International Day for Women in Maritime, 18th May 2023

International Day for Women in Maritime, 18th May 2023

On the occasion of the upcoming International Day for Women in Maritime day, 18 May, we spoke with Chief Cook Katherine Lancanan, who started as a trainee at our Oceanic Hospitality Training Centre and now she is a Chief Cook onboard merchant vessel.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to work at sea?

Working at sea has given me a sense of purpose and fulfilment that I never thought possible. As I gained more experience working at sea, I discovered that there are many opportunities for professional development and training. I learned new skills and gained valuable knowledge that helped me advance in my career. I also met many experienced seafarers who shared their wisdom and insights with me, which further inspired me to pursue a career at sea.

How did you become a Chief Cook?

It was a tough decision to leave the cruise line company, but I knew that I had to adapt to the changing times. The pandemic had hit the industry hard, and it was uncertain when things would go back to normal. I had always been passionate about cooking, and I didn’t want to give up on my dreams.

I started working as a messwoman on cargo/tanker vessels, which was a whole new experience for me. The work was challenging, and I had to learn how to manage my time efficiently. But I loved being at sea, and the crew members were friendly and supportive. As time went by, I gained more experience in the kitchen and learned new recipes from different cultures. My hard work paid off when I got promoted to be a Chief Cook. It was a proud moment for me, knowing that my dedication and perseverance had led me to this position.

What do you love about your job?

Cooking is not just a job for me, it’s a passion. I love experimenting with different ingredients and creating new dishes that tantalize the taste of my crew members. It gives me immense satisfaction when they appreciate my work and come back for seconds.

But what makes this job even more special is the opportunity to travel to different countries and experience their culture through their food. It’s amazing how food can bring people together, even if they don’t speak the same language. Sharing a meal with someone is a universal language that transcends all barriers.

I feel grateful for this job that allows me to combine my love for cooking with my passion for travel. It’s an adventure that I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world.

Please tell us how do you find the process of preparing meals for crew from different nationalities?

As a cook, I always strive to create dishes that cater to the diverse tastes and preferences of my crew. Preparing meals for different nationalities requires a deep understanding of their culture, traditions, and culinary practices. It’s not just about cooking the right ingredients but also presenting them in a way that appeals to their senses.

Preparing meals for different nationalities is an exciting experience as it allows me to explore new flavours and techniques. It’s a great opportunity for me to expand my culinary knowledge and skills with help of proper menu planning and recipes.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

It’s a bittersweet feeling to be away from my loved ones for extended periods of time. On one hand, I miss them terribly and wish I could be there for all the important moments in their lives. But on the other hand, I know that my job is providing for them and giving them opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise. The feeling of accomplishment and pride in what I do is indescribable. Knowing that my efforts have contributed to our financial stability and allowed us to live comfortably is incredibly rewarding.

Tell us about a memorable moment from your time at sea?

Meeting and working with people from different backgrounds has allowed me to broaden my perspective and gain a deeper understanding of the world around me. It has taught me to appreciate diversity and embrace differences, while also finding common ground and building meaningful connections.

Through these experiences, I have learned that communication is key in any relationship, whether it be personal or professional. By actively listening and seeking to understand others’ perspectives, I have been able to foster positive relationships with people from all walks of life.

Meeting and working with different people has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. It has allowed me to grow as an individual while also making a positive impact on those around me.

What is your favourite recipe?

I may not have a specific favourite recipe, but I appreciate the diversity of cuisines and the unique flavors they offer. Exploring different signature dishes is an exciting way to broaden my culinary horizons and learn more about different cultures.

Have you ever felt that being a female cook obstructed you from employment?

There have been times when I have been overlooked for job opportunities simply because of my gender. It can be frustrating to feel like my skills and experience are not being taken seriously because of something that is out of my control.

However, I refuse to let these obstacles hold me back from pursuing my passion for cooking. I have worked hard to develop my skills and build a strong network within the industry.

Based on your experience, do you feel that there is limited potential of employment of female cooks on board cargo vessels?

The shipping industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and women have faced various challenges in accessing employment opportunities in this sector. Moreover, the working conditions on board cargo vessels can be challenging and demanding, which may deter some women from pursuing careers as cooks or other crew members. However, there are efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion in the shipping industry, including initiatives to recruit and train more female seafarers. These efforts could help to increase the potential for employment of female cooks on board cargo vessels in the future.

How do you see the forthcoming future for female seafarers?

Continuous equal opportunity for both genders in maritime industry.

What advice can you give to other females who wish to become a Chief Cook or join a career at sea?

Just stay focused on your goals and never let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dreams. Hard work, determination, and perseverance are key to achieving success in this industry.

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