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Loving life in hospitality: Alessio Porcedda

28 July 2018 by
Loving life in hospitality: Alessio Porcedda

Why did you come to the UK?

I wanted to come to learn English, and the only way to do that is to live and work with English people. I came here from Italy at the end of 2014. Before I came to England my level of English was "bonjour"!

I think in life everyone should learn and be involved in more cultures than their own - especially in this industry, where you have to be forward-facing and talk to people of all cultures from a variety of different countries. That's one of the things I love most about being behind the bar.

Why did you want to get into the hospitality industry?

I was 17 or 18. I am passionate about motorbikes and would work in the summer seasons to pay for one. There was a discotheque in my village and I started working there as a barback, collecting glasses at the weekends while I studied business at college. I never thought of it as my job - I thought I was going to be an accountant. I love numbers, but I realised that I wanted to change. I realised that when I applied for a mortgage and the bank didn't need my parents' signatures - they recognised bartending as a profession. From that point I knew I wanted to be a professional in the field.

Do you have a motto?

I always say that there's more to bartending than just cocktails. It's great to get a bit of someone's life. It's nice to have a moment with someone. Also, you're always learning - you should never stop.

You were at Searcys for a year. What did you learn?

I learned a lot. When I first came to London I didn't want to work in an Italian restaurant to learn English, so I worked in a private members' club with ex-military. You can imagine the kind of language 
I picked up there - it was real English! From there I started applying for jobs in bigger companies. In Searcys I was the bartender on the top floor at the Gherkin; we worked with high-level products, and I remember, when we were doing a stocktake, I would look at all of these fantastic bottles - I was blown away.

Who has been a mentor to you?

I've always loved to move around. The more you move, the more you get. After my second year working as a bartender, I started working in a pub - pubs are not common in Italy. I met the owner, who was a really smart guy, and he said: "I don't want anyone to be born and die in the same company - you will get nothing out of it."

What is different about working here to other places you've worked before?

I am so proud of Stirling's (the RAC's restaurant and cocktail bar). I have been here since it opened. I love opening people's eyes to new drinks. Our guests are not guests as in other bars, they are members. When you walk around the lounges you see them a couple of times a week - sometimes every day - and you get to know them. We are here to give them an experience and to let them enjoy their own place. The aim of any hospitality job should always be the same - to help people feel at home.

How do you come up with the recipes?

The Stirling's Moss drink [inspired by the Woodcote racing green livery] was built around the tastes of the racing driver Stirling Moss. We know what he likes and we made it for him. Some of my drinks are inspired by others, while others have a history behind them.

Another is inspired by F1 champion John Surtees, who rode a red and grey motorbike with a yellow spot. Within hours we came up with a cocktail that was red and grey and topped with a yellow garnish. He was so happy, which made me happy.

How do you see your future?

At the beginning, when I chose the profession, the idea was to have my own place. But I was young, still in university. We've just finished the first level of WSET and now we are going to do the second one. We are also off to do a rum masterclass too, so it's not all about the cocktails!

Tell me something I don't know about you

I have spent some time in the kitchen during the course of my career. I know how to cook in front of the diners, and not just omelettes - I can fillet a fish. The idea was to improve my skills 
and to find a way to connect the kitchen to my drinks.

CV

July 2016-present Head bartender/bar supervisor, RAC, Woodcote Park, Epsom June 2015-May 2016 Bartender, Searcys at the Gherkin, London May-Aug 2015 Bartender, Love and Liquor nightclub, London

December 2014-May 2015 Bartender, the In & Out (the Naval and Military Club), London

2012-2014 Bar supervisor/bartender, Net Caffe, Cagliari, Italy

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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