Venetian in Las Vegas in January 2008.
Travels to European poker tournaments
whetted his appetite for fine food.
But in 2010, “poker wasn’t doing that
well for me,” Bari confesses. “Between
2008 and 2010, I probably lost over
$200,000 between backing myself in
tournaments and backing other people
and a few bad investments.” He’d also
started dating Allison DeVincentis, the
younger sister of a high school friend
from a warm Italian-American family.
“I had the idea [for the school] before
I started dating her,” Bari says. “She
encouraged me to do it. Now she helps
more with the business; initially it was
more my brother Taposh. She’s Italian;
In May 2011, Bari won more than
$200,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock
Café in Hollywood, Florida, leading to his
entry in the World Series of Poker event
in Las Vegas that June. “Until I won that
tournament, I didn’t have enough money
to invest,” he says. In November 2012, he
tweeted his plan to attend culinary school
and open a restaurant.
The pace was to be intense: culinary
classes by day, restaurant-management
school five nights a week, poker on
weekends. But another AC visit changed
all that. Food poisoning landed him in the
hospital. “I got sick just at the right time,”
he says. “If I’d gotten sick two or three
days later, I would have lost $10,000 in
tuition instead of a $300 deposit.”
Deciding he didn’t need a culinary
degree, he stayed with the restaurant
management program, graduating in 2013.
Since running a restaurant would have
taken more time than he was prepared to
give, he created a modern, comfortable
cooking studio in a residential building
overlooking Hoboken’s 14th Street Viaduct.
Allison handles social media and some-
times introduces the chef.
Bari estimates that 30 to 40 percent of
his classes sell out, including a recent sea-
sonal cooking lesson with Justin Antiorio
of Anthony David’s and Bin 14 in Hobo-
ken, and a Parisian Bistro couples class. A
farmer’s market theme, though, was a bust.
“I can’t live off my poker winnings
for the rest of my life,” Bari admits. The
school “is a profitable business and, at
the same time, I think I’m doing some-
thing positive for the community. I’m
providing about 15 part-time jobs. It feels
good to provide that. If my business frus-
trates me, I can step back a little bit and
play more poker. It’s a good balance.”
Bari expects to compete this summer at the 2016 World Series of Poker in
Vegas. But as for Hudson Table, he says,
“This is my future. The more you realize
how much crap is going in people’s food,
the more you realize the only real way to
control what’s going into your stomach is
if you create it.” ;
Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco lives in Leonia and has fond childhood memories of
watching the men and women in her family play nickel-and-dime poker after festive
meals. Her website is macfusco.com.
child will learn
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