POLISH PRIDE! – Tomek Malek Interviewed

Updated: October 1, 2008
From starting out competiting in his first Flair bartending competition straight from work with no sleep. no routine and no plan to winning Nations 2008… Mr. Tomek Malek. Between him and Marek they are helping put Poland on the Flair map in more ways then one. Now in the pages of Flairbar.com, we get to know a little more about Tomek with “Polish Pride!” as he shares with us his insights on the world of Flair bartending… So sit back, relax and indulge in a Skyy Vodka, Midori, X-Rated or Finest Call cocktail and enjoy…

Age? 23.

Where are you from? I’m from Warsaw Poland.

How Long have you’ve been Bartending? I have been bartending for 5 years.

And Flair Bartending? I have been practicing from the beginning of my bartending history now its around 4.5 years.

Where do you work? I work in my own bartending agency FLAIRFACTORY here in Warsaw.

What got you into Flair Bartending? My friends from evolutionbar got me into bartending, 5 years ago I started to work in one of the best Polish clubs at that time called “EGO”, I was very lucky because the whole team were Flair bartenders. As soon as I saw Michael Kosnik rolling a bottle along his right hand during work, I was hooked.

How did you start out learning to Flair? All by myself, the beginning was very hard – no movies, no teachers, after the first six months the guys from evolutionbar started to show me some new  moves, afterwards first show, first comp and … here I’m :-)

FBC_TMalek_quote1Tell us about the Flair Bartending scene in Poland and Poland’s presence in major FBA comps the last year? The Polish Flair scene is developing very rapidly thanks to IFL comps – there are two divisions – the juniors and pro and so the young bartenders have a chance to compete and take part in professional comps. We also have a few bartenders who regularly compete in international comps. FBA has started to support more comps in Europe, so Poland’s interest in FBA comps has increased. However, we still don’t have FBA comps in Poland, let’s hope it’s going to change soon. About  our presence in last year – we made only two FBA comps – Nations ( Marek took 4th  place!) and Flair Castle in Ukraine – I took 9th place.

Describe to us your style of Flair? It’s best to ask others about my style – the judges, bartenders or the audience.  I try to be as original as possible and constantly improve the difficulty of my tricks.

FBC_TMalek_sm4What makes you stand out from other Flair Bartenders? I think I don’t stand out from the others, I try to practice as much as I can and prepare well for comps.

What do you hope to get out of Flair? Great fun, see new places and meeting a lot of new people.

What is your favorite Flair Bartending competition and why? It’s very difficult to say, every single one is different and has good and bad sides but if I need to choose  – Roadhouse – for the best crowd and great history, Nations – u know why…:-), IFL – because its in my city and all of my family and friends are in the house.  I love comps where the practice area is set up in the proper way.

FBC_TMalek_Nations08Who do you look up to in this Sport? Whoooooaa many guys… so at the beginning when I started to watch some movies I saw Delpeche Bros, Nicolas, Francesco Leoni, Big Mig those guys changed my  life… I mean my point of view on Flair :-) Afterwards when I started to compete against : Wladimir, Tom, Rafa, Seb, Adriano, Danilo, I was like whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Where those guys come from? How long they practice to be so good and original???… those days showed me that I need to practice much much more , I also look up to Benham for his great attitude and originality, Strech for awesome showmanship, Marek for his sick moves, Andrea for his crazy breakdance stuff, and many many more.

Why did you compete in Nations 2008? Why? Because it’s in Vegas!  and competitors come from all over the world!

Last year I took part in Nations 2007 and I really liked the comp organization and technical level. But unfortunately I didn’t get into the final and it motivated me to practice more and compete in Nations 2008.

Tell us about your experience at Nations 2008? Nations 2008 was the most difficult comp I’ve ever taken part in, after having read the list of participants, I was really hoping I would make it into the final, it was my aim. After the first day I was very surprised that I managed to get to the second place in the qualifying round. On the second day, I was focused only on the six minutes of the final, I wanted to do them as quickly and as clean as possible. Right up to the announcement, I was expecting fifth or sixth position, so I was extremely surprised when I heard I had won!

FBC_Video_ButtonWhat were your thoughts going into the event and then after they announced your name as the overall winner? Those were the best moments in my bartending career and made that the 5-year training was worth something!

How often do you practice? I try to practice 5 – 6 hours every day, before competitions that time doubles. Unfortunately, because of my work at Flair Factory, it’s not always possible.

FBC_TMalek_quote2How do you structure your practice time? I try to have a ready routine two weeks before the comp and repeat it as many times as I can. If I do the show 100 – 150 times, I know I’m ready. On a daily basis, I try to come up with my new moves, update the last ones and practice a lot of Working Flair because its important for my work. Twice a week (if we not busy to much) we practice our tandem with Marek.

What is your advice to some of the new people wanting to compete in Flair bartending competitions in Poland? I’d advice them to compete in IFL comps, they’re really professionally organized and the Polish crowd goes crazy during hard moves. Come over and I guarantee that Polish after-parties are wild!







FBC_TMalek_sm2What is your advice to some of the new people wanting to compete in major FBA Flair bartending competitions? Practice, practice, practice, and read rules many times over.

Tell us about your relationship with MAREK POSLUSZNY? We’re good mates which makes working together much easier. We met four years ago during a small competition in southern Poland, Marek beat me in rookie division. After 2 – 3 years, at the huge party when we both were drunk we started to flip bottles and tins together. We had so much fun that next day we decided to perform as a tandem and since then we’ve done almost 300 shows together all over Europe. We also work together in our bartender agency FLAIRFACTORY and we’re opening the first Flair school in Warsaw – it’s going to be big!!







Who should we keep an eye on next for Team Poland? Definitely Marek Posluszny. We also have Marcin Osypinski (he have been practicing almost 8 years!) now he is planning on competing abroad next year. Also our girl tandem – Martyna and Ania, guys from Szczecin – Marcin Lozinski, Krakow – Marcin Dabek and soon look out for some new FLAIRFACTORY juniors! A and Krzysztof Drabik – better known as James Bond is also a good one here in Poland.

What’s next for Team Poland? Now we want to focus on European competitions – Roadhouse in London, Bacardi Pro Flair in Moscow and Havana Club in Cologne. Together with Marek Posluszny, we are currently taking part in the Polish edition of Got Talent and we are in the semi-finals so check out our website for fresh news!

Tell us about your first Flair Bartending Competition and your experiences there. What were you feeling, Did everything go as planned? My first Flair Bartending Competition was 4 years ago in Bielsko-Biala, in southern Poland. I competed in the rookie division, there were 7 competitors, including 3 girls and Marek Posluszny… It was also his first comp.

The competition was at noon, I had finished work at 8 in the morning and straight after work I went to the competition place, we had a bottle of whisky, I got up from the table and went to perform… I hadn’t prepared a routine beforehand so you can imagine what it was like! I can’t remember anything from the stage but I think I broke the world record in breakages, drops and spills. I came fifth out of 7 in the rookie division. This experience got me thinking and changed my approach to a more serious one – I won the next comp in the rookie division.

FBC_TMalek_quote3What is the hardest thing about competing on stage and being a Flair bartender? The problem is that there aren’t many Flair bars in Poland and we only have 4 professional comps. I think the biggest difficulty – at least at the beginning – is raising money for international comps. Marek and I were lucky to have found a sponsor pretty quickly – Sobieski. It’s also challenging to find enough time for practicing, for work and for family and friends. The biggest problem is just before the most important comps when practice time takes about 10 – 12 hours a day!

If you could help influence Flair to change our sport somehow, what would it be and why? I would try to reach young bartenders in all parts of the world and offer them opportunities to practice. I would shoot a new version of Cocktail because Tom Cruise has old-school stuff :-) It would be good if Flair was more popular on TV, if there were more TV shows dedicated to it (in Poland alcohol commercials are banned). The last thing, I would throw in even more money for prizes at comps.








FBC_TMalek_sm3What are your thoughts on Flair bartending and how it is being judged in major Flair comps? There is always someone who’s complaining after every comp about the unfair judging.(Team Poland never – this is our small deal with Marek) In my opinion, judging in FBA is at a very high level. It’s important that all local comps are organized with the help of one of the Flair bartending associations FBA or WFA. It’s the only option to ensure that the results are fair. A few years ago there were competitions in Poland which had diplomas with the names of the winners printed out the day before!

What are your plans now? For now, I’m focusing on my work at Flair Factory and on practicing for the next few months, we’ve got some major comps ahead of us. I just got my MA at the Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw. Looking into the future, I would like to work in a professional Flair bar, maybe in Vegas… :-)







What obstacles do you see our sport of Flair Bartending encountering in the near future and in your opinion, how can we overcome them? The biggest obstacle that I now notice in Poland and some other European countries is the bill which bans alcohol sponsorship at mass events. In the future, it might be a problem at organizing competitions.

What do you think is the next step to continue the growth of our sport of Flair bartending? We should try to make Flair more accessible and popular, and try to decrease the admission fees at comps.

How is it different competing in American Flair bartending competitions then Flair bartending competitions elsewhere? The main difference is the jet lag – if you don’t have at least a day to deal with it then it might have a negative impact on the performance. It’s hard for me to talk about competing in American Flair bartending competitions as I’ve only taken part in two of them in Las Vegas and both were a big thing for me! The organization is amazing.

What is Flairfactory? Flair Factory is the first bartending agency in Poland – we focus on Flair training courses, bar catering, consulting, Flair shows, bartending workshops. Flair Factory offers a new standard in bar service in Poland, we have our own professional, mobile bars with professional bartenders and the best shows in the country. On our website, there is a large photo and video gallery updated after every comp we take part in. We try to have the newest results from all international competitions so check us out!

What is your favorite drink?  It depands of the day, When I’m going to the party I choose – cuba libre or raspberry caipirinha for beginning, vodka shots in the middle and vodka shots at the end… Na Zdrowie !

At the End I would like to say a big thanks to all my friends who helped me during last few years of competing – Wladimir, Big Mig, Benham, Terri, Andy, Tug, Jim Allison, Patryk Le Nart (owner of msbis – bartending school in warsaw), Gregor Zieba, Michal Rembecki, Marcin Lukasiewicz, Ati Tadesco (thanks one more for photos:) and four of my friends who changed my life… EVOLUTIONBAR TEAM – THANKS FOR ALL!!!



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