24 Mar cook for ukraine: Pierogi for Peace
With the invasion of Ukraine, it’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks for many of us. While I was still in shock and disbelief at what I was seeing, my incredible friend, Alissa Timoshkina’s, response was quick and impactful – she set up #CookforUkraine.
#CookforUkraine is a movement that uses food to unite us against Putin’s tyranny, while raising money for Unicef’s work in the area (it’s based on #CookforSyria that raised over a million pounds for those affected by war). When Alissa contacted me in the early stages of her idea, I immediately jumped on board. I was grateful for the opportunity to put my anger to good use by raising money for those that need it most right now – the children on Ukraine – whilst doing what I love. Many others offered to help too, such as the wonderful illustrator Scribble&Daub, who created the lovely pierogi you see up there.
My photographer friend, Ola O. Smit and I had just a few weeks prior been working in her beautiful, Hackney studio on a book about Polish dumplings. We all enjoyed the experience so much, we deemed the shoot to be a “dumpling spa break”, for its therapeutic qualities. Ola, who is Polish, suggested that we do something similar to raise money for Ukraine, donating her lovely studio to the cause. That is how Pierogi for Peace was born.
The event was a big success. Everyone left the building smiling, with bellies full of pierogi, pinching techniques learnt and new friends made. I was so grateful for a few hours of not thinking about Ukraine. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been obsessing about the plight of the Ukrainians, to a point where it’s adversely affecting my mental health. I have now realised that I must do what I can without spending all day worrying or angry or tearful. I must somehow pull myself away from what’s happening, so I can do what I need to do.
Many people have said to me that they don’t know what they can do to help. Join the movement! You can do this in various ways, but by far the simplest way is to cook Ukrainian and other East European dishes and tag them #CookforUkraine on Instagram, while posting the link to the fundraiser in your bio and encouraging your followers to donate. You can also fundraise by holding bake sales, supper clubs or workshops. Or just come to my workshop, there’s another one on 30th April and there’s still a handful of places left. You can buy a ticket here. The workshop is sponsored by Natoora and Buckwheat Tea, media patron: Table Magazine. Video content by Alick Cotterill.