Fighting Russia Through Food: 3 Stories from Ukraine
Chef Mirali Dibalzi
The spring menu for Mirali was supposed to include pumpkin fettuccine, perch tartare with black caviar, and Black Sea sturgeon served with sea buckthorn, fermented asparagus, and pear. Chef Mirali and his team were experimenting with a deconstruction of blood sausage, he tells Eater. All those plans seem like they belong in the distant past, despite being from two months ago.
Chef Mirali did not stay in Kyiv, but he is still hard at work supporting his country. He has partnered with Michelin-starred Nobelhart & Schmutzig to serve lavish charity dinners across Germany. He has plans to continue his fundraising tour in other European countries like Denmark.
Chef Maciej Labunski
For many Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country, the first stop of their journey is the train station at Przemyśl, Poland, less than ten miles from the border.
Thousands of Ukrainians wait there daily, often for hours at a time, planning the next stages of their journey.
Polish Chef Maciej Labunski saw these masses of people in need and decided to help them the way he knows best—with food.
Chef Maciej owns the restaurant Bosko, a partner of World Central Kitchen (WCK). With WCK’s help, he has provided warm meals to thousands of refugees. He works from 8am to 9pm, delivering food to the train station so new arrivals can enjoy hot meals like soup, pasta, and rice.
Chef Maciej is no stranger to cooking across cultures. “In our cooking, we focus on regional foods. Our city has always been multicultural—Ukrainians, Poles, and Jewish people—these people have always been here so the local food has a history of its own.”
Sasha is a baker at Riga Bakery in Chernihiv, a city north of Kyiv. The city survived over a month-long siege, though Russian forces have withdrawn for now.
The Riga Bakery delivery vans have bullet holes in them. Two of the vans broke during the attacks. Yet Sasha and her team stayed in Chernihiv, where they bake thousands of loaves of bread each day. Riga Bakery is another WCK partner, and the organization ensures they have enough supplies to keep working.
When asked why she stayed despite the danger, Sasha’s response is simple:
“People are hungry and I love to bake.”
You can support chefs in and around Ukraine by donating to World Central Kitchen. Your gift will ensure nobody has to go hungry during this crisis, and you’ll enable people like Chef Maciej and Sasha to share their gifts with those in need.