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Hello, Suomi! Working as a chef in Finland: Ukrainian Irina Chernefa has found it easy to adjust

Irina Chernefa arrived in Finland in July 2022 since her hometown Kirovohrad in central Ukraine was not a safe living environment for her family. Because of the military action, her children couldn’t go to school and she wanted them to have a normal life and a good education. After arrival, Chernefa saw a job advertisement helping Ukrainians to find work.

She applied and the next day she was invited to an interview. She visited the workplace at Santa Claus Holiday Village and the following day, she signed the contract. First, she worked in the hotel cleaning services but now she has started working as a chef in the restaurant.

The biggest challenge?

I haven’t faced any challenges. My work team is full of patient and helpful people. Any time I have a question, they explain everything in detail. Language is a bit of a challenge. There are a few Russian speakers at work and with others I use basic English although I cannot form long sentences. I’m going to learn Finnish because I want to stay in Finland on a permanent basis.

The best thing at work?

Equality and respect among people. Although I live in a new country, new culture and a new workplace, everything has gone surprisingly well. At work the introduction was done well and as a result I understand my tasks.

Your favourite Ukrainian dishes?

Borscht soup which is the most famous Ukrainian dish. Vareniki, the half-moon shaped dumplings boiled in salted water and Salo, consisting of cured slabs of fatback. Salo is part of the national cuisine in Ukraine.

I bring to the work community…

I treat my colleagues like a family. And of course, I bring my professional skills since I have worked as a chef in Ukraine.

The best feedback you’ve received?

My colleagues have praised my hardworking work attitude. It was heartwarming to hear from them that Rovaniemi was waiting for me.

What is the strangest Finnish taste?

I like all Finnish food and our children especially enjoy the school food. The biggest surprise has been salmiakki. It is a strange taste to find in sweets.

What do you hope for the future?

I want to learn Finnish because I want to be able to communicate with Finns and to be more active in social life.

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Irina Chernefa

  • Chef
  • Workplace: Santa Claus Holiday Village restaurant, Rovaniemi
  • Born in Ukraine

  • Tilaa Lehti

    Inspiraatiota ja hyötyä ruuan ja juoman ammattilaisille.

    Tilaa Aromi