Rachael On Cooking With Children in Ukraine: “I get so much joy from these kids”

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On Rachael's most recent trip to Ukraine, the third she's taken in the last eight months, she brought us with her. "I have made it a personal mission to go to the Ukrainian people during this portion of their war. By the end of this year, this portion of the war will be well into its tenth month, but these folks have been fighting not only for themselves, but I believe for all of us for 10 years," says Rach.

"They are what I call the eyes of democracy itself. These folks are babysitting Madisonian democracy. They're babysitting all of us—NATO countries, America, all of us," she adds. "They are our neighbors. They're far away, but we have so much in common. So many things that we believe are truths and should be rights, and promised to everyone. They are beautiful people, and I wanted to bring you along."

During this trip, Rachael brought us along to St. John Bosco in Lviv, a youth education center. "I'm so excited to share one of my favorite places on the planet... It's a training center... It's a vocational school for children...it’s their home," Rach explains.

Rachael Ray teaching kids how to cook in Ukraine.
Rachael Ray Show

But, when she arrived to St. John Bosco to meet with Father Andriy Bodnar, the kitchen where she was supposed to teach had no power. "Say a prayer for power. This is where we're supposed to be making our borscht today. It's a little chilly," says Rach. It was about 28 degrees in the kitchen.

Thankfully, the prayer worked—and the power was restored. "The last time we were here, we made a list of what they needed [at St. John Bosco]. Father Andriy Bodnar told me that he needed a ventilation system, and the power kept going out during our cooking demo, so, we've upgraded the power at each station, so hopefully they will stay on for us," she explains.

Rachael taught the kids how to make beef borscht (and cooked alongside them): "Today's meal is beef borscht, a Ukrainian tradition, and for most of the kids, it was the first time they'd ever made it in their lives."

Plus, they also made chocolate cakes, but there was a bit of an issue in the process, which ultimately led to a bit of a laugh. 

"The chocolate cakes exploded because there was too much batter for the mixer," Rach recalls. "And the children were eating it off the counters and off the side of the bowls. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It was like Christmas. It was better than Christmas."

Rachael Ray with the children she taught in Lviv.
Rachael Ray Show

Rachael went around the room and worked individually with several of the children, teaching them how to cut the vegetables for the soup.

“I get so much joy from all of these kids,” she adds.

"Many people know me from pots and pans or maybe the name on their sofa or dog food. I don’t know why I was so compelled to do this. I wanted to be with the people of Ukraine because I watch the news a lot and I am just so moved by these human beings that are putting their very lives on the line at every age group. I think that’s what really got me into this. I just couldn’t believe that children to grandmothers, and grandfathers were so passionate. It’s not a movie, it’s life," Rachael says.

Rachael also found it striking, the unconditional love children can share even when they've lost it all.

"I just felt, wow, this is great. They've lost so much, they've lost mom and dad, they've lost their homes, but look at the joy that they can still feel and how much they love each other," she says. "And they were all hugging each other and sharing and trading toys. They weren't fighting each other. They were sharing and trading and I thought, what exemplary kids. What beautiful little creatures these people are."


If you feel as moved as Rach to help the people in Ukraine, here are the organizations where you can donate:

World Central Kitchen

*Power is often off in Ukraine and systems can be down, so please try again if your donation does not go through the first time

Ukrainian Congress Committee of America

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