In 2001, her family relocated to the United States, and at a very young age, she started cooking at a Miami restaurant owned by one of Caracas’ most renowned chefs. There she went from loving food to loving the food industry: the pace and adrenaline of a busy service, the balance of colors, textures and flavors and the limitless combinations possible. She knew she wanted to be a chef—to develop the discipline, focus, and skills.
After traveling, living, and working in Europe for a year, studying cuisine at the root; and graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management (and a minor in wine technology), she rocketed from career achievement to achievement, including, at age 22, taking on the mantle of Executive Chef and taking a Beijing restaurant to #1 in the city for three consecutive years.
Ana is responsible for the quality of the food program, and the galley staff, aboard our ships. But it is her innovation that we’re celebrating here.
Inspired by the lush beauty of the land while aboard our ships in Galápagos, Ana reached out through a connection to the Minister of Agriculture, and went with a team to visit some farmers. She formed relationships, and subsequently launched a farm-to-table program in the islands, that has gained wide positive recognition, including from the Galápagos Minister of Agriculture, for provisioning more than 30 tons of organic and local produce for our two expedition ships over an 18-month period.
On the culinary side, the program has helped Ana and her team design menus with a focus on wellness, including healthier options and taking advantage of Andean superfoods native to Ecuador, including cocoa nibs, Amaranth, Quinoa, Maca root, chucho, and other natural ingredients.
Ana’s local, sustainable focus extends to the beverage menu as well, as the ships now feature a wide selection of Ecuadorian artisanal beers–Endemica, produced in small batches on San Cristobal island—making Lindblad Expeditions the first cruise company to serve local craft brew.
But the Galapagos program is just the beginning of our Farm-to-Table initiative. Ana has leveraged our long-term relationship with a hydroponic farm in the Falkland Islands, and is eying possibilities in Costa Rica, the Arctic and more. Ana approaches her work with incredible passion and detail and is always searching for creative ways to whet our guests' appetites. It is for those reasons and many more that she recently earned a well-deserved promotion to Vice President of Hotel Operations.
An expedition travels on its stomach, and Ana lives to feed the expeditionary spirit in all of us. We celebrate her drive to make an impact, to create memorable experiences, and to play with people’s emotions (in a good way) as she takes them on incredible voyages—through food.