I felt like I was failing, leaving New York. I was like, what’s wrong? Why don’t I have the pocket to be able to stay here and ride the storm out? But I just didn’t. I’m so happy that I’m here. Building a company in New York City is very different, obviously, from building a company in Texas. Here in Texas, it’s just not as expensive … The pandemic really showed us just how fragile the performing industry is. It depends on an audience, and an audience that can’t sit six feet apart. You have to fill a house just to be able to break even with a lot of these shows. I just don’t think this is going to be the last pandemic. Hopefully the last of our lifetime, but I mean, probably not. And I can’t imagine building a career on the stage to have it taken away again. It’ll always come back, of course, but I guess I’m just thankful that I’m building a business where I get to make money doing the things I love, which is cooking and singing. And I’m not necessarily dependent on bartending and stage work to pay the bills.
How did you decide to start Crescendo Culinary?
Whenever I get the chance, I travel. I have an old ’95 pickup truck with a camper topper on the back, and I’ll put my full size mattress in there. First, I’ll go to Palo Duro State Canyon Park, and I’ll spend the night there. And then I go to a place in New Mexico, in Santa Fe. Then I make my way over to Colorado. I camp around Colorado, and I see my sister. When things were paused during the pandemic, I took a lot of time to do that. That’s when I was alone and hiking in the woods, where I was able to have the silence to be able to just cook with fire and cook for myself, where I was like, I think I want to do this in Dallas. I think I want to pursue cooking for people, and I can be a private chef. I like cooking for clients in their homes. And I like bringing people together for a party and not having to be in the back in the kitchen. I’m a performer. You get me as a cook, a singer and a personality.
How did you decide on a name?
I knew that the backbone of my work would be prep for weekly meals. But I also wanted to cater, and I wanted to provide the entire experience of food and entertainment. Crescendo is a musical term that means to grow. And I like to think that starts with me sauteeing onions or boiling water to me performing and singing at the end, to eating, celebration, drink and cheer.
Do you pick the songs you sing?
I do, but I am 110% open to people. If somebody wants to hear a song by Garth Brooks or James Taylor, I’m happy to learn the music and perform that kind of music. I’ve sung a wide variety of things from Italian opera in Tuscany to traveling around with Wynton Marsalis in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Jazz, musical theater, opera, country, folk songs — I do it all.
What’s one kitchen tool you can’t live without?
Chef’s knife. I’ve got a really cool one. It’s a 67-layer, Damascus steel knife. And I love having my Google assistant so that I can tell it things, I can ask things, and it can play Vulfpeck while I cook.
Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.