• 10.-12. October 2022
  • Exhibition Centre Berlin

14 September 2021, by Angus Winchester

Bar Scene: What Kind of Heroes it Really Takes

Angus Winchester, Global Director of Education at Bar Convent Berlin (BCB), is convinced that the bar industry needs people to look up to, who inspire and motivate - true heroes.


Just now I was wondering what topic I could possibly write about? But apparently the universe already knew: My Facebook memory from 11 years ago was about how “true heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost”. Obviously, we have just remembered the tragic events of 9/11 in the USA and been reminded not just of the deaths of civilians but the heroism of the First Responders – the helpers on the ground who lost their lives. In New York, 18-year-old British Emma Raducanu has just won a Grand Slam tennis tournament. Plus, on Instagram I raved about Bobby Heugel and how I admire not just what he does but how he does it. The universe wants me to talk about heroes.


What Drives Gastro Heroes

I use the first quote (oddly by Arthur Ashe the black American tennis player) fairly regularly in my training sessions for new-to-hospitality staff. I try to show them the nobility of wanting to serve others. And also, that our job is not to make people drunker or fatter, but to make them feel better – even though we may not be able to cure cancer or reconcile Jews and Arabs. This industry is very human at its heart. And even if you are not drawn to it instinctively the many life skills you can learn from working hard at it will stand you in great stead for future endeavours. The art of selling or convincing people to try something new. The art of building a relationship, the successful practice of multi-tasking and so much more. None of us got into the industry to get rich or famous. The best got into it to serve others despite the hardships and that is truly heroic behaviour.


The Tiresome Struggles of our Industry

Secondly, the pandemic has created a new category to sit behind the First Responders – that of Essential Workers. From health care workers to shop assistants to food and drink retail perhaps the only thing we have in common is that we are low paid – and not low skilled as many immigration authorities would have you believe. Our industry has been decimated and those within it have struggled. But even as civilians mourn the loss of social spaces when they are allowed back they treat the staff poorly. This can manifest itself by, for example, railing against mandatory masks and vaccinations. In addition, the habit of no-shows, which massively harms restaurants, has also gotten worse, not better. I know of many people that leave our industry because of the abhorrent behaviour of other humans during the pandemic – the veritable straw that broke the camel’s back. While we may not be the ones to run into the fire the so-called Essential Worker can certainly feel heroic.


Heroism Knows No Age

Thirdly, the meteoric rise of Emma Raducanu should not just be seen as a triumph for Britain but in fact a salutary lesson and inspiration for us all. As a society we are fascinated by youth – all the 30 Under 30 lists are a testament to that. And while being a middle-aged man who thinks that longevity in our industry should also be celebrated I am still inspired by such actions as Ms Raducanus. Especially, considering that it’s not just her natural talent but her attitude that is also obvious. From her work ethic to her constant desire for education and learning and self-improvement she is a role model – not just for young female tennis players – but all young people who want to succeed in their chosen career.


Searching and Finding Role Models

And finally, Bobby Heugel: For some his name may not mean much. But for those that do know it I am sure they agree with me that he is a hero and a role model. Just watch his BCB session from 2018 and learn why I – and so many other hardcore professionals – are fans.

And that’s important as our industry needs heroes and role models. These people can be people we admire as they are so unlike us yet have qualities we aspire to (like Ms Raducanu for me). Or they can also be people we aspire to be as they are similar to us and thus give us hope that we too can be like them. I am sure we all have people in our lives and industry like that. One of the joys of being Education Director for BCB Berlin is identifying those people and asking them to come speak and share. And if you don't know such people yet, I hope you see people like Sean Finter, Tiffanie Barriere, Jad Ballout and the other "heroes" who are on our stages or recording virtual sessions - not to surpass others, but to serve others. They and the rest of them are my heroes!