James Peterson grew up in northern California where he pursued a chemistry degree at U.C. Berkeley. After college, he went around the world, working west to east, from Japan to India, and eventually to France where he found his first calling, cuisine. After completing his trip, Jim returned to France where he worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world. He has a profound sense of food and cooking.
When James returned to America, he settled in New York where he owned a highly acclaimed French restaurant, Le Petit Robert. The restaurant was once described, by Jay Jacobs in Gourmet magazine, as “what is perhaps the most creative restaurant in New York.” After about five years, the restaurant closed—too many truffles and too much foie gras—and he became a professor at The French Culinary Institute, an experience that eventually led to his becoming established as a major culinary author.
In a critical juncture in his life, he was invited to translate some pastry books from French into English. It was during this project that the publisher invited him to write his own book. He kept this idea under his hat until he bought an apartment and simultaneously lost his job. Desperate for cash, Jim suggested a book about sauces. After putting together a formal proposal, the publisher decided they wanted the book and gave him enough of an advance to get him out of his pinch. After two years of constant work, Jim completed Sauces. Years later, Jim found out that the first printing was 1300 copies. Now the book has sold in the six figures.
James’s fascination with cuisine led him to perfumery. A mention of ambergris in a 16th century culinary text inspired experiments with precious aromatic substances from all over the world. Initially he would smear concentrated essences on his arm to see how they combined, but after one experiment in which a synthetic chemical stunk up the whole house, he has since combined the essences, drop by drop, in little vials.
It is the gradual unfolding of aromas and complexes that keeps James fascinated by his (relatively) new pursuit. The search for a new perfume is analogous to creating a fine sauce—struggling note by note, until a perfect and original flavor comes into being.
James is an olfactory sensualist who appreciates the subtleties of great wines, wonderful cooking, and the nuances of fine perfumes. Now that he has established Brooklyn Perfume Company, he is able to share the results of his creative experiments.