Introducing Bruno Luke Ali from Nick & Nora’s Parramatta

I started in the industry back in Leeds, England working as a chef in a few kitchens before being offered a management role with a bar group which was run by the guys behind Portobello Road Gin, working in their Mexican bar ‘Cielo Blanco’. I fell in love with hospitality and the service industry working long hours with a team that felt more like family than colleagues.

I came to Sydney having heard that it was one of the best hospitality industries. I worked in a few places before finding out about the Speakeasy group and I fell in love with everything they stand for. I was lucky enough to interview for Nick & Nora’s in Parramatta and I must have impressed someone because I got the role of Assistant Manager to James Carlin (the former Venue Manager). James took me under his wing mentoring me and before I knew it was asking me if I would be interested in becoming venue manager.

One of the first things I heard about Speakeasy was the Ananas Academy, the training and focus on knowledge and history is something I have always strived for but it was always considered extra-curricular to find a company where it is the focus was a dream come true. I would find like-minded staff and managers who would strive to gain better scores on tests and really push each other with our knowledge.

Hospitality is life changing, I imagine much like the military – it’s a shared experience that is universal. Hospitality veterans recognise each other and are different from other people. I always say that hospitality should be a public service because it teaches life skills that you can’t get in any other field of work, Kindness, patience and a work ethic that is legendary.

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The COVID experience changed my work life. It has made me really look at venue management in a completely different way, responsible sale of alcohol is always at the forefront of anything we do but now responsibility of guest interaction and social distancing is just as much at the forefront. The focus on guest separation and reducing the risk of viral transmission, it feels like something straight out of a sci-fi movie but it’s much more terrifying in practice.

I don’t like the way the hospitality industry isn’t viewed by other people as a real career, everyone has an opinion of how your job should be done especially people who have never worked in the service industry. I have met the most capable hard-working people in this industry and I have met people who have walked out of hospitality to work in offices because they couldn’t keep up the pace.

Life has been on hold during this pandemic and I think the ability to actually make plans is what I am most looking forward to. I had intended to visit family back home but the UK is still a mess and I imagine when restrictions are lifted here it might be another six months or so before the UK is restriction free.

Where will I be in the next five years? The answer to this question has changed a lot in the last six months. It’s hard to imagine five months from now, let alone five years, but I know with Speakeasy group my future will be bright and exciting. I have always wanted to build a place from the ground up and I do have some exciting ideas for the future but the industry changes so quickly it is constantly evolving. My three brothers are some of the hardest working chefs around and I would love to get something started with them.

I think if I could drink with anyone it would be Ryan Reynolds mostly because he started in hospitality and I would be interested to know if he is different because of his time working in restaurants. I would probably be drinking a Sazerac or Boulevardier; definitely something classic.

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