Posts Tagged ‘ICE’

PORTRAITS FROM THE BAR – RICHIE BOCCATO

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Illustration by Jill DeGroff Story by Richie Boccato

My mother, Marlene Boccato, is a native Brooklynite who has traversed the globe several times over and has earned several degrees from various institutions of higher learning. Somewhere along the way she managed to raise a rather reticent and rambunctious young man named Richard
during the 1970’s and 1980’s in New York City. She also happens to be the most independent, humble, and hard-working woman whom I have ever known–with the exception of my grandmother. And both of them are teetotalers. She is the salt of the earth, and a true blue collar veteran of the mean streets of Kings County.

One day during the nascent stages of my career as a barman in some of the world’s most heralded watering holes, I took it upon myself to show her some articles in which I received recognition for my vocational antics. She casually responded with the following remark:

“So you’re a bartender–what’s the big deal?”

The genuine sincerity and honest candor in her voice compelled me to immediately adopt those words as gospel. She was right; it really wasn’t such a big deal. At that moment it became clear to me that my ego was most definitely NOT the most important part of the equation between a thirsty customer standing at my bar and what they would eventually hold in their glass. That sense of importance I may have developed during my brief tenure behind the bar was immediately discarded. Forget the fanfare. I had a job to do. The truth is I should have known better. I started out as a doorman. Take it from me, there is much humility to be learned by standing alone on the sidewalk on many a cold winter’s night checking ID’s. But now I was earning a living trying to make my patrons feel good about parting with their coin in exchange for a fancy drink. If by some chance one or more of those paying customers happened to appreciate their experience to the extent they felt was noteworthy, then so be it–but no need to celebrate.

So that’s what my mother taught me about tending bar. Do a good job, and don’t take yourself too seriously. As for her thoughts on fancy ice cubes–she tells me that she thinks they are “cool.” True story.
– Richard Boccato

Jill DeGroff is the author and illustrator of “Lush Life; Portraits from the Bar”. To see more portraits from the bar, visit her online Rogues Gallery at www.saloonartist.com

FOR VIETNAM’S POOREST, STREETS INTERNATIONAL GIVES THEM A FUTURE

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Hospitality training program turns the streets into a jumping off point for a real career
By Darren Atkins All photos courtesy of Streets International

Recently some of New York’s most celebrated chefs came together at The Astor Center to support Streets International (www.streetsinternational.org), a non-for-profit organization that provides opportunities for Vietnam’s street kids to escape from poverty and destitution, and transition to a life of hope and promising hospitality industry careers.

The third annual Streets event was a lively and delicious evening that brought some joy to the reality that there was a need for such an event. Vietnam, bordered by China to the north and Laos to the northwest, boasts a population of over 86 million people and is the 13th most populous country in the world. Gaining their independence from the Chinese in AD 938, and much later the French, Vietnam has had their fair share of hardships after suffering from prolonged military engagement. However, while the country managed to regain strength and its economic growth there are still casualties of this war torn country; many of them are children and young adults. An estimated 19,000 young people live on the streets of Hanoi alone, many of them suffering from health problems and the ravages of drug abuse and crime.

After witnessing so many young adults struggling with drug dependent and crime infested lives lived out on the streets of Vietnam, the charity’s founder, Neal Bermas PhD, was compelled to do something to effect positive change in their existence. Bermas explains, “This is an 18 month program; it’s quite ambitious. We house, feed and provide medical care for these young adults who come from the streets, orphanages and detention centers. During the course of the 18 months they start out mostly in classroom, with curriculums either in culinary or service

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