South Jersey Chef and Former Restaurateur Publishes Memoir and Recipe Book

Chef Joe Brown, 61, of Sicklerville, who has worked in the culinary profession for over 40 years, has released his new book, Melange, a memoir about his time as a South Jersey restaurateur.

In this book, he details his tenure as a chef and restaurateur who experienced all the ups and downs of restaurant ownership. The book follows the trials and tribulations – the highs and lows – of operating two well-known and acclaimed restaurants in South Jersey. It also includes many of his favorite recipes.

Melange Cafe at 1601 Chapel Avenue opened in 1995. It did well for many years, despite many challenges. In 2009, after he opened his second Melange Cafe at 18 Tanner Street in Haddonfield, he realized running two restaurants was not sustainable. He closed the Cherry Hill location in 2010. The Haddonfield restaurant operated until 2013.

Chef Joe Brown is candid about his time as a restaurant owner, from tenancy issues to construction woes, equipment problems, and several visits from the tax man. Chef Joe doesn’t sugarcoat his story and what is involved in running a restaurant! One part memoir and one part cautionary tale with bonus recipes!

Through it all, with lots of help from family, friends, and his church, he kept the faith. After a whirlwind 30+ years working in restaurants, with many accolades and recognition as an expert in Southern cuisine, including being published in major magazines, an appearance on The Food Network, and a cookbook, he became and is currently the Culinary Director at the Bethany Baptist Church in Lindenwold and Harvest Cafe & Abundant Harvest Catering.

It’s a quick but engaging read—an intriguing snapshot of South Jersey culinary history for anybody interested in restaurants from the past, the people behind them, and “where are they now.”

Chef Joe Brown provided me with a copy of this book so that I can share it with you. Very glad he did because Melange was just a bit before I moved here and started writing about the local food scene. 

Check out Chef Joe’s book, available for sale here.

Do you have any memories of dining at either of the Melange restaurants? I’d love to hear from you!

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Marilyn Johnson

Marilyn is a freelance writer covering the food and drink scene of South Jersey. You can find more of her writing on Philly Grub and NewsBreak.

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  1. avatar
    Germaine Brown says:

    What an outstanding book by Chef Joe Brown. The detailed information regarding the rise and fall of Melange Resturant was moveing but informative. The recipies adds a very positive flavor to
    the book. Bravo Chef.

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