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Cossack menu and pineapple dumplings: what is served by the first Ukrainian restaurant in Philadelphia

Stuffed cabbage, pancakes, jellied meat, bacon - these are just a few dishes from the Cossack menu of the Ukrainian banquet hall and Philadelphia. Chef Taras Zhimelko has been feeding the residents of the city with both traditional Ukrainian and original gourmet dishes with a Ukrainian flavor for 3 years. This is stated in the video. "Voices of America".

Screenshot from the video "Voice of America"

One of the most popular dishes in his restaurant is pineapple dumplings. Taras began to learn how to cook at the hostel of the Lviv Veterinary Academy.

Pineapple dumplings with mascarpone sauce are the signature dish of the Royal Passage restaurant. This recipe, like many others, was created by Taras personally.

A man comes from Zhydachiv (Lviv region). He taught him how to cook in his student years.

“We lived in a hostel and at the end of the week there was nothing to eat and, as they say, we were making soup from an ax. Who had a piece of onion, who had a piece of carrot - I liked to experiment, ”Taras recalls.

The reputation of the cook and the name he received while working in the UK.

Screenshot from the video "Voice of America"

“I started out with a small Japanese restaurant, but when I left there, I was already an assistant chef - a sous-chef,” says the Ukrainian.

Taras’s ambitions paid off, he was invited to the position of chef in a network of Swiss restaurants. However, he did not agree at once, because for a new position it was necessary to move from London to Russia.

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“It was a Swiss company, a 5 star hotel. At first I refused, knowing that I would have to go to Russia, but then I talked to my chef at that time, he advised not to be afraid to change something, and I agreed and moved, ”says Taras.

It was in Russia that Zhimelko managed to save enough money to realize his cherished dream in the future - to open his own restaurant, but the war prevented him.

“A conflict began between Russia and Ukraine and I didn’t want to stay there,” the Ukrainian recalls.

Screenshot from the video "Voice of America"

Taras left St. Petersburg and applied for a visa for gifted people in the United States. A few months later he was already in the States and was looking for partners to open his first Ukrainian restaurant.

“Taras came with his sister and said that I was advised to him,” says Oksana Nazaruk, co-owner of the restaurant.

Within a few months, this conversation developed into a real partnership. Oksana Nazaruk, her son Yuri and Taras Zhimelko opened the first Ukrainian restaurant of banquet type “Royal Passage” in Philadelphia.

“I came here with a specific goal - to open my own restaurant. Because the USA is really a country of opportunities, it is easy to start a business here, there are no pitfalls, ”Taras recalls.

Screenshot from the video "Voice of America"

“At first I thought that we wouldn’t work together, but everything worked out,” Nazaruk says.

The restaurant opened 3 years ago and has almost recouped the investment in equipment and renovations. About 80% of the restaurant's customers are Ukrainian immigrants.

“There are a lot of Ukrainians in Philadelphia - about 100, and they all celebrate birthdays, weddings, many different holidays. Ukrainians love to walk and eat, ”says Taras.

There is a special menu for Ukrainians - Cossack. It includes dumplings, borsch, potato pancakes, Ukrainian lard and other dishes.

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The restaurant clearly spells out the responsibilities of everyone. Workers say that despite their young age, their boss Taras is serious and demanding.

“I know it's better not to go into the kitchen if he is preparing food, because he is a fan of cleanliness, a perfectionist. No mobile phones during work, he wants everything to be ready for clients on time, ”says singer Angeli Rose.

“Everything that is served on the table goes through his eyes, through his heart, through his hands,” says manager Albert Bagnoi.

Screenshot from the video "Voice of America"

The restaurant workers call their team a family. Taras admits that today work is his whole life.

“I am not married, sometimes I spend 12-14 hours a day in the kitchen in a restaurant,” says Taras.

In addition to work, he also tries to participate in the life of the Ukrainian diaspora, arranges free meals for volunteers and Ukrainian soldiers who come to Philadelphia for treatment.

“Sometimes we serve food for free, participate in fundraising for soldiers who need an operation. We are Ukrainians and must help each other, ”Taras says.

The decor of the restaurant is completely Ukrainian, and the singer Rose, who was taught by mother Whitney Houston, sang in Ukrainian for the first time in this restaurant.

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“My leaders Yuri and Taras once asked if I wanted to try singing a Ukrainian song. It was very difficult to pronounce the words in Ukrainian, but when I learned to pronounce them, then it became easy to sing, ”the singer says.

"Royal Passage" for Taras is the first step in his American career, in 5 years he plans to open another Ukrainian establishment.

“I have a dream to open a restaurant of Ukrainian cuisine, but not simple, but modern,” Taras says.

In his new restaurant, he will cook dumplings of different colors and shapes, root vegetables and borscht of various consistencies.

“To be a good cook,” Taras is convinced, “is not to be afraid to experiment”.

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