Other NJ News

Somerville: N. Bryan Mack, “Chef Behind the Bar” at Verve Bistro, Dies at 46

33c6ba6cece8152672d5_sompixnbryanmack1.jpg
03d6172bc971639c212c_sompixnbryanmack2.jpg
8d02c43ba2a80092d84b_sompixnbryanmack3.jpg
bc83c2dd015ba56ce1b4_sompixnbryanmack4.jpg
33c6ba6cece8152672d5_sompixnbryanmack1.jpg

SOMERVILLE, NJ – N. Bryan Mack, legendary mixologist and “chef behind the bar” at Verve Restaurant, Bar& Bistro, has died at the age of 46.

Mack was the consummate front man,  a dapper dresser, beginning his career at Verve in 2002 with starched shirts, cuff links and silk ties, but lately given over to a themed artistic punk look - modified bearskin hat adorned with welders’ goggles and striped vest. It was an identity that morphed with his growth as a world class mixologist, a creative genius and one of the top barmen in the business, according to longtime friend, owner and proprietor of Verve, Rick St. Pierre.

The hat and googles now adorn the corners of the bar, connected by a continuous line of white candles;  his  tools are displayed at the center of the bar with black bunting draped across the back of the bar.

Sign Up for E-News

Mack was made for Verve, and Verve was made for him.

He came to Verve after working at Stage Left, a sophisticated restaurant and bar in New Brunswick's theater district where he was a chef and sommelier.

Mack was most comfortable and at home working behind Verve's classic turn-of-the-century bar where the first legal drink was served in Somerville following Prohibition. A former speakeasy, the century-old building was his world, his stage, where his boundless creativity was embodied in the carefully-crafted cocktails that defined him and Verve.

“He redefined and re-created the Verve brand, from being not just a French bistro with bar and wine list. It became a bistro with personality and individual expression of style, it was his creative platform,” St. Pierre said.

He was, according to a memoriam written by family and friends, “a unique spirit that lit up this world like no other.”

Rev. Ron Pollock will preside at a celebration of his life on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 11 a.m.at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 158 West High St.

The service will also include music and remembrances of Mack, with family and friends returning to Verve, 18 E. Main St., for a Repass that will continue throughout the day.

In keeping with Mack's compassion for the Somerville community, donations in his memory may be made to “Arts on Division,” a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the arts, P.O. Box 220 Somerville, NJ 08876.

Mack lived just three blocks from Verve.

Mack’s persona was infused with the arts, from the meals and signature drinks he created to his original artwork. His art will be on display at St. John’s during the memorial service. He was a graduate of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, attending school on a full scholarship,

“Not to dismiss his paintings – his creations are epic – he transferred that gift of being a fine artist to the craft of food, wine and beverage,” St. Pierre said.

“He had impeccable character and humility and he had this ability to remember the smallest details, what he served you ten years ago or two days ago, he’d always have your drink in your hand before you asked for it,” St. Pierre said.

The self-proclaimed “super beverage geek” Mack spent countless hours studying scientific tricks that he could adapt to his craft. To prep for an Atlantic City cocktail competition, he and a colleague spent days developing a perfectly clear ice cube and “milk washing” their tea and gin cocktail by adding whole milk and lemon to form curds that would suck out the astringency.

He was as good as they come, respected by his peers who revered his creativity and commitment to his craft.

Mack “arrived” on the national scene in 2014, when the National Restaurant Association invited professional mixologists to show off their most creative cocktail talents to vie for the sought-after title of “Star of the Bar.” Entry rules were simple; submit a video showing off a creative cocktail using Casamigo Tequila.

Filmed at the last minute by Unity Cinematic of Somerville, the video featured Mack pouring up a “Carlos Slim” which is a variation of the Classic Billionaire Cocktail. Named after one of the wealthiest men in South America, the cocktail is made with Casamigos Reposada, Clove infused Port, fresh lemon juice, and homemade Grenadine. Mack never expected that in a few short weeks, he would be heading to Chicago to compete as one of the six semi-finalists.

“Listen,” Mack said, “I make cocktails. I go in early every day. I do my best, try to be relevant and try to make my guests have an experience they will remember. Those of you that have sat at my bar know that this is a labor of love. I am humbled to be competing against the caliber of professionals at the National Restaurant Association. My 12-stool bar got to the finals. Wish us luck.”

Though he did not win, he was always a winner amongst the loyal legion of Verve friends.

“The first thing you picked up from this guy was that he was deeply, deeply committed,” St. Pierre said.

Mack had an abiding respect for his craft and his fellow mixologists. He was instrumental in organizing the New Jersey chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, and served as its president.

“He was a mentor to so many in this business over the past 30 years, too many to mention by name,” St. Pierre said.

The family statement also included these sentiments:

“We all lost a rare and unique spirit that lit up this world like no other. Norman Bryan Mack painted this world with vibrance and passion from Aug. 17, 1970 through Jan. 9, 2017.

“His artistic and creative journey started as a fine arts student at Mason Gross, Rutgers and led him to his most favorite culinary families at Stage Left and Verve.

“He embraced people from all over and taught each of us how truly unique we all are.  He was the hero in our comic book. 

“Bryan was president of USBG New Jersey, a fierce dresser and the gentlest of giants.

“Bryan is survived by his father, Norman Mack; mother, Patricia Mack, sister, Keri Mack Karmozyn, brother-in-law, John Karmozyn and beloved son Jason DeVries.

“He is also loved by countless friends, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins and puppies.

“To Quote N Bryan Mack:

“Live: Every Moment. “Love: Beyond Words. “Laugh: Everyday.

“Cheers to you Mack, the man who made us all see the light within ourselves. We all love you!”

Mack had been compiling material for a book the past several years, according to St. Pierre, a fusion of art, photography, drink recipes, and his thoughts about hospitality and service. Verve and friends of Mack will complete and publish the book, and present it to the Bartenders’ Guild to use as a non-profit fund raiser, ensuring that his artful legacy continues.  

“He was, and still is the bar man of Verve,” St. Pierre said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.

 

 

Maplewood Police Blotter - Stolen Vehicle in Maplewood Recovered by South Orange Police

July 18, 2018

July 11 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime during the early morning hours, a vehicle was stolen from a residence on the 400 block of Richmond Ave. The vehicle was recovered by the South Orange Police Department the same morning.

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

Free 'Movies in the Park' on July 18 and August 23 in Maplewood

July 16, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Free "Movies in the Park" are planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, August 23, a program hosted by the Maplewood Police Department in conjunction with the Maplewood Recreation Department, the Maplewood Office of Cultural Affairs, SOMA Film Festival and SOMA Municipal Alliance.

The movie on July 18 will be The Incredibles, shown in Dehart Park, ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16, until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_d36e8541b1fb2e142ef9_bobbyvalli_par440_3_dates__11x17

Sat, July 21, 7:30 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, SHORT HILLS

Solid Gold with Bobby Valli at Par 440

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_839567c057b5b1db93e9_bill-boat_504x353_web

Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

River Barge Park & Marina, Carlstadt

Meadowlands Discovery Sunset Eco-Cruise

Green Travel

Fri, July 27, 6:30 PM

Calloway's Restaurant & Bar, Staffordville

Family Promise SOC Fundraiser at Calloway's

Food & Drink Giving Back

Carousel_image_982bc8344531b1a37c85_par_440

Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018

** TUESDAY RALLY IS CANCELLED **

We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

Those Boarded-Up Homes in the West Ward? Newark Has a Plan for Them.

July 19, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - The city is using the power of eminent domain to reduce the number of condemned homes and vacant lots scattered throughout the West Ward.

The redevelopment plan for the West Ward was introduced in 2016 and encompasses properties from the border of Irvington to South 13th Street between South Orange Avenue and 16th Avenue. One of the main goals of the plan is to support new ...

Lawmakers Denounce SCOTUS Nomination at Essex County Courthouse

NEWARK, NJ - State Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin said it was important to support local women’s health organizations at a state level should President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee be approved.

The assemblywoman joined state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, congressional leaders and women's rights groups yesterday at the steps of the Essex County Courthouse ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

NJ Residents Take Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Woolley Home Solutions Building Has Unique Historical Stained Glass Window

July 21, 2018

Have you ever spotted this Stained Glass Window on our building? It's compliments of the first Methodist Church in town. The repairman saw our 1924 Autocar Truck parked outside and created this beautiful piece and installed it in our front window. The church was knocked down years ago and its location is now Walgreen's parking lot.

The church was originally built in 1836 when Maplewood ...

New Plumber Joins the Woolley Home Solutions Team

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Woolley team! Our new plumber, Oscar Buonafina, is an expert plumber with nearly a decade of industry experience serving New Jersey homeowners. He is also a NJ Master Plumber Since 2007. As a military veteran, Oscar truly understands hard work and commitment, and we’re so happy to bring him on board!

"I believe in service to people ...

Maplewood Brings Local Youth to the Governing Table With the Youth Advisory Committee

The Maplewood Township Committee cordially invites diverse student residents of Maplewood who are enrolled in private or public school in grades 8 through 12 to apply to serve on its new Youth Advisory Committee.  In order to continue empowering local youth whose recent advocacy on - gun safety, safe schools, voting rights, immigration, greater institutional equity and inclusion, to name a ...