Recently, Hollywood actor Stanley Tucci, known for films like “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Lovely Bones,” and “The Hunger Games,” shared on Instagram his attempt to cook borscht. And he is not the only global celebrity who, with the onset of Russia’s full-scale aggression, has become actively interested in Ukrainian culture, particularly its diverse and delicious cuisine.

Ukrainians defended not only Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mykolaiv in the fight against the Putin regime but also their national soup, which is popular in many Eastern European countries. In the summer of 2022, UNESCO even added Ukrainian borscht to the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of protection. Protection from whom? Well, for example, from Russians who have long wanted to steal their neighbors’ iconic dish and claim it as their invention. Now, this scheme will never work for them because people worldwide eagerly cook borscht, emphasizing that this tasty and nutritious red beet soup is Ukrainian.

Hollywood-Style Borscht

Photo: Stanley Tucci

Photo: Stanley Tucci, Source: Instagram

Stanley Tucci is not only a talented actor but also an avid amateur chef who occasionally releases recipe collections that become bestsellers. Additionally, he runs a culinary Instagram with an impressive four million followers. When Tucci went to support Ukrainian refugees in Moldova (a country bordering Ukraine to the south), he insisted on being taught how to cook this legendary borscht that everyone is talking about. Fortunately, among the refugees was a woman named Svitlana, who worked as a chef in Ukraine before the war.

Tucci loved her borscht, so upon returning home, he decided to try making it himself. The actor prepared beef broth, added carrots, celery, onions, garlic, beets, potatoes, and canned tomatoes. After letting the soup steep for a day, Tucci tasted it the next morning but was disappointed. According to the actor, he couldn’t quite capture the taste of the original dish. Commenters from Ukraine thanked Tucci for popularizing borscht and suggested adding more potatoes and meat, so he promised to give it another try soon.

Lax Borscht

Photo: Sasha Grey

Photo: Sasha Grey, Source: Youtube

Regardless of whether you’re a star of mainstream Hollywood or “adult” cinema, everyone loves borscht. For example, in the spring of 2021, veteran of the American adult film industry Sasha Grey, who now runs a culinary blog called “Secret Sauce,” made a dedicated episode about borscht. The video immediately sparked lively discussions. On the one hand, Grey clearly stated the Ukrainian origin of borscht. On the other hand, she started her amateur cooking video with a tirade of commonly used Russian words:

“Privet, vodka, borscht, khorosho, pozhaluysta, do svidaniya, kak dela.”

Perhaps Grey mistakenly believed that everyone in Ukraine speaks Russian due to its Soviet past. However, this is strange, considering that the culinary enthusiast personally visited Kyiv and Odesa. Here’s how Grey’s tirade of those Russian words would sound in Ukrainian:

pryvit – hello

horilka – vodka

borscht –  in Russian as well, because they wanted to steal not only the recipe but also the name

harazd – ОК

budʹ-laska – please

do pobachennya – goodbye

yak spravy – what’s up

Grey’s confusion in the cultural space of post-Soviet countries became evident when examining the cover of her video. She made a collage with an image of borscht and her portrait as Alenka (a popular Soviet chocolate wrapper) – and in the background, the creative artist added a landscape of Moscow’s Kremlin. Fans and connoisseurs of borscht were baffled (to put it mildly) by Grey’s recipe. She began by frying a beef steak in avocado oil, and then… well, what does it matter what came next if she started by frying a beef steak in avocado oil?

Whoever wants to learn the recipe for authentic Ukrainian borscht – read the material to the end. And those who, in the late 2000s, were fans of what Grey knows how to do professionally – probably don’t care whether she made the right borscht or not. She tried her best – and that’s good.

Playborscht for Ukrainian Army 

Photo: Dasha Astafieva and Lesya Nikityuk

Photo: Dasha Astafieva and Lesya Nikityuk, Source: Youtube

It would be a mistake to think that only an experienced Ukrainian homemaker can cook delicious borscht. The notion that women from the world of men’s entertainment should stay away from the stove is false. A notable example is Ukrainian model Dasha Astafieva, who captivated Hugh Hefner 15 years ago, earning worldwide fame as the 55th Anniversary Playmate for the American version of Playboy in 2009.

Photo: Covergirl Dasha Astafieva

Photo: Covergirl Dasha Astafieva, Source: Playboy

With the onset of the war, Dasha Astafieva didn’t flee abroad but began volunteering, assisting the army in defending the country. She launched the culinary project “Taki Stravy” (“Such Dishes”) and, along with friends, started cooking borscht with dumplings for Ukrainian soldiers.

Borscht of Solidarity

Photo: Liev Schreiber and the tanker of borscht

Photo: Liev Schreiber and the tanker of borscht, Source: Instagram

Another Hollywood actor who mastered the art of cooking borscht is Liev Schreiber, known for the first three films in the “Scream” franchise. He has been a fervent supporter of Ukrainians for a long time and even became an ambassador for United24, a global initiative supporting Ukraine. In the spring of 2022, Schreiber, along with the charitable organization World Central Kitchen, traveled to Poland to cook borscht for Ukrainian refugees.

And don’t think that the actor took a photo with a “tanker” of borscht just to show off. No, he was actively involved in preparing the dish. He chopped so much greens and vegetables that he gave himself a “chopping blister,” but Schreiber proudly embraces it.

Instant Borscht

Photo: Hector Jimenez-Bravo

Photo: Hector Jimenez-Bravo, Source: Youtube

Colombian-Canadian celebrity chef Hector Jimenez-Bravo personally cooked for Queen Elizabeth II, George Bush, Tony Blair, Madonna, and Jennifer Lopez. Since 2011, he has closely tied his life to Ukraine, becoming a regular judge on the Ukrainian version of the show “MasterChef.” When Russia attacked his second homeland, Jimenez-Bravo couldn’t stay on the sidelines.

Considering Ukrainian soldiers as his idols, heroes, and superstars, Jimenez-Bravo feels fortunate to feed them with his own borscht. He developed a recipe for “home-made borscht in 10 minutes,” essentially a set of dehydrated vegetables, stew, and seasoning. Soldiers only need to mix it all, pour boiling water – and the borscht is ready.

To feed as many Ukrainian soldiers as possible, Hector Jimenez-Bravo set a goal to make 100,000 liters of borscht and personally deliver this tasty aid to the fronts in the Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk regions.

Ukrainian Borscht Recipe

Photo: Ukrainian borscht

Ukrainian and russian national red soup borsch closeup

If you’re considering making borscht yourself but have never done it and don’t know where to start, try the classic recipe from Yevhen Klopotenko. This Ukrainian chef not only knows the nuances of national cuisine but was also one of those actively involved in the “borscht war” against Russia.

Moreover, during the pandemic, Klopotenko hosted the travel project “Borscht. Secret Ingredient,” where he traveled to various regions of Ukraine to find unique recipes. For example, you can find the recipe for Odesa-style borscht here. Also, check out the playlist with all the episodes of the “Borscht. Secret Ingredient” project, where Yevhen Klopotenko presents about a dozen variations of this Ukrainian dish – all videos have English subtitles.

Source: The Gaze