Cooking event in Staffordshire in support of Ukraine

People from the West Midlands have been invited to cook for Ukraine and take part in a live streamed food experience involving a Ukranian woman who lives in Staffordshire.

Oksana Harris and Ingrid Wagner
Oksana Harris and Ingrid Wagner

The event, taking place on May 3, will raise funds for a mobile catering trailer to showcase Ukrainian food and culture in support of Ukrainian refugees.

Currently in the planning stage, the trailer will visit small scale events and festivals around the region, with the team updating the progress on their social media pages.

Titled "Let's Cook Ukraine", the event is the brainchild of organiser and presenter, Ingrid Wagner.

Ingrid has teamed up with Roshan Uyanwatte, managing director of the Stafford International Supermarket in Mill Street, Stafford and Ukrainian cook, Oksana Harris, to present the event.

"The aim is to share the culture and language of Ukraine through its food in a live cooking event," says Ingrid.

"I wanted to do something to help the fundraising effort for the war in Ukraine and when I went to Roshan with the idea, I found he was thinking along the same lines. He offered his premises straightaway as a venue for the event."

Oksana Harris, now lives in Stone but is originally from Ukraine, has lived in the UK for five years and will be chatting about the connection between food and language during the event.

She said: "I have lived in the UK for five years but some of my family and friends are still in Ukraine.

"Some of my friends will be coming over to Liverpool, while another very close to me are still over there in danger.

"I have maintained links with people over there and keep up to date with local Ukrainian podcasts on the situation.

"We try to do what we can while being over here, we send money to Ukraine which we and our friends have collected.

Oksana says when the conflict began, she couldn't eat or cook, but over time, she has found it has helped her.

She added: "It was terrible, I couldn't cook or eat because of the situation, with checking everyone is ok, and trying to move people to safe places, it was crazy times.

"Now our friends are in a safe place, I feel stronger and we have to fight to help our army.

"We are thankful to everyone in the UK and the British people who are helping, they are real friends to us, you do a lot and we really appreciate it, it is huge help.

"For the cooking event I feel excited and would like to show people Ukrainian food because it is really healthy, tasty and different from what we have here.

"Ukraine is a big country, and we have many many different dishes and types of food, we are a big mix of nationalities."

The event will take place in Stafford and feature a cookery lesson, recipe and food for thought notes, with each session lasting 45 minutes.

Those watching online are encouraged to join in with the cooking, and will be sent a recipe and list of ingredients alongside their booking confirmation.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Roshad feels strongly about the suffering which war can inflict on families, from his past experience of his own country’s fighting which ended in 2009.

Roshad said: "No one should suffer. From children never knowing whether their parents are going to come back, to lives being just completely torn apart by war.

"It shouldn’t happen and I wanted to do something to help the Ukrainian people caught up in their own war.

"Ingrid and I had what you might call a meeting of minds.”

Ingrid herself spent five years living and working as an English Language teacher in the former Eastern Bloc after the fall of the Berlin Wall and her experience has fed strongly into the idea the event.

Like many during lockdown, Ingrid learned how to grow her own vegetables and is now a keen cook.

Ingrid said: "We’re aiming to make a difference to the lives of people whose own have been torn apart in the current conflict."

More information on the event can be found here.

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