A day in the life of our head barman

Guardian of the legendary Claridge’s bars, Denis Broci tells his story.

Devoted to the team

“This is my passion”

“My children are everything,” says Denis Broci, “but sometimes I think I spend more time with my team here at Claridge’s than I do with my family! It’s OK, though, my wife Sandrine and my boys Aiden and Matti understand that this is my passion.”

Denis has traced his family back to Turkey via Montenegro and finally Albania, where his great grandfather was one of four brothers who ran the third-largest ship on the cross-Adriatic trade route with Italy.

 A London journey

“As good a set of challenges as anyone could wish for”

After starting work in one of his uncle’s restaurants, Denis came to London to work in hospitality, with only the determination to be the best at whatever he turned his hand to.

His London journey took him from working at a leading hotel, to being part of an events team supplying the House of Commons.

Denis then started to explore the relationship between food and drink, running the bar of a Michelin-starred restaurant at what was the tallest building in London before the Shard, the 42-storey NatWest Tower.

From there he worked with a veritable Who’s Who of leading bars and chefs across London, developing new skills and concoctions to test on all their willing clientele. It was, he says, as good a set of experiences and challenges as anyone could wish for.

Blending and developing the team

“You get the feeling that Denis was always destined for Claridge’s”

Even when he worked elsewhere, Denis would pop in for a drink, chat to the staff, have a look around and feel the unique buzz of the space and the people. That led to an ongoing conversation about joining the Claridge’s team, and five interviews later he became an assistant manager. Natural succession as the strongest candidate took him to his current role.

Since he became head barman, he has carefully blended and developed the team of 18 staff who look after both the bars at Claridge’s.

Each bar has a unique character that he must nurture and maintain: the main Claridge’s bar is a haven for movers and shakers, where guests enjoy world-class champagnes and sought-after spirits and wines, while The Fumoir is more relaxed.

 Reinventing the classics

“He believes that great bars are not stuck in the past”

A word that sums up Denis is focus. He believes that great bars are not stuck in the past – they reference and embrace their heritage, but must evolve and challenge too. He loves new ways of reinventing the old and the classic, and creating experiences that are moulded to today’s palette.

But it is not all work and no play for this most focused and disciplined of men. The proudest moments, and what he believes to be the finest achievements of his life, are firstly his marriage to Sandrine, his French-born wife. Then becoming a proud father to two beautiful and much loved sons.

And after an energetic week at Claridge’s, his heart and mind are all about his regular and sacred Saturday morning swim with his boys.

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