With the war in Ukraine still raging, chefs and foodservice industry professionals from all around the world are doing what they can to help refugees find shelter, stay safe and get fed, as Amelia Levin reports
Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsforUkraine campaign has spurred chefs from all over the world to come to Poland and other countries neighboring the war-torn Ukraine to help refugees in need. Back in their home countries, chefs have thrown fundraising dinners and other events with the intent of raising funds to support the cause.
In April in Tokyo, where Narisawa restaurant hosted an emergency fundraiser with 100% of donations (no deductions for labor or ingredients) going to UNICEF Japan to supply aid to Ukrainian children both currently in Ukraine, as well as children who have fled the country.
In the US, some manufacturers are getting behind the cause. ITW donated $1m to various aid organisations and is initiating a worldwide internal donation campaign.
Starting the fundraising campaign at home
FCSI Associate Andrey Teleguz, who is a refugee from Ukraine himself, has also taken steps to help out his family members, some of whom are still there, and the wider community. “When the Russian invasion started, we received a lot of phone calls and messages – people sending pictures and asking for help,” he told Foodservice Consultant earlier in the year. Teleguz, the principal owner of SCOPOS Hospitality Group, who, after first processing the shock, found himself as the fund administrator for the Ukraine War Refugee Aid Fund created in partnership with Bethany Slavic Church.
A business partner who works with a Polish stone manufacturer in Pennsylvania, where Teleguz is based, and who has family members in Poland offered to help refugees from Ukraine. He knew some business partners in Poland that have summer camps, so they immediately used one of them to house 300 refugees. After starting the fundraising campaign at home, Teleguz and his business partners reached out to their contacts in Ukraine letting them know about the summer-turned-refugee camps meant to serve as a temporary stopping point before connecting refugees with other local community outlets for more permanent placement.
“Our volunteers set up tents at the border crossing and we’re feeding people, giving them sleeping bags, we have fire pits set up so people can just stay warm in the cold temperatures,” he says. “We grew up in that oppression and we fled it many years ago, we are refugees ourselves. So, we understand what our fellow Ukrainians are going through today.” Since the start of the campaign, the fund has raised more than $280,000.