Brian was born on the 10th August 1949 in Wandsworth South London to parents Bert and Margaret and he had an older brother Peter. Brian and Peter attended a well-respected school in Clapham Junction, Emanuel School, which was very good for both academic study and sport. Brian enjoyed school and was very bright and he was also an accomplished rower.
Brian left school and moved to the University of Sussex where he studied chemistry; a subject that he had always excelled at and had a passion for. After his degree he began his career at BBA in the QC department but soon moved on to the creation of flavourings. It was a time of change and a melting pot of young people from different backgrounds one of whom, Richard Clark, recalls ‘he was one of the clever ones with a degree whilst many of us had only a few O levels. We had to work together as a team using each other as support in tasting and advice and it was clear from the start that Brian liked to keep things simple – why use 20 ingredients when one will do! He was creative and was a source of great knowledge.’
In 1977 Brian changed companies and started working for PFW in Greenford. It was a great time for a creative flavourist and with his strong scientific background and all the new chemicals and knowledge from Amersfoort research in Holland it was a highly productive period of his life laying strong foundations for the future. In 1984 he moved to PFW headquarters in Middletown USA and was issued with a green card by demonstrating that he was the world expert on pet food flavours.
In 1989 he moved to IFF New Brunswick where he spent the next 21 years travelling all over the world to such places as India and China. In 2010 Brian decided to move back to the UK as Director of Flavour Technology at IFF, Haverhill and set up home in nearby Bishops Stortford to be close to family and good road, rail and air networks. He served as President of the British Society of Flavourists over the period 2011-2103 and during this time, in 2012, he retired from IFF and became a consultant. He was also a valued tutor on the BSF Flavourist Course at Reading University mentoring budding flavourists from all corners of the globe who benefited from his lifetime of knowledge and his ability to stimulate and enthuse a passion for creative flavouring.
Brian and his brother Peter were able to spend many happy times experiencing lots of music events. Peter recalls the numerous times they went to The Royal College of Music and other concerts in London, not to mention several year’s visiting the 3 choirs choral festival, which they were both planning to repeat this year at the next venue, Hereford. Although work took up a lot of Brian’s time he had a great passion for rock and classical music especially opera and he was able to experience these genres all over the world on his travels across America and Europe.
Brian also had quite a passion for sport and he would go and watch his team Spurs play whenever he could. He also enjoyed watching and playing cricket and on his return to the UK in 2010 he was able to pursue his love of Test Cricket. Whilst in the USA he purchased an apartment in Vermont and from there he would indulge in his love of skiing.
Brian was a very generous man with a great sense of dry humour and was always quietly funny. He sorted out free air travel for his mum and Peter to go to America and after his dad died he bought a granny flat in Lancashire for his mum which she loved.
It is fitting to end this tribute with some of the words expressed by his career-long friend, Dennis Kujawski;
I met Brian in the UK during the late 1970s during a PFW R&D meeting. He was a young flavourist with a tremendous curiosity and genius tempered by humility and wit. Brian was a great teacher and generous with his knowledge of food and flavours. My wife and I enjoyed our first experience with Indian food under Brian’s guidance and with his explanations of spices and the historical significance of all we ate. He would later share many more of his culinary skills with us, not the least of which was the brewing and serving of a proper pot of tea.
Brian was an inspiring colleague even when we were an ocean apart. I was thrilled when he moved to The States. It sealed our friendship and he, in fact, became like family to us. He was Uncle Brian to our two children.
Brian could be both serious and witty. He had a well-developed sense of humour and enjoyed a good laugh without being condescending. He was an encyclopaedia of information and interesting facts. He could weave together the connections and implications of events and give their historical significance. He was an avid reader and collector of books.
A master flavourist and brilliant chemist, Brian was mentor to many and willing to share his creative insights with all of us. Brian brought wisdom, humour, wit, and scholarly discourse to our daily lunches. Learning was important to him and he made working on projects an innovative, creative and enjoyable experience.
Brian’s sudden death on the 11th March has been a shock to his family and the flavour industry and he will be sadly missed by his brother Peter and his cousins Sasha, Julie, Polly, Jennifer and Wendy along with all of his many work colleagues both in England and America.
The industry has lost one of its great flavourists and some of the tributes that were received at his funeral reflect the esteem in which he was held;
“Recognised expert throughout the flavour industry.”
“A mentor’s mentor.”
“A brilliant creator of cutting-edge commercially successful flavours.”
“Smart, talented and kind.”
“A supremely talented designer of elegant flavours, developing products that were cutting-edge in terms of technology, yet efficiently constructed and never unnecessarily ‘cluttered’ or over-complicated.”
“Our industry has lost a great ambassador.”
“It would be hard to imagine a kinder, gentler, more humble soul or a more knowledgeable walking encyclopaedia of the flavour industry.”
“He was the best boss I ever had.”