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Stoli Vodka Raises A Toast To Ukraine With a Limited Edition Bottle

Over the past couple months, we’ve all been riveted by the war in Ukraine. And many of us have wondered what we could do to aid in the relief of the Ukrainian population. 

Stoli Group has stepped up on their part by releasing a limited-edition bottle of Stoli Vodka to benefit the country under siege by Russian forces. Proceeds from the bottle will be donated to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a non-profit organization founded by Chef José Andrés that provides fresh, nutritious meals to refugees fleeing Ukraine and those who are staying in cities impacted by the war.          

Drawing from the colors of the Ukrainian national flag, the geometric graphic pattern that adorns the bottle design is inspired by the communities around the world that have come together to support the people of Ukraine. The bottle launched globally as one of the key pillars in reaching the goal of raising $1 million for WCK by August 24th — to celebrate Independence Day of Ukraine.

“As Ukrainians continue to suffer unimaginable losses, we are doing our small part to show unequivocal support,” said Damian McKinney, Global CEO, Stoli Group. “This Stoli Vodka bottle will not only provide financial resources to Ukraine but is also a symbol of solidarity.”

“World Central Kitchen is grateful for Stoli’s support and commitment to our mission. They share our belief that a plate of food is more than just nourishment; it’s hope and a sign that someone cares,” added Jason Collis, WCK’s Vice President of Relief. “We appreciate Stoli’s quick movement to action and continued support, which will help us to serve meals as long as we are needed.”

WCK has served millions of meals across Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Working with local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks to provide nourishing meals at border crossings, shelters, and other refugee communities, WCK serves more than 300,000 meals daily in the region. The limited-edition bottle follows a previous financial commitment to WCK from Stoli.

In addition to the limited-edition bottle, Stoli is launching a charitable cocktail program called “Cocktails for Ukraine” which encourages bars and restaurants to donate $1 for every Stoli cocktail sold to WCK. Consumers will also have the opportunity to make a direct donation to WCK by scanning the QR code on the menu that links to the Stoli Group fundraising page for WCK.

The limited-edition bottle in support of the Ukrainian people will be available for purchase in select stores in the U.S. and select countries around the world.

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News

Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen is Serving Millions of Meals to Ukrainian Families

Photo: World Central Kitchen/WCK.org

With 30,000 meals going out each day, World Central Kitchen’s (WCK) #ChefsForUkraine campaign is already making a significant impact in the face of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

As of April 30th, more than 16.4 million meals have been served. Millions of families are fleeing and need assistance but there are still many others staying behind, thus requiring needed assistance.

Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen is always on the front lines of those in need. When massive tornadoes touched down in Kentucky they partnered with 25 restaurants to provide meals, have committed $1 billion dollars to families affected by climate crisis, were there when Haiti had massive earthquakes last fall and a slue of other relief efforts.

In Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, one of their restaurant partners was hit with a missile that destroyed their kitchen. Four staff members were wounded with burn injuries, yet still went back out to cook in a new location using whatever salvageable equipment they had, just two days later.

Three months after Ukraine was invaded, there are now thousands of Ukrainian team members for #ChefsForUkraine. The tremendous effort includes hundreds of restaurants cooking for those who have been displaced and seek refuge in hospitals or shelters.

You can follow WCK on Twitter for updates on their #ChefsForUkraine relief efforts.

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News Packaged Food

Nestle Breaks off Sales of KitKat in Russia

Much of the world has condemned Russia’s invasion of and ongoing war in Ukraine. With such fierce criticism comes the suspension of sales in Russia by many brands and companies opposing the country’s actions. Count Nestle as another brand that wants to suspend sales there, though not completely.

Earlier this month, Nestle already ceased investment in Russia, and in latest news, has now made the decision to halt sales of brands such as KitKat and Nesquik. However, the brand has chosen to continue sales of essential food products like infant food and medical and hospital nutrition.

Nestle commented, “As the war rages in Ukraine, our activities in Russia will focus on providing essential food — not on making a profit.”

Nestle’s decision to not fully pull out of Russia and continuing to conduct business in any capacity there has been criticized by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Ukranian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted about Nestle, “Paying taxes to the budget of a terrorist country means killing defenseless children and mothers. Hope that Nestle will change its mind soon.”

In defense of its decision to continue business in Russia, Nestle addressed, “We have a responsibility toward our more than 7,000 employees in Russia — most of whom are locals.” The brand continued, “While we do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes for the foreseeable future in Russia, any profit will be donated to humanitarian relief organizations. Nestle further stated, “We stand with the people of Ukraine and our 5,800 employees there.”

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Fast Food

These 5 Fast Food Chains Have Halted Operations in Russia

On February 24th, Russia launched a coordinated attack on the country of Ukraine. The attack is the latest in a long and complex history between the two countries, which involves on-going conflict dating back to 1922. In an effort to impede Russia’s invasion, the western world has banded together. News reports that the Russian economy is taking a hit due to sanctions being imposed, but signs of cease fire have yet to show.

Social media has helped to raise worldwide awareness of the Ukrainian plight and inspire many to support. From individuals with small platforms to major outlets, everyone is standing with Ukraine. Aside from sanctions, food is another industry taking a hit in Russia as many major chains have chosen to halt local operations. Below I’ve compiled a list of fast food chains that have suspended operations in Russia. 

Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

McDonald’s

The godfather of all fast food chains, McDonald’s, just announced that they are temporarily closing their 850 locations in Russia. This is particularly significant due to McDonald’s being one of the longest running western fast food chains in the country, first opening in 1990. Unlike here in the states where most McDonald’s are franchises, in Russia, 84% are owned by McDonalds. With an employee-base of 62,000, the decision to halt operations dealt a major blow.

Photo: Achim Hepp

Starbucks

With 130 licensed locations in Russia and Ukraine, Starbucks has become somewhat of a staple. Following McDonald’s announcement to temporarily suspend operations, they joined in solidarity. While a cease fire is uncertain, Starbucks will continue to provide support for their employees through the suspension period.

Photo By: SarychevaEkaterina

KFC, Taco Bell & Pizza Hut

Yum! Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut has also decided to shut down their operations. In Russia, there’s over 1,000 KFC locations and 50 Pizza Huts. Previously, the company had been opening 100 new KFC locations each year. This drastic shift is sure to be felt in Russia’s belly.

Photo By: Ildar Sagdejev

Papa Johns

Well known and loved worldwide, Papa Johns has 186 locations in Russia, or 8% of all the chain’s restaurants. Condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine, they’ve also decided to stop all operational, marketing and business support to the Russian market.

Photo By: Coolcaesar

Panda Express

The latest fast food chain joining in protest against Russia’s actions is Panda Express. They’ve chosen to not only cease current business operations in the country, but future plans as well. To show further support, they’re partnering with the Red Cross to provide essential aid to Ukrainian refugees with a pledge of up to $2 million through the Panda Cares Foundation fundraising program and a dollar-for-dollar corporate match.

In addition to fast food, beverage giants Coca Cola and Pepsi have both halted operations in Russia. They’re joined by a broad range of companies unifying in defiance of Russia’s actions and in support of the Ukrainian people.

While talks of cease fire have unfortunately stalled, we all wait in hope that this war reaches a peaceful end.

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Fast Food News

McDonald’s Temporarily Shuts Down Russian Locations Over Attack on Ukraine

The McDonald’s Corporation has made a recent announcement that it will temporarily close restaurants and halt operations in Russia as a response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. McDonald’s has over 850 locations in Russia.

In an an email to McDonald’s employees and franchisees, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski stated, “The conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Europe has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people. As a system, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace.”

Such is a pointed stance in opposition to Russia’s actions towards Ukraine, which joins much of the globe in condemning them.

The global show of support for Ukraine during this time has been crucial, which embodies the energy in a recent TikTok clip showing star of the platform, Ash Yi, eating and enjoying Ukrainian comfort food.

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Cravings Now Trending Restaurants TikTok

Watch TikTok Star Eat Delicious Ukrainian Comfort Food

@ashyizzle It’s all about love 🇺🇦💙💛 #mukbang ♬ Where Is The Love – Instrumental – The Hit Crew

TikTok star Ashley Yi is popular for her delicious eating exploits, all of which showcase her exuberance for any and all kinds of food. In one of her most recent TikTok videos, Yi visits, Traktir, a restaurant in West Hollywood, California that’s served up Russian and Ukrainian comfort food to the community for 16 years.

Check out the popular clip above as she highlights some classic Ukrainian fair like traditional boiled dumplings called varenyky, and holubtsi, which are stuffed cabbage rolls.

The significance of this video lies in its spotlight on Ukrainian fare, right as the world watches the country face major crisis and acts of war from Russian invasion.

Yi’s video concludes poignantly, “Even though the world may be a little broken, food will always bring us together.”

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Alcohol Drinks News

Several U.S. States Ban Sales of Russian Vodka

Russian vodka is now facing backlash to the country’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

State officials in Utah, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have all called upon liquor stores and state-run liquor outlets to remove Russian made or Russian-branded products from retailer shelves.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox commented, “Russia’s ruthless attack on a sovereign nation is an egregious violation of human rights. Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange.”

Such moves to show solidarity with Ukraine are, for the most part, symbolic, due to most Russian-branded vodka brands being distilled in different countries, and also the U.S.

Though popular brands such as Stoli and Smirnoff are branded with Russian origins, the former is registered in Latvia and the latter is owned by British spirits company, Diageo, and is manufactured in the state of Illinois.

Ultimately, such gestures have limited impact on actual Russian vodka, since it makes up a small percentage of the approximately $7 billion in annual vodka sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), a national trade organization that represents spirits makers.

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Fast Food

World’s Largest KFC Drive-Thru Serves 200 Cars An Hour

worldslargest_KFC

The world’s largest KFC drive-thru has landed in the Ukraine and with about 5,575 square feet to serve its patrons, it’s packed wall to wall with guests whose love for of all things fried, mashed and on the cob is very real. Located at the National Railway Station’s south terminal in Kiev, this fried chicken haven features a  double drive-thru that can serve 200 cars per hour, a 400-seat patio, and a room that seats up to 280 people.

Ukraine’s first KFC opened last year and it appears to have been a fan favorite considering the construction of this monstrous building, which will also be their flagship. More locations are in the works but it’ll take some effort to outdo themselves. Might we suggest a helipad for those traveling across Eastern Europe?

PicThx NRN