Found in Translation


I arrived at Restaurante Martín Berasatégui at 8:35am like I’ve been doing for the past two months or so and expected to go about my daily routine: change into chef whites, report to morning station in pastelería (that morning it was chocolate tempering) and then help clean before staff lunch. However after I finished tempering chocolate I was summoned by Joseba.

“Martín quiere que tu traduzcas.” (“Martin wants you to translate.”)

“Que?” I wondered to myself in the escalating, interrogative tone of bewilderment.

Suddenly Eugenia, one of Martín’s PA’s, took my arm and sat me in the center of the kitchen, at the ‘King Arthur’s table’, next to Martín, across from two smiling Dutch men, Ronald Giphart and Jan Bartelsman, a writer and a photographer.

“Cómo?” I repeated to myself, this time my inner-voice an octave higher.

Turns out the two gentleman were here to feature Martín in a magazine spread and of all people in the restaurant, somehow I was selected to translate the [recorded] dialogue between the four of us. iHostia!

Flabbergasted. “Yo?”

Apprehensive. “Pero…”

The [emotional] butterflies fluttered but quickly fleeted as Martín began to recount his journey, commencing with his upbringing in the family bodegón. The more I listened, the more intently I listened. With each translation I made, I found myself enamored, pride, loyalty and affection sizzling within me. He smiled even as he spoke of his greatest fear, shouldering the responsibilities of running a restaurant at age 20 to support his family, an uncanny, mature expression, perhaps you can only exhibit once you have experienced all the hardships he has. The emotion he exhibited as he continued was incomparably profound. He explained his credo of never dwelling on the past, that you must learn from the past and move on to greater, more important things. As for the future, he doesn’t try to plan everything before it happens. While he admits we all must adapt to the changes we face in the world, such as the recent economic downturn, it seems his continued success is a result of having maintained his principles of integrity, hard work and respect for others.

I learned so much about my chef and mentor not only from the experiences he shared in that hour but moreso from the way he told his story, noting his countenance, his cadence, his demeanor, his poise. Que rico. iGarrote, Martín!


One thought on “Found in Translation

  1. Pingback: Una Biblioteca Electrónica « Tracy Chang

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