HomeNewsROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021: received with such Grace

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021: received with such Grace

Firstly, congratulations on taking out Rookie of the Year at the Bartender Magazine, Australian Bar Awards. What does this award mean to you?

Thank you so much, I am absolutely over the moon. The award motivated me to work my hardest creating new drinks and developing my own personalised bartending style. The award to me signifies that hard work really does pay off!
Where are you working now and what is your role here?

I’m currently working at Memphis Slims House Of Blues here in Adelaide South Australia as the Assistant Venue Manager, creating monthly cocktail lists, social media, studying spirits, back of house admin and learning as much as possible along the way, I absolutely love it.
How long have you been bartending for and what inspired you to first step behind the bar?

I started my bartending career in March of 2020 at Maybe Mae. To begin with it was a casual job to make some extra cash, as I was working full time at Woolworths. Working at Maybe Mae came with expectations, my coworkers pushed me to enter competitions and were constantly teaching me new skills. However when Covid struck, I took it as an opportunity to study spirits, cocktails and unique flavour combinations. Through my learning and an amazing team I developed a passion for bartending and ever since I haven’t looked back. 
Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?

My biggest influence from the beginning has been Michael Keogh. He interviewed and then offered me the casual role at Maybe Mae, before taking me under his wing and teaching me his killer bartender ways! 
We worked so well together at Maybe Mae, when he moved to Memphis Slims, it didn’t take very long until I ended up joining the team. We now work beside one another, sharing ideas and creating monthly cocktail lists. He has been my main supporter within my career and I am very grateful for him. 

For novice bartenders looking to take their trade to the next level, as you have, what training programs or resources would you recommend?

Reading books such as ‘Setting the Table’ ,  ‘Imbibe!’ and ‘The Flavour Bible’ taught me so much and assisted me in many of my cocktail creations. I have been lucky enough to be apart of The Blend Scholarship this year,  it’s been such a positive and helpful learning experience. The Blend Scholarship has been extremely rewarding, having the opportunity to meet like minded friends and learn about different techniques and creation within hospitality. Signing up for industry workshops are also such a great learning opportunity and I would recommend them to other bartending novices out there. 

Cocktail competitions, what are your thoughts?
My first cocktail competition, was 2021 was one of the scariest things but also such a good feeling creating my first ever cocktail and submitting it! I think competitions are great, they give you an opportunity to learn so much about different spirits and ingredients you may have not thought about looking into before, they open you up to a whole new part of hospitality. They are also a really proud moment for yourself, you realise the cool things you're capable of doing and I think thats wonderful. I still definitely get nervous entering competitions but it gives you a sense of accomplishment within the industry, hard work = reward!

What do you love about working in the industry?
I have always been unsure about what career path I wanted go down. This industry has given me 

  • Great friends 
  • Knowledge 
  • Amazing opportunities 
  • Major personal growth 
  • A sense of purpose 

I feel as though there is so much room for growth which excites me and drives me to be better and eventually I would love to …. Own my own bar? create my own gin/whiskey? 
What’s been your highlight so far working in the industry?
Theres a few major highlights, getting a phone call from Krystal Hart to inform me I made the top 25 for my first ever competition entry, my first “Tin Shift” at Maybe Mae getting to shake cocktails for the first time, accepting my role at Memphis Slims and of course.. winning Rookie Of The Year. Since starting my career, the whole journey has been a highlight, Im so lucky to have found a career that I absolutely love!

What’s next for Grace?
I still feel as though it’s still so early in my career and there is so much room for growth which is excites me and drives me to be better and continue to learn. Eventually I’d love to own my very own bar and would also love to create my own whiskey or gin. Theres so many legends in the hospitality industry that I look up to such as Evan Strove, Darren Leaney and Shay Chamberlain, each of their careers are so inspiring and it shows me the many different avenues I can go down when it comes to the future. So many open doors and opportunities which is my favourite part about my career currently, the world is my oyster as my parents like to tell me!