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Edmonton chef joins war effort in Ukraine helping feed the front lines

An Edmonton chef has taken his talent overseas to support war efforts in Ukraine.

Since moving to Kyiv three months ago, Cory Woods has been spending most of his time cooking for soldiers on the front lines.

“I’ve never had people eat my food who are as appreciative as these guys are,” Woods said.

Woods grew up engaged with his family's Ukrainian Heritage. He attended Ukrainian immersion school, took Ukrainian dance and sang in the choir at his Ukrainian Orthodox church.

"My Ukrainian identity has been a huge part of my life," he said, but added he grew apart from the community as he got older.

"When the invasion started last year, a lot of that came back to me very quickly."

Following the conflict on Twitter, Woods said he was frustrated and angry he wasn't doing more to help. So, he connected with a charity in Ukraine called the Magic Food Army.

"Our primary mission is to ensure that these troops are fed daily and have the caloric intake that they require to successfully go about doing their missions,” Woods said.

Now, for 14 to 16 hours each day, he works with other volunteers to keep front-line troops well fed.

“These guys come in and you can tell when they’ve had a hard day," he said. "When they’re leaving, they’re shaking our hands, giving us hugs and having laughs over their meals. You can see the effect that it has on them.”

Woods works and lives close to the action. The kitchen is just 30 kilometres from a warzone on the eastern border of Ukraine and when he's not at work, he lives in Kyiv.

“Kiev is under near constant bombardment," he said. "I’m often sitting out at night watching the air defense do its job. . . it is hard, it takes a toll."

In addition to supping soldiers, the Magic Food Army is in the process of helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces develop a standardized food delivery service – something Woods said is heavily involved with.

“We don’t know how much money we’re going to have to stock the cooler, to buy proteins and so every day is a bit of a challenge in trying to ensure that the boys have variation in their meals,” he said.

Despite the danger and long hours, Woods said his time in Ukraine has been fulfilling and he's started the process of becoming a permanent resident. Top Stories

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