“Gourmet Army” … Ukrainian chefs struggle from kitchens

The capital’s restaurants, Kiev, are playing an important role in helping people feed them plenty of food from the “gourmet army” during the month of Russian occupation of Ukraine, according to a report published by the British newspaper The Independent.

It was an urgent call from her mother in Kherson, Valery Senkevich, in which she said Russian forces had opened fire on a crowd protesting against the occupation of their city, seriously injuring several people.

This immediately aroused Senkevich’s concern for her son, who was active in the daily demonstrations against the invading forces, adding: “This is what worries me during my stay in Kiev for the safety of my son and the rest. of my family in Kherson. “

But there is at least somewhere where she can seek security in such difficult times. Senkevich is eating a free lunch offered by Tsarsky Selo, a famous restaurant in Kiev, as part of a program that ensures no one is left behind. hungry because the city faces every day. Russian attacks, and it is difficult Get supplies while very few shops are still open.

“It’s very good to be with the people who are helping in these difficult days and I really appreciate that,” she added.

“Not only is the food welcome, but you can also be here with others and share your thoughts and fears,” adds Senkevich, 52, who has arrived in the Ukrainian capital to care for her daughter.

And she added: “I’m concerned about what is happening here in Kiev from the rocket attacks, and I’m certainly afraid for my family in Kherson as well.”

Hilma Pavomirua, 83, had moved with her family to the town of Brovary, near Kiev, when the war broke out, but the country quickly became a battleground, forcing her to return to the capital.

“We had a small house just outside Brovary and we thought we would be safer there than here, but there were shots and shelling all around us and it got very scary,” she explained.

“We came back as soon as we could,” she says. “I heard about the lunches being served at Sarski Selo and I came and now I’m coming again. It ‘s good to meet people and try to lead a normal life.”

Pavomirua and her daughter talk about the biggest attack that took place in Kiev after the 10-storey shopping center was destroyed, where eight people were killed, and the death toll rises to dozens buried under the rubble.

And the Tsarsky Selo restaurant is part of the “gourmet army” for catering for the hospitality and distribution of food, as the war ended the role of these restaurants in receiving visitors and tourists.

The restaurant’s managing director, Victoria Lebedeva, said: “This place was full of customers before the Corona virus broke out and when things started to return to normal, the place flourished again and visitors from outside the capital as well as foreign tourists. , flocked to visit us and our staff took English courses because of our international clients. ”

And she added: “Then the war came and we had to close, but we still have some employees here and we produce hundreds of meals a day, and first we started supplying the military hospital and then we provide food for all those in need.” where people can come to eat here, or deliver what they need to their homes by volunteers.

She stressed that eating inside her restaurant has a special taste, as people gather to talk and talk about their fears and hopes, themselves and their families.

Lebedeva, 27, has her own family business. She left the eastern Donetsk region during the 2014 war with the separatists.

However, her mother decided to stay in the city that was allegedly attacked in the current conflict.

And she continued, “I have no brothers or sisters, and my mother and I try to stay in touch as much as possible because we are worried about each other, and when I heard about the bombing of the shopping center in Kiev , she was worried., and I’ve been trying to contact her for a while and I’ll keep trying. “

“difficult times”

As for Oleksiy Kamardin, he ran a famous Italian restaurant in the Donetsk region, but seven years ago he left for Kiev, where he opened a restaurant of the same name (Basano) in the capital, which won many awards and won great fame.

Camardin, 34, explains that the last regular meal was served at the Bassano restaurant on the afternoon of February 24 before the start of the Russian occupation of his country, before many of his employees and townspeople began to flee and seek refuge. .

As for those who have remained working in the restaurant, they are currently contributing to providing food for the needy, in addition to delivering 300 ready meals a day.

All the remaining employees of the Bassano restaurant took part in the efforts of the “gourmet army” including the pastry chef Anton Shtepa, who won a competition to become the best chocolate of the year in Ukraine.

Some restaurants, like Bassano, continued to pay their employees, at first it was difficult to get ingredients, but it became easier as wholesale distributors, who removed some material tariffs, began to increase the volume of supplies.

The closure of Bassano and another sub-restaurant in Kyiv Kamardin has cost $ 100,000 and nearly $ 30,000 in profits in the last 24 days.

“But honestly this is not something we can worry about right now,” Camardin explains. “The important thing is that we all work together in a very difficult time, everyone is ready to help and we will provide meals as long as we can. Supplies.”

Sofia Dromova, a 20-year-old food technology student, once enjoyed dining in Bassano, but now helps out in the kitchen with free meals.

She explained, “My family decided that this city should be our home and we will remain that way, and I do not want to spend all my time in an underground shelter, so I decided to offer a helping hand with my experiences.”

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