This weekend, several Los Angeles chefs and restaurants are joining the international restaurant industry and the global culinary movement to #CookForUkraine, a humanitarian aid initiative that first began as a UK crowdfunding effort by UNICEF launched by London-based chefs Olia Hercules and Alissa Timoshkina.
The couple, respectively Ukrainian and Russian, said The Guardian their joint initiative is “really important” to the world. “In a way, we symbolize both sides of the war. For us, there is no conflict, just love, food and community,” Timoshkina said.
As with previous relief and relief efforts, several key players in the Los Angeles food and restaurant sphere took to their kitchens to raise funds for much-needed donations and hopefully spark more mealtime conversations about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying refugee crisis.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are four ways this weekend (some of which will continue beyond this Sunday) to get involved in LA-area #CookForUkraine initiatives. We’ve made sure to note exactly which nonprofits and emergency relief organizations your funds will go to, in case you want to do more research on where those dollars end up going.
Ama Bar + Orsa and Winston (Downtown): Throughout Friday and Saturday, chef Josef Centeno’s two downtown restaurants will donate 100% of sales to four charities (which we detail below). This also includes take-out orders and gift cards. While Orsa & Winston seems to be full for this weekend, many reservations at Bar Ama are available online.
All proceeds will go to World Central Kitchen, the NGO founded by international chef José Andrés, which currently serves on-site meals to Ukrainian refugees in Poland, Romania, Moldova and Hungary; International Rescue Committee, an 89-year-old NGO that is on the ground in Poland helping Ukrainian refugees; Voices of Children, a psychological support organization for war-affected children in Ukraine; and CARE, an international aid agency delivering food, water and hygiene kits to Ukraine.
Now Serving #CookForUkraine Bake Sale (Chinese district): On Saturday, March 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or while supplies last), this chef-oriented Chinatown cookbook store will host a bake sale on the second floor of Far East Plaza with more than 30 pastry chefs , restaurants and bakers. All proceeds will go to UNICEF UK Emergency Fund aimed specifically at Ukrainian children and families.
Coffee found (Eagle Rock): From Thursday, March 10 through Thursday, March 17, 100% of sales from all bags of specialty coffee from this Northeast Los Angeles cafe will be donated to the International Rescue Committee. Retail bags will have a yellow and blue sticker or tag to indicate their association.
Ms. Chi Cafe (Town of Culver): For “as long as necessary”, the kitchen team at Chef Shirley Chung’s Culver City restaurant will be folding and selling take-out and take-out orders of blue and yellow dumplings inspired by Ukrainian vareniki. Each flag-colored potsticker is filled with dill, chicken, mushrooms, cabbage and Jerusalem artichoke (a type of sunflower root, in honor of Ukraine’s national flower) and is served with a side of horseradish sour cream. An order costs $12 and contains six blue and yellow freedom dumplings – and are also available nationwide in packs of 20 via belly of gold.
Proceeds from Freedom Dumpling will go to the following four organizations: UNICEF; World Central Cuisine; come back alive—a Ukrainian NGO providing direct assistance to the country’s military; and Nova Poshtaa Ukrainian humanitarian aid organization that distributes military and civilian supplies inside the country from abroad.