Sommelier Dan Brown of Bayona - Biography

New Orleans, LA

November 2011

Dan Brown’s childhood took place on farms in rural Tennessee. He grew up working on his grandfather’s farm and in his grandmother’s garden. Of note were his grandfathers many varieties of tomatoes, which the family would consume at every meal during the growing season. Holiday feasts at the Brown home were enormous and made from scratch. When his father’s family in Nashville celebrated, their German style food was served on antique china with family silver.

Brown arrived in New Orleans on a scholarship to Loyola University in 1973. He took a job bartending in a nightclub that didn’t serve any sustenance, but required jackets. Brown dove into the nightlife of New Orleans and found the architecture and culture of the city fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that he left his studies to work at the Audubon Park and Zoo. Brown also became heavily involved with win. His wife was employed by Martin Wine Cellar, one of the nation’s prevalent wine dealers. They attended wine tastings and seminars, and began making contacts in the industry with collectors and vintners.

In 1988 Brown found himself at a crossroads in his career. He had created and sold his own contracting business, and had begun making a name for himself in both the construction and wine fields. Susan Spicer was hiring for Bayona, Brown had his eye set on the sommelier position. Instead, he was hired as a prep cook and expediter, for a very small salary. He planned to open his own restaurant and applied to attend classes at the New England Culinary Institute. After he was accepted, his wife became pregnant and he realized he must stay in New Orleans. He continued at Bayona, and returned to Loyola to finish his undergraduate studies. Simultaneously, he began buying and selling culinary antiques, specifically 18th century silver flatware and wineglasses. Brown looked forward to when the sommelier at Bayona was going to leave to start his own business.

Keeping in contact with Spicer paid off. In 2000, she hired him as part-time sommelier at Bayona. Brown was ecstatic, though his life was very full with his studies, his work on historic properties and his wife and daughter. After a year, Brown assumed the full time sommelier post at Bayona. He creates a unique experience for his special customers by serving wines in 18th century glassware. He finished his Master’s and is now working at a Ph.D., while teaching part time at Tulane, and consulting at his former construction company. At Bayona, he feels as if he has found his home, and he hopes he will be involved with Bayona, wine, and their customers for the rest of his life.