By Angela Higginbotham
Born in Norfolk, Va., Phil Brown and his family moved every few years while his dad served in the United States Navy, including time in the state of Florida and in Jacksonville. Brown followed in his father’s footsteps and served four years in the Navy and was stationed at Mayport. He then majored in Marine Science at Jacksonville University. Upon graduation, Brown decided to transition into full time from his part time employer, United Parcel Service. He spent a total of 30 years with UPS; 24 of those years were in a management position.
In 2010, Brown retired and quickly learned that he wasn’t fully ready for a complete life of leisure. He decided to follow his passion for cooking and enrolled in the culinary program at First Coast Technical College. Upon graduation, he started his culinary career in a couple of local restaurants and eventually joined the culinary teaching staff at First Coast Technical College where he was recently named Teacher of the Year. Brown has spent time volunteering his skills to homeless residents in the area, teaching them how to cook and eventually moving on to their own positions as cooks or enrolling in culinary school.
A proud entrepreneur, Brown has formed several successful businesses over the years and he often enjoys guest chef positions in local restaurants. He and his wife of 39 years, Janet, have one daughter. They have called Julington Creek Plantation home for the past 20 years. When he does have a few minutes of spare time, Brown enjoys golf, fishing and traveling.
- What do you enjoy most about living in Julington Creek?
I love the development. I enjoy the amenities and the golf course. The pools are great. It’s just always been a really nice place to live and a great home for us. Our house is located next to a pasture and we enjoy the serenity and wildlife.
- Is there a source from which your passion for cooking comes?
My Dad would always make meals from scratch and I think I just picked up on that and learned from him. As time went on, I enjoyed cooking more and more. I love grilling and being outside with family and friends while I prepare a meal. When I came to a point where I was able, I figured education was the way to go if I wanted to learn even more.
- What is your latest business venture and how did it start?
Back in 2012, I started adding datil peppers to my sauces when I was grilling. To my surprise, friends and family loved it and even started offering money for the sauce. I bottled some in my house and sold it at the Mandarin farmer’s market. Currently, Chef Phil’s Badass BBQ Sauce line has two barbeque sauces, a hot sauce and a rub. I’m still surprised to say that it’s in 40 stores now between Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Deland. It’s available online as well and I’m hoping to have it available for purchase in Canada at some point in the future. Over time it’s morphed into more and more work but I do enjoy it.
- What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
I’m proud of a lot in my life but I would say that my marriage is my greatest accomplishment. Janet has been with me in the good and bad for 39 years and she has helped me the entire way. I couldn’t do what I do without her.
- What do you enjoy most about your culinary teaching position?
I’ve been an instructor for six years now and through all the demonstrations and teaching, the biggest thing that I enjoy most is when that light bulb goes off, when they get it and they do well at it. Then they teach their peers who don’t understand it as well and it’s just a contagious type of thing. I’m honored to be an integral and stable part in their lives. It’s very rewarding and I love seeing a student’s transformation throughout the program.
Photo courtesy Phil Brown