14 October 2016
14 October 2016
From the Caribbean to the Dolomites
Santo Domingo, Udine, Corvara: Victor’s travels explained
When I hear it said that mixes weaken rather than strengthen I have to smile. Half Caribbean and half Friulano I am a mix of good humour and determination - just like a cocktail come out well, the ones I love to prepare!
Santo Domingo, Udine, Corvara: a touch of Caribbean sea, a twist of north east Italy and a squeeze of the Dolomites. Just like a cocktail my personal journey has been a vibrant mix of locations, all very different in their own right but which have created a lot of energy and vitality inside of me. Who might I be? Well, my name is Victor Alfonso, I am 25 and I am the new head barman at Hotel La Perla. I was born in the capital of the Dominican Republic, right smack bang in the centre, and then I grew up in a family in Udine with two sisters and a brother. My dream as a kid and as a teenager was to become a professional athlete – and if it had not been for a series of absurd bureaucratic complications I probably would have realised my dream. No, it is not the usual sport of football which would have welcomed me, althought I was not too bad at the beautiful game either. In fact my main sport was weightlifting. Yes, I know that at first sight of my non herculean stature this might prove surprising but in the lightweight categories I excelled, so much so that I won two Italian titles in my category. However to compete for the Italian national team at the age of 17 I needed to have Italian citizenship and this is where my problems started. It seemed an absurdity but try though I might, my Federation even writing to the President of the Republic I was not able to obtain it at the time. So, it was farewell to the competitions, to the gym, and that part of my world which revolved around the sports centre in Udine. My disappointment was great for you see yourself a short step away from realising your dream and then it all blows up in your face. It was hard to take but fortune had it that from the Friuli folk I had learned that it is important never to give in. Therefore I decided to leave home, start to work, yet still studying, and seek to change my life. I started off by washing glasses and my first season in hospitality I did in a camping site in Grado. I was a sort of trainee ‘jolly’ who was able to do most things asked of me. After this I worked in pubs and discos. I also worked in a community for disadvantaged children and youngsters and while there I did the necessary to pass my final school exams. You are certainly asking by this point how I came to finish up at La Perla! Well, the owners of the pub where I worked were friends of Marco and Marco was the head barman at La Perla before me and I must say that I owe a lot, a very lot indeed, to him. It happened that one day, going to see the pub owners, I as always was dressed immaculately in jacket and tie, Marco was also there visiting. A few days later and ‘out of the blue’ Marco telephoned me and asked if I would like to do a season at La Perla under his supervision. I had little if no time at all to make a decision. I accepted the offer and off I went. What an impact for it was a splendidly beautiful season, ten metres of snow and guests galore. I started off by doing room service, first taking water, then wine, and soon after the complete service requirements. I seemed to learn quickly and in no time I had been involved for three seasons. And then happened what happened. Marco, after 17 years of service, and just having had a baby daughter, decided to stay at home to help out his young family. And more besides. Manuel, another longstanding member of staff, and who also was a precious help for me, decided to take a job nearer to home. And the rest? Yes, you have guessed right, the opportunity came for me to take on the management of one of the most prestigious bars in the Dolomites, and not only in the Dolomites for the fame of the bar goes before it much further afield. It is a great responsibilty but as you will know now ‘weights’ have never been a problem for me and I am ready to face the task. If things need to be lifted in any shape or form you can certainly count on me. I hope to be up to the task, especially considering how important this role is, but I am convinced that with the support of Sonja, the Bistrot manager, and of all the other La Perla staff I will continue to be the person I have always been: a reliable hand to arrange glasses and bottles and give out a lot of good humour.