RR began in 2012 as a hobby. We set out to re-connect and learn more about the food cultures of our roots by creating pop-up dinners across London. Katrina (Katya) grew up in Estonia to a Ukrainian mother and a father from Crimea. Karina was born in Moscow with her dad's family hailing from the Caucasus, of Armenian and Georgian origins.
The 'New East'* is how we came to refer to the politically, culturally and gastronomically complex areas of the former Soviet Union, that we personally feel a connection to. We have been researching and updating the foods of our families and our childhoods, whilst exploring the wonderful produce and culinary influences of the UK. Our climates are often so similar, after all.
We grew up drinking rosehip tea and eating rye bread. These two plants are also widely grown in Britain. Connecting the cultures and traditions of the two lands is what inspires us. Despite the thousands of Eastern-European people living in London, still relatively little is known about these food cultures.
What started out as a passion project, grew into a catering and event business. We have worked with the likes of the V&A, Royal Academy of Arts, Pushkin House.
We always say that food never feeds the belly alone.
About Katya + Karina:
Katrina (Katya) Kollegaeva is a food anthropologist, food writer (Guardian, FT, Time Out restaurant reviewer 2009-2012) and a provenance specialist with over 10 years of experience at the Soil Association. Moving from the Baltic shores to southern Ukraine and the Black sea peninsula influenced her cooking.
Karina Baldry is a linguist and an author of ‘Russia on a Plate’. Her summers were spent in the Caucasus where she discovered flavours and herbs of this vibrant region, which became essential in her cooking.
* The New East is the term coined by the Calvert Journal, the world’s leading publication for culture, innovation, photography and travel across the vast areas of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Sadly in 2022 the Calvert Foundation has had to close down because of the changing and restrictive political and social landscape in Russia.