We spoke with Martin Hudák who was a champion of „World Coffee In Good Spirits“ in 2017. He was born in Prešov in Slovakia.
Martin graduated with a chef diploma but didn’t like kitchens so he started to work behind the bar when he was really young, immediately after graduating from secondary school (10 years ago).
He started to work in a coffee shop that was a cocktail bar at the same time so he discovered quickly that he wants to do both at all times.
We attended his seminar on this year Convent Bar Berlin and it was one of the funniest that we’ve ever been to. He spoke about many interesting things and really knows how to approach people.
Did the opportunity to work at The Savoy’s American bar opened your mind and influenced your professional career?
Savoy taught me one thing. It’s hospitality. Before that, I understood coffee, I understood cocktails, recipes… But Savoy taught me how to behave, how to be a gentleman and how to take care of people.
What should a bartender know and how should he present himself to become a senior bartender in the Savoy?
Many people ask me how to get a job in the Savoy. It is not the classy cocktails, it’s not how you’re gonna shake, it’s English language. You need to be very good with your English. You’re gonna work in 130-years old bar based in England, a place where the Queen is coming and all the royalty. After that, your knowledge about classy drinks and about the place where you gonna work. So, study English, learn the classics and know the place!
My English was very bad in the beginning. I was going to school every Tuesday for a year and I was learning English. And now, I can do the accent if you want! (ha-ha)
I have heard on your seminar that you were trying to become a Champion again for the 7th year. Didn’t that make you tired?
It is very tiring. Many people give up after 1 or maybe 2 years. But 7? You really need to know what you want to achieve in your life. And I knew from the day one, I want to be the guy who is gonna combine coffee and cocktails and gonna make them work together.
I need to win this competition to convince the brand’s industry (and everybody else) that I am able to do it. So that’s why I was working hard till the point I wanted. Now I can travel around the world and show everybody how coffee cocktails can make beautiful combination.
Many people are running to London, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and now when you have it all, you ran away from it and went to Australia.
Last year in July I won the „World Coffee In Good Spirits“ and in November we became the best bar in “The World’s 50 Best Bars“. After that point I realized that I achieved everything I could and there is no another step up that I can do. I left at the right time: at the peak of the mountain where we are at top of the game.
I left without any regret only because I want to show everybody around the world that it doesn’t matter if you’re white, if you work at the Savoy… The only thing that matters is who you are. I want to prove people that you can fulfill every dream you have anywhere around the world.
So, you need to have really clear vision and just go for it. What was the reason that convinced you to go to Australia?
I have a message for anyone from your country who wants to come to London. You should be ready that you’re gonna lose your money, family, you’re gonna lose hair (as I did, ha-ha) and you’re gonna lose all your time. London is great for career, professional career but it’s not good for life.
Outside of work I didn’t have a social life. I had a working life. The reason behind going to Australia is to be more focused on my family, health, happiness and at the same time to be able to run a new business in the country which has more opportunities than London.
And what’s your favorite cocktail when you don’t drink coffee cocktails?
Every cocktail in my glass. (laughing)
What can we expect from you in the future?
I opened my own company for spiritual coffee and roasting my own coffee, doing consulting all around the world, we are opening a bar next month. I’m officially flying to New York and (unofficially) I’m announcing my new job position as a global ambassador for Mr. Black coffee liqueur. It’s a big secret, no one knows. (Only you right now.)
You sure know how to keep a secret (laughing). This article will be published in Croatia this week. What do you think about Croatia?
About you guys all good. Perfect, fantastic, nice people, very friendly, very hospitable. Just focus more on the guest experience. Make guest happy, not yourself. Don’t try to be the best in your town, your country. Be the best for your guest, that’s important. Even if your Negroni is a little bit too watery and maybe even if your Martini is too warm. Doesn’t matter. Make your guests happy!
Thank you for the advice, I hope that our bartenders will use it wisely. I wish you all the happiness and luck in your future business and personal career. Hope to see you in Croatia next time!