Odessa Food Workshop – a Ukrainian meals and delights business – brings authentic Ukrainian cuisine to Estevan.
ESTEVAN — Hailing from Odessa, Ukraine, and, along with their families, expelled by the Russian war, Irina Butenko and Nadiia Kuliak came to Estevan about a year ago and met here.
Before coming to Canada, Kuliak had been thinking about opening her own bakery if things were to improve in Ukraine, and Butenko had years of experience in the food industry, feeding up to 400 people daily.
When the two met, one thing led to another, and Odessa Food Workshop – a Ukrainian meals and delights business – was born, bringing authentic Ukrainian cuisine to Estevan.
The business co-owners, with help from the Estevan Sunflower Network, acquired all necessary certifications to be able to treat local customers to traditional flavours. While their dream is one day to open a bistro or a restaurant, they decided to start small and take one step at a time, offering meals and desserts available upon order and with delivery in Estevan.
“Before we even started the business, Nadiia was treating people we met here with her desserts, and I did perogies and cabbage rolls, and people here really liked our food, our cuisine. That’s how we decided to do it as a business,” said Butenko.
Kuliak said starting a business in a new country was tricky.
“We didn’t know where to start,” Kuliak said.
“We were as the blind kittens,” Butenko added.
An old saying goes the tongue will get you to Kyiv. By asking and researching with the help of Valerie Crossman of Estevan Sunflower, the two learned all they needed to get the business going. Their official start date was Sept. 25, and now Odessa Food Workshop offers meals and delights on demand, with options to order small and big.
“We make cakes per order. We bake bread. We offer patisserie,” Kuliak said.
“We offer homemade traditional cabbage rolls, perogies with a variety of fillings, like cottage cheese, cabbage, potatoes, potatoes and mushrooms and more,” Butenko added.
The orders need to be made one to two days in advance.
Odessa Food Workshop has local experience in preparing traditional, full Ukrainian meals, from bread and borsch to a main course, to nalisniki and dessert for a few dozen of people.
“We can cook anything people would like to order,” Butenko said. “We can cook it and deliver after. Or we can make everything, freeze it and then provide instructions on how to cook it at home.”
“It happened so that the war sent us far away from home, but people here were so friendly, helpful and good. And in return, we also wanted to do something for people in Estevan, something we know well and that we are good at,” Butenko added.
If things go well and there is enough interest and support, the business co-owners said they hope to one day open a dine-in restaurant in Estevan. In the meantime, they are working on having meals available for lunches for companies and their employees and also developing their catering capacities.
Keep an eye open as Odessa Food Workshop tables pop up at different community events ahead of Christmas and check out their Facebook page for more on their offerings. To savour their Ukrainian cuisine, send them a message on Facebook Messenger or text at 306-461-4794.
“We’re here to ensure you experience the true essence of Ukraine, one delicious order at a time,” the business description says.