The Free Store for Ukrainian Newcomers was established in the spring of 2022, and it’s had more than 6,000 visitors. The premise was simple; it would be a place where those fleeing the war in the Ukraine could find life’s necessities as they adjusted to their new lives in Canada.
But what if the Free Store could also be a place for these Ukrainian refugees to sell their goods to the public?
A few months back, Ukraine’s Kitchen by Free Store opened, and there were 300 orders made for Ukrainian goodies such as perogies, borscht, cabbage rolls and sweets. Free Store co-founder Jorgia Moore said that six people are currently working in the kitchen.
“They are in a place that’s safe, they can speak the language that’s familiar to them, and they are sharing the recipes that come from home,” she said.
The Ukrainian cooks work with Indigenous chef Matthew Potts, and Moore said it’s important that the newcomers recognize that they have found refuge on Treaty 6 Territory. With that in mind, Potts and the newcomers will soon create meals that mix Indigenous and Eastern European flavours.
Moore is four generations removed from her great-great grandparents who came to Canada. She’s learned a lot from the food that the newcomers are making in the kitchen.
“I realized that a lot of the Ukrainian food we eat in Alberta is very old school,” she said. That is, much of the Ukrainian recipes we’re familiar with came to Canada during the great waves of immigration in the early 20th century. But, meanwhile, back in Ukraine itself, the food scene evolved.
So, the Ukrainian chefs at the Free Store are making things that are new to Moore, like the Eastern European take on croissants.
“I had never had them before, but was told they’re very popular now back in Ukraine,” she said.
If you’d like to try some of the fare from Ukraine’s Kitchen, you can order ahead or visit the Free Store. As Moore points out, you can do double-duty to support Ukrainian refugees — go to the store and donate some goods, and then purchase some food from the kitchen.
Ukraine’s Kitchen by Free Store
Downtown | 10568 108 St NW, Edmonton | freestoreyeg.com/order-ukrainian-food
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