Originally from Pokhara, Ajit Gurung, 23, has been engaged in food & beverage industry in Hong Kong for the past six years. Currently he is the bar manager at Stockton. He is voted ‘The Rising Star 2017’ by The Bar Awards Hong Kong, which is awarded for the best bartender aged 25 years or below. He is also recognized to be among the top 25 Honk Kong bartenders for 2017.
In an email interview with My City, Ajit Gurung shared his six-year journey as a bar manager in Hong Kong.
What inspired you to be in this profession and why have you chosen it?
To be honest, it was only supposed to be a part-time job when I had started but once I entered the food & beverage industry (mainly bartending), I wanted to carry on with it. It was certainly because I enjoyed opportunities of meeting new people and making new friends every day. I love my work and having the chance and means to learn people’s diverse feelings and moods is quite amazing.
What are the qualities one should have to be a bartender?
Be yourself and be hospitable. People trust a bartender more than they trust their therapists. Since you are the person that your guests count on, you should try your best to be counted upon. As an experienced and knowledgeable person you should hone your skills and abilities to maintain proper coordination. It is important to always treat the people who come to your bar or restaurant as guests not customers.
What life lessons have you learned in this profession?
You meet people and read them -- all sorts of people regardless of their status, culture, age, gender -- and that is like getting a closer view of the world. I think I have learned to be always humble even when you are at the top and always have faith and hope in yourself even when you are at your lowest.
What can one expect being in this profession and what are the challenges? And how do you cope with those challenges?
The most difficult challenge would be socializing with your friends and family. Of course, you socialize with new people every day but to make time for your own family and friends would be a tough job as you work different hours when you are engaged in the hospitality industry. It’s tough but if one has the passion; one can enjoy working even at odd hours. It’s all about time management and cherishing the moment you spend with your family even if it’s short and limited at times.
Any memorable incident with Nepali drinks that you would like to share?
I remember we were in the middle of trekking Poon Hill and we were drinking Khukuri Rum that night while watching the final match of the English Premier league 2012 when Manchester City won the league on that night at the very last minute. I lost a bet with friends since I’m a huge Manchester United fan. I hated that night but loved the memories though.