Alena Solodovichenko is a Ukrainian chef who recently left Russia and returned to her home country as a precaution due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Despite leaving her career and possessions behind, Alena has used her connections in the hospitality industry to help refugees find employment. In this interview, she shares her experiences during the war and her efforts to support those affected.
Can you tell us about your life as a chef before the war in Ukraine began?
Before the war, I was working as a chef in Moscow and had published two cookbooks. I was also preparing to participate in a number of projects and looking forward to a spring full of inspiration and creativity.
How did you react when you heard about the invasion of Ukraine?
When I heard about the invasion, I was shocked and devastated. I immediately started reaching out to my family and friends in Kiev and Odessa to make sure they were okay. It was unimaginable to me that a large-scale war was happening in my home country.
How has your life changed since leaving Russia and returning to Ukraine?
My life has changed significantly since leaving Russia. I had to leave everything behind, including my career and possessions. While I have lost a lot, I am grateful to be safe and know that I will eventually recover. My struggles are nothing compared to what the Ukrainian people are going through.
How have you been able to help refugees find employment in the hospitality industry?
I have used my connections in the hospitality industry to help refugees find jobs as chefs, waiters, bartenders, and other roles. Many people in the industry have been willing to help and have shared job openings with me. Despite language barriers, every chef speaks the universal language of cooking. In addition to work, there is also a great need for housing and assistance with documents.
How can people and businesses support your project?
Anyone with job openings for chefs, waiters, bartenders and other jobs can DM me via Instagram. The fact that not everyone speaks English doesn't have to be a problem, because every chef knows the language of cooking. Besides work, there is also a great need for housing and help with arranging documents.
Want to offer your help? Send Alena a DM via Instagram.
Would you like to share your culinary adventures or experiences with us? Please, let us know.