A SICILIAN IN NEW YORK: SALVATORE TAFURI
My name is Salvatore Tafuri and I am a mixologist. I have worked in New York for
about five years now. However, my adventure behind the bar started nine years ago,
where by pure coincidence I worked as a bar back at Victory Morgana Bay in Sanremo,
Italy, a beautiful city in the Liguria region. After many intense years, under the tutelage of
Gualtiero Maragni and Cristiano Sanna, I found my career.
I can’t tell you the infinite amount of times I carried ice before I finally became a bartender at
Victory Morgana Bay. The long days of ten to twelve hour shifts during the peak summer seasons
without sleep did not deter me from the career.
One day, like out of a fairytale I met a girl, Kazarae, she was in Italy working for only a few months,
but I instantly felt like a flash of lighting that it was time to leave the life I knew and everyone to live
with her in New York City. On October 3, 2010, I arrived in the Big Apple, a city that I never desired,
but at this moment, I could never live without. I searched for jobs on Craiglist.com,
and I highly recommend this website to anyone looking for bartending jobs to gain experience in the U.S.
By pure coincidence, Andrea De Leonardis, who was then the General Manager of Caffe Falai in Soho,
came across my resume and recognized Victory Morgana Bay
because he was from a small city in Liguria not far from Sanremo.
From that moment, my career and life changed. After a few months working at Caffe Falai,
I won a drink competition and newspapers like the New York Post and
the Wall Street Journal began publishing articles on me. Four years later,
I still remember when Eben Freeman wrote on a famous English blog that he considered me
one of the most innovative bartenders in New York City. Just to give you an idea, the cocktail
I created was a drink with a base of spinach and a squid ink rim.
I know it seems that I am very lucky, but it was not easy assimilating to the American method of mixology.
In my opinion, the style is less elegant than in Italy, very fast paced and very focused on profit and numbers.
I understand the focus on numbers because the objective is to pay for expenses and make a profit.
However, I do believe that there is passion and there are many professionals in this industry.
I currently work at the bar of the Standard Hotel and I have had the opportunity to work throughout
the U.S. with companies like Varnelli, Lucano, and Absolut Elyx. I have also collaborated and worked with
trailblazers in the industry, including Francesco Lafranconi, Giuseppe Gallo, Dom Costa and
Damiano Coren and countless others.
My advice is not take yourself too seriously and to make sure the client feels like they are the
most special person at the bar. We are very fortunate to work in this industry and be a part of
this talented community!
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