In just a few short months, Laura Newman the 2018 World Class US Bartender of the Year will be representing the USBG at the World Class Global Finals sponsored by Diageo in Berlin, Germany.
As she prepares for her journey, we invited her to tell us a little more about herself and her experience.
What first inspired you to enter in World Class?
I'd known about World Class since Ricky Gomez won in 2012. By late 2015 I had entered some local competitions, where I'd gotten good feedback and had a great time. However, these left me wanting more - something that would really push me to my limits as a bartender. While the resumes of the past US winners really intimidated me, I took the plunge and entered World Class for the first time because I saw it as a learning experience; while I didn't expect to win, I knew that I would learn a lot about myself as a bartender, the Diageo Reserve portfolio of brands, and perfect a few new techniques.
What are you doing to get prepped for Global Finals?
I just got back from a long vacation - I know, that sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out: this year, the time between regionals and nationals was reduced by a week, so going from one competition to the next left me feeling really drained. Not thinking about competition at all (well, ok, maybe I thought about it a little) for 2 weeks was refreshing and gave me time to recharge my creative energy. Over the next couple months I have a few R&D sessions lined up with past winners and mentors so I can really dial everything in. Besides that, though, I'm doing what I normally do: setting clear and defined deadlines for my work so that I stay on top of everything, reaching out to friends and mentors to get their takes on challenges and later to get constructive criticism on how I'm approaching the challenges, and diving deep into Diageo brand history and knowledge. At the end of the day, though, I'm trying to be organized and not stress out about it.
What are you looking forward to the most at Global Finals?
Getting to know the new members of the World Class Family! I love the rush I get from competing, but my favorite part of World Class is making new friends that I wouldn't otherwise get the chance to meet. I'm already in an online group for some winners from the Americas and I can't wait to meet them all in person - they're hilarious! While I'm of course also excited for exploring Berlin, competing at the highest level possible for a bartender on a global scale, and hopefully making it past the first elimination round. Those things are all secondary to making new friends and seeing old ones as well!
What do you expect to take away from this experience?
Every time I've competed in World Class, I've learned more about myself as a person and as a bartender. This competition pushes you to do things that you didn't even think were possible. However, I'm really looking forward to getting to know the other competitors. The rush from competing eventually fades, but the friendships I've made doing World Class will last a lifetime.
What have you learned during your World Class experience so far that has helped you get ready for Global Finals?
The phrase I always go back to is "How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time." World Class is a behemoth that requires an almost maniacal degree of organization and willpower to conquer. The more organized I am, the better I perform, no question about it.
Through this process how have you grown as a competitor and a bartender?
I'd like to think that competing in World Class has made me significantly more organized and able to "dial it in" when it comes to creating a tight, focused presentation. The amount of product knowledge that I've gained from competing has made me better able to give my guests the best experience possible. And finally, over the course of three years, my confidence behind the bar has increased tremendously - to the benefit of my presentations in competition and in how I'm able to create memorable experiences for every guest at my bar.
If you win at Global Finals, what drink will you celebrate with?