A few weeks ago, Ukrainian-born Alena Solodovichenko was living her dream. She was working as a chef in Moscow, published two cookbooks and was named superwoman by GQ Magazine. When Russia invaded Ukraine, she decided to leave everything behind as a precaution and left the country. Thanks to her network, she found shelter for her family and started helping refugees find a job in the hospitality industry.
How was your life 2 months ago when there was no war yet?
Like all chefs, I had a million plans. I was preparing an update to our menus, would be participating in two major projects and was looking forward to a spring full of love and inspiration.
What happened to you when Ukraine was invaded?
I can't put it into words, I was stunned and in non-stop contact with my family and friends from Kiev and Odessa. How could this happen to us? A real large-scale war!
How has your life changed since then?
For the last 9 years I have lived, worked and developed myself in Moscow. When I left Russia I had to leave everything behind. As a result, my life has changed quite a bit. I currently have nothing, but I am safe and will recover from this. My problems are not comparable to what the Ukrainian people are going through right now.
How did you come to help refugees from Ukraine find new jobs?
It's the least I can do. I have met many people working in the hospitality industry and many of my followers from Europe are showing a great willingness to help refugees. An incredible number are responding and sharing information. My family from Ukraine now lives with one of my followers in Germany. I am so incredibly grateful to him!
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.