The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
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Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

Culinary happiness on wheels: how a Belarusian in Washington feeds Americans with Russian pancakes

Alexey Vorobey is the owner of Bel-Feast Food, which has been successfully feeding Washington and its residents Russian and Belarusian food for several years. Having moved to the USA, Alexey acquired a “food truck” - a popular type of business in the city. He told his story Voice of America.

Photo: video frame VOA

I am Alexei Vorobei and I am the one who sells Russian food in Washington DC.

I have always enjoyed cooking. Since childhood, the kitchen attracted me like a magnet, I feel very comfortable there. I still don't have any ideal recipes - it's always some kind of trend. You still follow some recipes, basics, but you add something every day, each time you cook something different.

Photo: video frame VOA

At the moment I have a food truck as a business. I always thought that it was the same as a tent on the market. That is, this is some kind of tray that rides and sells.

Photo: video frame VOA

Catering is when you have an order in advance. You just do it according to the list, bring it in and sell it. Catering in DC is very beneficial. I really like it: it's also a drive, especially in the last hour, when you are running and you need to be in time, and this is a profitable income.

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I am from Belarus, from the hero city of Grodno. There I got a law degree, after that I got a job in a computer company, worked there for a long time, worked as a director and in 2011, when the financial crisis came and the country's economy was declining, I did not see any great prospects and therefore decided try your life in another country. I moved to the USA.

Photo: video frame VOA

He moved to New York, then lived in Philadelphia and for the last 6 years I have been living in Washington. America turned out to be a very interesting country. Everything went in stages, at first I worked as a loader for my Russian-speaking friends, then I began to study English, because I did not have it for the first 2 of the year. Then he started working on Uber. I learned English there. And when you already know the language, you can move on. I rode on DC and saw everything that was happening. Yes, and just talking to passengers led to the fact that one of them turned out to be a buddy of a food truck driver and talked about what a cool business this is. And it somehow caught fire.

Photo: video frame VOA

I was looking for a business, looking for what to do. And I love to cook. All this was mixed into one cool pile. By the way, Uber helped a lot: I got an official salary there and was able to take the first loans. After that, I started looking for a food truck. Perhaps this is some semblance of fate: everything went as if on rails. I saw a food truck and realized that I could get it. Resources were found. At first I thought that I would build a food truck myself: I already bought a used FedEx truck, drove this tin can here, and already started to figure out how I would and where to do it all. It turned out to be a big problem: in Washington it is very difficult to find where to do all this officially, and there was no garage as such.

Why did I say fate? Because I kept watching food truck ads - and a photo pops up of the food truck I have now. The man who sold it played for 6 months and decided to sell: he thought it was easy and simple. I was lucky I bought it for $ 45 instead of $ 000 - and it was new. I also invested in stickers, and for 80 months, coming home after work, I pasted the truck for 000-2 hours a day.

Photo: video frame VOA

Of course, initially we could not guess all the preferences and tastes, this came with experience. The first year was fun, interesting, but unprofitable and very difficult - we earned 2 times less than anyone else. Then we adjusted it: at first we made a huge portion - 2 pancakes and a salad - for $ 11-12, and began to make one pancake and a salad for $ 8. And they started buying. And I began to earn more on eight dollars than on twelve. Why didn't you quit? Yes I like it! I didn't even think about quitting. It was hard, nosebleed sometimes from colossal fatigue. But I still didn't think about it. I worked 90 hours a week - that's twice as much as the average American works.

Photo: video frame VOA

Everything has leveled off. Through 2 of the year, stability appeared and profits started. Now I have done everything so that I do not work on Saturday and Sunday. It happened literally in the last year: these days of the week I am engaged in family. And it’s very cool. I’ve been in the country for 8 years and for the first time went on vacation last year. It seems to me that this is not very clear to those who did not do this, but the life of an immigrant is quite complicated in the early stages, you have to invest a lot in yourself.

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Finding a place for a truck is not so difficult: we already know 15 locations in DC The City Hall, which controls all the organizations, specially made it so that all 300-400 trucks in the city get to good places every day. To make them all on an equal footing, a $ 200 a month lottery was created. I choose the places where I would like to be, pay 25 dollars entrance fee and at about 10 numbers they tell me the result. If the result suits me, I pay the rest of the amount and next month I will be able to put the truck on the days and locations that I have chosen - they will all be behind me. It's smart, convenient and correct.

Our concept: we cook in the kitchen. In the truck we only collect the dish. We cook pancakes separately and fillings too. We warm and serve to the client. Everything is logically configured in the track, we have been doing this for a long time. My assistant Marina stands at the workstation and makes pancakes with fillings, I stand and sell them.

Photo: video frame VOA

We are the only food truck on the coast. There is no Russian truck in New York, nor in Philadelphia, where there is a huge Russian community, and only here I opened with Russian food. And all at once: “Well, what are you going to sell? Borscht? Dumplings? " Yes, I sell both borscht and dumplings.

We cook everything in the kitchen, it is called “Certified Commercial Kitchen”. This is a kitchen for cooking different businesses: catering, pastry shop, food trucks, Korean food, coffee production. This is a brilliant idea for small businesses. Washington is an expensive city, rent is off the charts here, business simply will not work. Sharing kitchen - you pay for a small place. Business grows - you take up more and more space. We live in this kitchen. Sometimes I see my wife less than some Korean woman.

Photo: video frame VOA

We prepare pancakes for several working days at once, we do this in advance. It is very profitable and very convenient. Pancakes are very well stored if stored properly.

The base of the pancakes is flour and 2 glasses of milk. I don't know why - but the absolute truth is that the first pancake is always lumpy.

For 4 years, we sold approximately 50 thousand pancakes. This is some terrible figure, but it is real.

Photo: video frame VOA

Initially, I opened a food truck, but our menu was immediately "sharpened" for catering. A food truck is a great key to do this. The food truck has made us a good name and recognition. Today I'm giving a food presentation: the first time the client pays nothing, but it's worth it for the future. A presentation is usually a meal for 10-15 people. You have to spend something to get it later. As a rule, you show this to office managers, some employees, they nod their heads: “Yes, yes, yes,” and if yes, they call back and invite.

Photo: video frame VOA

I'm thinking about expanding and adding a new menu - it makes sense to attract new customers. It also gives an increase in turnover with old customers: they have already tried everything and want something new. I will experiment on people: these will be my friends, let's see what they say. My friends are of different nationalities and tastes, it is always good to explore the tastes of clients.

Photo: video frame VOA

I am married, my wife Ekaterina is from Grodno. We've been together for a long time. We have a son who was born in the USA. We met in Grodno at a disco and there was no feeling that this was a stranger. She helps me in business, and even by the fact that she delves into, but does not interfere.

Photo: video frame VOA

“We created the project together and even started working together,” says Ekaterina. - But then Misha appeared and we decided that I would take care of the child and the house, and Lesha went completely into business. I really like all his ideas and developments, the fact that he consults with me. Everything that goes out to people does not pass me by ”.

Photo: video frame VOA

Once a parishioner of the Russian church came to me and told me about the upcoming event, - Alexey continues. I tried it, brought them our food and they all liked it. Half of the parishioners are Americans, they have a Russian background. In the USA, you preserve your cultural traditions and no one interferes with you. Washington is indicative, there is a little bit of everyone, a balance in everything. I am a little flattered that we are driving here, near the White House. I like it.

Photo: video frame VOA

Most importantly, people buy and come back. It is a spiritual feeling that your food, your product is like it.

Photo: video frame VOA

The stressful years have passed, now the first year of calmness - and I like it. I do what I like and it's just a thrill.

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