Gourmet chef Ievgen Klopotenko, who won Ukrainian MasterChef in 2015, has been tasked with preparing meals for those travelling on the 10 hour train journey to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky. As air space is closed and travel by road is too risky, foreign leaders and dignitaries must make the 400-mile trip overnight by train.
Joining them on the journey is Mr Klopotenko, who has been called Ukraine’s answer to Jamie Oliver.
He understands that taking good care of these VIPs and offering them excellent food is an act of diplomacy in itself.
The chef told The Telegraph: “When foreign leaders started coming here, I realised they were spending 10 hours on the train to see the president for one hour, then going straight home – all they were seeing was war and a railway carriage.
“So I offered to prepare some real Ukrainian cuisine for the state railway staff to serve up.
“It’s a way of showing our cultural identity and a cuisine that competes with any in the world.”
For his first time catering back in April, Mr Klopotenko was informed he would be cooking for a “very special friend of Ukraine”, although he was not allowed to know their identity.
He packaged up servings of borscht soup and green pea salad with sorrel, a popular herb in Ukraine.
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Mr Johnson has been one of Ukraine’s most enthusiastic and generous supporters, and although that may not be anything to do with the delicious borscht he enjoyed, Mr Klopotenko hopes it may sway decisions in Ukraine’s favour.
The 35-year-old added: “These visitors are making decisions about what weaponry they might offer us to help win the war, so anything I can do to help influence them is worth it, even if it’s just a small amount.”
Other train passengers, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U2 lead singer Bono, have dined out on wild mushrooms with millet, and river trout from the Carpathian mountains.