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Former Brass owner reminisces in new book

Writing helped former restaurateur through cancer

Dec. 11, 2013

There are certain things Tim Brass doesn't miss about the restaurant business — mostly the long hours. But during the holidays, it's hard not to wish to be back at the former Brass Hi-Fi Lounge on Lisbon Road, where family and friends would gather for homemade "Tom and Jerry" drinks, an original twist on eggnog.

Recent rounds of cancer treatments and blood transfusions for multiple myeloma had Brass reminiscing about these memories over the past year, which he weaved into a recipe book, "Feeding the Body and Soul of an Era," self-published and released in July.

Brass is now recovering from the bone marrow cancer, regaining his health and visiting friends and family. He said writing the book helped him get through the worst of it.

"It was therapeutic to write," he said. "It kept me occupied when I was scared."

Through personal stories, Brass recalls a different time in Brookfield, when patrons would arrive on horseback and his parents would serve up raw beef on Sundays. His parents opened the place in 1963, and he sold it in 1998 after running it himself for more than 10 years.

"We were part of Brookfield as it was growing," he said.

The book lists dozens of community events that occurred there over the years, from mayoral election parties to countless wedding celebrations. It includes stories from both Brass and several former employees who contributed to the book, as well as 27 original Brass recipes, like the famous seafood gumbo and "Mrs C's Chocolate Eclair Dessert."

Every night at Brass ended with Frank Sinatra's "My Way." The title is even engraved on Brass' father's head stone. Some of the lyrics: "And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case, of which I'm certain: I've lived a life that's full. I traveled each and every highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way."

The Brass family did do things their own way, from the loud red wallpaper and home cooking to impromptu festivities like the time they pulled out sleeping bags and cooked up chili for customers who couldn't make it home through a winter storm.

In some ways, the Brookfield that Brass characterizes is a relic.

"Now there are chain restaurants all over and the neighborhood feel is kind of gone," he said.

But the relationships he built at Brass have not faded, he said. People he had not spoken to for decades came out to a fundraiser to help him pay the bills when he had to quit working because of his cancer treatments.

"Life's a round circle. What goes around comes around," he said. "Your friends and family are what create the tapestry of your life, and I have a huge tapestry because of a great, great place."

Brass' book can be found for $15 on Amazon.com by searching his name.

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