The future is yours to create: Maite Cabrera
Our sixth bartender in our series is Chile’s Maite Cabrera. Currently travelling around Europe, Cabrera talks about constantly learning, why a fair wage matters, and having a legacy of making bartending fun
A little bit about me
I am 28 years old, I’m from Chile and I’ve always been interested in everything around food and beverages.
I wanted to study gastronomy, but my family didn’t let me, so I ended up studying psychology. Years later, when I was in university, I started in a bartending school in the mornings and after I finished a masters in clinical psychology, I focused only on bartending. I have studied by myself with books and online, as well as with other bartenders who have kindly helped me.
My favourite thing about my job is that I am always learning. I find it fascinating, all the things that can be done with different ingredients, temperatures, colours, textures, etc. I also like the fact that I’m active and always interacting with people and other bartenders.
“Wanting to be great and better in things that I love to do is something that I really seek out.”
I’ve always wanted to be very good at everything that I do. I think that learning and the need to be better is something that has been part of me since I was little. I’ve always been an athlete and wanting to be great and better in things that I love to do is something that I really seek out and put a big effort into accomplishing. I really love to learn and try to find people who can teach me to grow.
How I approach my work
I love to make delicious and creative cocktails for people who want to have a nice time. I think that we are a part of making people happier. That is also something that makes me happy in my daily life: I enjoy helping others, laughing and doing activities where you need to think.
The best advice I’ve ever been given is that it is very important to be willing to learn from everybody: to listen, to watch and to learn. We can learn from anybody and that’s something that I have found to be very true. You don’t have to have diplomas and degrees to be very good at something.
“You don’t have to have diplomas and degrees to be very good at something.”
Education is fundamental for me – from books, from fellow bartenders, from brand ambassadors, from the internet, etc. I hope one day I could be the apprentice in some amazing bar or with a mentor that teaches me, that would be awesome. Travelling is something that I think is very nice too: to see what else is happening in the world, which other ingredients exist, and how else you can prepare them. I am actually doing that now – I left my country two months ago to work in Europe… wish me luck!
I think that paying a fair wage is the basis for employers motivating me to work. I love my job, but I also have to live and want to have a life besides my job. They need to acknowledge that their workers are also people with necessities and personal lives. I also think that giving space and materials to experiment, and to be supportive of the growth and education of the workers is something that I would be grateful for.
My thoughts on mentorship
I really appreciate queer and female bartenders, because I think they represent me and have been through many other things to get to where they are: people like Margarita Sades, Monica Berg, Gina Barbachano, Maura Milia and Amanda Colom. There are also cooks, athletes, and activists who constantly remind me to be creative to master my craft, and to speak my mind.
For me, a role model is someone who, even though they are very good at what they do, is willing to keep learning, and humble and caring in teaching what they do. I think that everyone can have a different role model depending on what they are looking for.
In my country, leaders are improving little-by-little to help the next generation of bartenders and that is great. I have the feeling that the knowledge is being shared and there are more opportunities for everyone to learn more. I hope leaders focus on the people who are not in huge restaurants or big brands but also want to learn and maybe don’t have the opportunities.
My hopes for the future
If I could change one thing about our industry it would be the fact that the likes and followers you have on social media are sometimes the focus more than our work. I like social media, don’t get me wrong, but I think sometimes it is too much.
Being a bartender is still considered a hobby sometimes in my country, not a ‘real job’. It feels wrong and the pay for our job is also as if it were just a hobby. That is something that is changing slowly but steadily.
“I want to empower others to have fun, to be constantly surprised and to be looking for new things to learn constantly.”
Globalisation is making us aware of bartenders throughout the world, which is giving us the opportunity to talk to each other more. Having platforms and articles for bartenders to read what is happening in the industry is something I think that facilitates the growth for new generations, like me.
Someday, I want to be the one teaching. I don’t have the knowledge now but I will, and I want to help other bartenders. I also don’t know how to describe it, but I want to empower others to have fun, to be constantly surprised and to be looking for new things to learn constantly. I’d like to make that my trademark.