As hospitality venues re-opened their doors last week, we caught up with head bartender Paulo Ferreira, to find out what he’s most looking forward to as Brigade reopens to the public and what makes his job so rewarding.
What’s your background in hospitality?
I wanted to start work from a young age to help my Mum afford the rent, so I took a job in my hometown, Porto, as a bar back. I stayed there for 3 years; I absolutely loved it. I then got an opportunity to come to London and with all the experience I gained in Portugal, I stuck with what I knew best and continued my career as a bartender.
In Portugal, cocktails aren’t a big thing, so it was only in London that I developed a real passion for them. My first job here was in Revolution Clapham High Street as a barback and from there I’ve worked all over the place, including The Roof Gardens, Fu-Manchu, Colbert Corbin & King and Rail House Café.
I then took the role of head bartender and have loved every minute. One day I’d love to have my own cocktail bar.
How did you hear about Brigade and Beyond Food?
I first heard about brigade from a job advert online. I came for a trial and had such a good time – everyone was so welcoming and made me feel so comfortable. The manager at the time explained the concept of Beyond Food to me, a charity that uses food as a catalyst to inspire people of risk at homelessness into employment. I had such admiration and respect for what the charity does, that was the main reason for wanting the job. I took the job straight away and I couldn’t be happier to work in such an amazing team, for a great purpose.
What’s the best part about your job?
It sounds cliché but honestly, it’s being able to give guests an amazing experience, making them feel welcome and relaxed. I’ve never been on a bartender’s training course, everything I’ve learnt has been from previous experience, so I’m eternally grateful for all the tips and tricks that past colleagues have shown me. I love to share my knowledge with my team at Brigade and newcomers – it’s what this industry is all about.
How do you see the restaurant industry changing in the future, post-COVID?
If I’m totally honest, I’m not sure! The pandemic has raised a lot of questions for our industry and it’s been extremely tough on a lot of people, however I like to stay optimistic and think that eventually things will return to ‘normal’. There’s lots of exciting projects in the pipeline for Brigade and Beyond Food, so watch this space!
How do you spend your spare time?
I love travelling; I want to see so much more of the world. When I’m at home, I’m a bit of a nerd. I love to play video games and I’m also a big film fan. And yes, I do make cocktails at home too!
And of course, we must ask you – what is your favourite cocktail?
That’s a tough question! I have quite a few favourites, but it’s probably got to be The Last Word. It’s a classic cocktail on our menu, that’s sharp, sweet and boozy. It contains gin, lime juice, cherry liquor and Green Chartreuse (a French liqueur that’s a secret recipe made with herbs and spices and is a whopping 55% vol). Absolutely delicious but not for the faint-hearted!