Feeding the Fleet: Cooks in the Belgian Merchant Marine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Preparing food has always been a crucial element in the maritime industry as crews needed to be fed at regular intervals. Moreover, during the second half of the nineteenth century, the emergence of steamships challenged the traditional system of catering on board. The kitchen staff grew with the size and complexity of new vessels, not in the least due to the growth of passenger transport. However, cooks are often neglected as a professional group in maritime historiography, even though their work was essential for both crews and passengers. To uncover how maritime labour was subject to change when ships became more advanced and complex workplaces, there is a growing consensus among scholars to incorporate understudied labour groups. The paper aims to examine how developments in the maritime industry affected the profession of cook in terms of working methods and status, while analysing their profiles provides more insights into geographical backgrounds, ages and career prospects. In sum, this paper makes the intersection between changes in the maritime industry and its impact on maritime labour more explicit.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Transformation of Maritime Professions
Subtitle of host publicationOld and New Jobs in European Shipping Industries, 1850-2000
EditorsKarel Davids, Joost Schokkenbroek
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-27212-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-27211-0, 978-3-031-27214-1
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Feeding the Fleet: Cooks in the Belgian Merchant Marine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this