Curtis Brown, the front man of hard-rockin’ Bad Wizard who opened the Endless Summer taco truck and then sold it in order to move to Los Angeles and open Territory Barbecue + Records in Silver Lake, is back in New York. Rather improbably (considering the taco truck was his first professional cooking gig), he’s working as Ron Silver’s right-hand man at Bubby’s. (Fun fact: He’s not the first to make the move from rock-and-roller to dough roller — in fact, he was once bandmates with Stephen Tanner, now chef-owner of the Commodore.) Brown tells us he met Silver through mutual friends, and they immediately hit it off. Now he’s helping Silver revamp the menu, and they’ll soon fly to the Bubby’s in Yokohama to see about expanding to Tokyo.
Several months into his stint at Bubby’s, Brown has started getting hamburger meat from Fleisher’s and grinding it in house, and he’s using Heritage Pork for housemade brunch sausages. He’s added specials like a Polish-sausage plate with housemade sauerkraut, and has started curing charcuterie in house. But for the most part, he’s keeping it simple. “Ron and I are both into old church cookbooks,” he tells us. “We’ve been getting a lot from those. We don’t feel there’s any need to elaborate on some of these classics.”
So is life as a corporate chef preferable to touring the country and slinging tacos? “Of course it’s a big change from being on the road,” he says, “but it’s good — I have health insurance and I have a paycheck every week and I don’t have to hustle as much. I mean, I’m 38 years old.” Still, despite 60-hour weeks on top of caring for a young son, he tells us he’s working on new music, with a new band, and he hopes to eventually release an album: “I’ve gotten really into this band Christian Death, and I’m making this real drum-machine-heavy dancy, gothy stuff.” You won’t hear it in the dining room of Bubby’s, though you may just hear it coming from the kitchen.