Top Suffolk chefs unite for pop-up Ukraine fundraising dinner

Chef maria elia

Maria Elia is working with Nicola Hordern and a host of other award-winning Suffolk chefs to host a dinner raising funds for Ukraine - Credit: Catlin Caprio

Responding to the devastating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, some of Suffolk’s top chefs are working together to cook a special fund-raising feast celebrating the country, its people and its food. All profits will go to the DEC’s  (Disasters Emergency Committee) Ukraine Appeal.  

At 7pm, on March 17 the kitchen brigade at Suffolk New College's Chefs' Whites restaurant will be led by Nicola Hordern and Maria Elia. In an extraordinary show of solidarity they’ll be joined in the kitchen by others including Lee Bye and Harvey Thompson (Tuddenham Mill), Nick Claxton Webb (Adnams), Mike Keen, Grant Newland (Kings Arms, Haughley) and Sam Sturman (Brewers, Rattlesden).  

The Suffolk Cooks for Ukraine event will be held on Thursday, March 17, with the generous support of Suffolk New College, Ipswich. Catering and hospitality students will join the professionals for The Suffolk Cooks for Ukraine event, preparing, cooking and serving the dinner, priced at £60 per person, and with tickets available here.

Maria Elia says: “My heart breaks as I watch the daily atrocities and heinous crimes against humanity unfold in Ukraine. I’ve tried to imagine how it would feel to have your whole existence and freedom snatched away literally overnight, while your beloved country is bombed to shreds and family torn apart.  

“The courage, unity and resilience of the Ukranian people is awe-inspiring. We’ll be ‘cooking for Ukraine’, to show our love and support by bringing people together through the power of food.  Huge thanks to everyone involved so far, through your generous support we can help raise much needed funds for the DEC’s Ukraine appeal.” 

Nicola Hordern adds: “Like many I have found the situation in Ukraine extremely distressing. I was spurred into action following a social media post by the Russian food creative Alissa Timoshkina and her friend, Ukrainian chef Olia Hercules asking us to cook ‘for Ukraine, for peace, for freedom, for truth, for common sense, for rational thought, for love’.  

“I have cooked and shared Russian and Ukrainian food with both Olia and Alissa and for them and for the extraordinary work that Olia is doing raising awareness for the plight of her country I am supporting their cause in the only way I know how.   

“We have an extraordinary team of chefs who will cook food inspired by the region, supported by the wonderful students and staff of Suffolk New College. Please join us if you can.”  

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The menu includes a welcome drink and snacks, starters to share of Ossentian pie with St Helena cheese, a selection of pickles and vegetable salads, and borscht, followed by slow-roasted shoulder of Dingley Dell pork with sauerkraut, figs, prunes and apricots, or stuffed cabbage rolls with buckwheat, figs, prunes and apricots. Dessert is St Jude curd and polenta cake with caramelised apples and bay leaf custard. And the evening finishes with tea, coffee and chocolates.

Mike Mulvihill, director of service industries at Suffolk New College, says: “The Suffolk Centre for Culinary Arts here at Suffolk New College had no hesitation in becoming a big part of this event. My students are very aware of the seriousness of the conflict and so to help in such a fantastic way has really made them feel that they are helping those in desperate need.” 

Journalist Tessa Allingham, who is one of the event organisers, says: “Nicola and Maria have created a unique menu that really celebrates the flavours of Ukraine. Everyone is pouring their talent and time into an urgently important cause. Please support if you can!”  While food writer and cookery teacher Linda Duffin adds: “Ticket numbers are limited, time is short and the need is critical, so we’d urge people to please book as soon as possible. This is an entirely voluntary effort and every penny we make will go to the people of Ukraine.”