RE:Ukraine Hosts Charity Night to Aid Children’s Cancer Recovery

Myroslava Stadnyk, Toronto.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, on February 13th, traditional Ukrainian dishes and the history behind the special recipes, were revealed during the TAREELKA 2 charity dinner which was held at the Chef’s House restaurant in Toronto.

Led by culinary director and television host Lesia M. Burlak-Gordii, a team of chefs from the Chef’s House came together in one kitchen to present an exclusive aphrodisiac menu, adding a spice to authentic Ukrainian cuisine. This special dinner menu, along with a silent auction and a musical performance by Stacey Yerofeyeva (from the Ukrainian jazz fusion group DoVira), was featured during a charity night, organized by the RE:Ukraine fundraising team to raise funds for the Childhood Cancer Foundation ‘CRAB’ (www.krab.org.ua/eng).

Like many chefs, Lesia has her culinary style and favourite recipes. She also enjoys fusing Ukrainian and western dishes together. For the TAREELKA 2 dinner menu, Lesia wanted to introduce the guests to a number of traditional dishes, which they may or may not have heard of before. But also, she stretched the menu plan by including special ingredients and fine-turning red and white wines with a variety of dishes.

The three-course dinner included a creamy ‘banosh’ dish served with braised short rib, along with pickled roasted pepper and roasted onion – as an appetizer.

‘Banosh’ (which is basically cornmeal mush) is typically served in soft form,” said Lesia. “But instead of serving it soft-cooked, we’re actually setting it cold over night…(and having it) cut out and fried (afterwards),” she added. “So, that’s …a bit different from what we would normally serve in a Ukrainian style.”

The celebrated chef also mentioned that with having Ukrainian cuisine as the benchmark for this dinner, she could not go past pork and bacon, used for the second course. “One of my favourite things to prepare…is the bacon-wrapped tenderloin; really nice and tender.” Tenderloin was served with apple cranberry sauce, natural pan jus, field mushroom, bean ‘chynachy,’ potato pancake, butter beet and roasted vine tomato.

The perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day, a sweet Ukrainian style doughnut – ‘pampushok’ – or as Lesia calls it “comfort food,” was prepared by a culinary team to compliment the dinner. “We served it with a sour cream-based ice cream – as sour cream is widely used in our cuisine,” added Lesia. “And to go with the theme of Valentine, we added a chocolate sauce.” Lesia’s nicely sweetened Carpathian Mountains tea, which she found in Ukraine, brought a special personal touch to the culinary experience. This tea includes about 25-30 herbs, and was served as a ‘tea shot.’

Light herbal tea extracts, according to the ancient Ukrainian tradition, were used as fragrances for perfumes. Other aphrodisiac elements, such as garlic, ginger, beans, red pepper, honey and chocolate also hold special meanings in Ukrainian methodology. All of these items were widely seen either in the festive dinner menu and/or as part of the decorative display.

RE:Ukraine Initiative of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Toronto Branch), thanks the community for helping raise almost $4,000 once again – as they previously did during their first TAREELKA event last December. During the previous TAREELKA, RE:Ukraine raised a total amount of $4,362.00 and purchased the following items for the Isayevs family:

* a special freezer for medicines

* a special mixer for medicines

* warm clothes (coats, snow pants, sweaters for children)

* children’s shoes

* home stuff: pieces of furniture, kitchen utensil, etc.

* Christmas and New Year gifts for children

This time, all the proceeds will be forwarded to the Childhood Cancer Foundation ‘CRAB,’ which works to provide rehabilitative services for children in Ukraine who are undergoing cancer treatment – through projects such as the “Superhero” Program, therapy by fairy tales, Right-hemisphere drawing, Barber-shop therapy, visiting cultural events, tea parties, support after special treatment and more.

For more photos from the event and reports on the group’s success, as well as future charitable events, please visit RE:Ukraine’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/reukraineinitiative).