Unlike many immigrant cooks, Yelena did not stay within culinary traditions of her motherland. Instead she carefully studied and embraced the diversity of New York culinary scene. One can find influences from many ethnic cuisines in her Panini Pies. While the Cabbage & Eggs pie is a tribute to her great-grandmother, and the Ukrainian pie was inspired by her childhood memories in her father's village in Western Ukraine, the menu also features items such as Lamb & Potatoes inspired by the cuisine of Central Asian countries, Shakshuka, whose recipe is based on a favorite breakfast dish of many Middle Eastern countries, or Marsala Chicken with recipe borrowed from Italian cuisine and Pork Kimchi pies inspired by Korean traditions.
THE PANINI PIES: ORIGIN STORY
Yelena Marchuk, founder of Panini Pie Factory, has been cooking and baking since she was a young girl in Tatarstan. She comes from a long line of bakers. Her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother baked all sorts of Russian and Tatar pies. During World War II, when meat and produce were scarce, her great-grandmother made and sold pies to support herself and her family. An inventive cook, she believed that pies could be made from almost anything, so she would use vegetables grown in her small vegetable patch or the meat of rabbits caught in the woods. When friends and neighbors would ask what she puts in her pies, her great-grandmother would reply, “Whatever God gives.”
Yelena inherited her great-grandmother’s creativity and resourcefulness. When she immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 and chose to settle in New York City, she was immediately taken with the culinary diversity there. To hone her culinary and baking skills she enrolled in International Culinary Institute, where she further developed her baking skills expending them to the commercial baking.
YELENA HERSELF SAYS
“The variety and versatility of Panini Pies fully reflect
diversity of the multi-ethnic culinary landscape of New
York, the City that I ‘ve loved and called my home for the
last 20 years.”