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Viv Groskop and Olia Hercules: One Ukrainian Summer

Thursday 16 May at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Join Viv Groskop as she discusses her latest work, “One Ukrainian Summer” with acclaimed chef Olia Hercules.

Autumn 1993. The former USSR. Viv is about to turn 21 and is on a study year abroad, supposedly immersed in the language, history and politics of a world that has just ceased to exist: the Soviet Union.

Instead, she finds herself immersed in Bogdan Bogdanovich – the lead guitarist of a Ukrainian punk rock band. As the temperature drops, he promises that if she can get through the freezing Russian winter, he will give her “one Ukrainian summer.” But is he serious about her? Or is she just another groupie?

At parties, gigs and dive bars, Viv and her new friends argue over whose turn it is to buy cigarettes, the best places to find Levi’s jeans and whether beer counts as a soft drink. No-one debates the merits of speaking Ukrainian over Russian, the precise location of the border or the undeniable brightness of the future. Of course good times are here to stay. Because the Soviet Union is finished. Isn’t it?

A poignant and often comical account of coming-of-age in the time after the Cold War and before Putin, One Ukrainian Summer is a love letter to a unique moment in history.

PEN International is a charity registered in the UK as International P.E.N. (Reg. No. 1117088)
Viv Groskop confirms that 100% of the income earned by her from this book will be donated to PEN International for their global work supporting writers at risk.

Find out more: www.pen-international.org

Viv Groskop is a British award-winning writer, comedian, broadcaster and performance coach. She is the author of the best-selling How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking (Penguin) and Lift As You Climb: Women and the Art of Ambition (Penguin). Her award-nominated podcast How to Own the Room is the biggest public speaking podcast in the world — with over a million downloads — and features interviews with Hillary Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Professor Mary Beard, Julie Andrews, Google CEO Matt Brittin, Succession’s Brian Cox and dozens more talking about public speaking, confidence and managing high-pressure situations. Her other books include The Anna Karenina Fix (Penguin) — a best-seller in translation in Russia and Finland — and Au Revoir, Tristesse (Abrams). She appears regularly on BBC TV and radio and for six years she did a run of sold-out one-woman comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

On BBC Radio 4 Viv has guest-presented Saturday Live, Saturday Review and Front Row. She was a regular guest on Andrew Neil’s This Week on BBC1 until the show’s demise in 2020 and she has also appeared on Woman’s Hour, Today, Newsnight, This Morning, University Challenge and Sky News. As a columnist she writes regularly for the Guardian and the Financial Times and has a regular column in Waitrose Health magazine on working life.

Viv switched from journalism to stand-up comedy in the early 2010s, performing 100 gigs in 100 consecutive nights, which led to the finals of Funny Women 2012 and to her first book I Laughed, I Cried. She has performed five one-woman shows at the Edinburgh Fringe (The Stand, Underbelly): I Laughed, I Cried (2014), Say Sorry to the Lady (2015), Be More Margo (2016), Anchorwoman (2017) and Vivalicious (2018). She has written and starred in five plays for BBC Radio 4 (produced by Big Fish Films): Read the Room (2019), Twelve Weeks (2019), A Fair Shot (2020), What He Would Have Wanted (2020) and Christmas Every Day (2021).

She is one of the most sought-after speakers for stand-up, MCing, awards hosting and keynote speaking. Keynote themes include How to Own the Room, Lift As You Climb, Women in Leadership, Female Empowerment, Authenticity and The Embrace of Failure. For all speaker enquiries, please email leo@vbqspeakers.com.

Her favourite recent gig was hosting Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy in front of 2,000 screaming fans at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Yes, she came dressed as Moira Rose. Of course!

Olia Hercules was born in the south of Ukraine in 1984. She left her home town Kakhovka at the age of twelve, when she moved to Cyprus.

After finishing school, she moved to the UK where she studied Italian language and International Relations at the University of Warwick. After spending a year in Italy, Olia settled in London, pursuing a journalistic career after completing her Master’s degree.

Following the financial crisis of 2008, Olia decided to quit her job as a film business reporter to pursue her dream to cook for a living.

She trained at the renowned Leiths School of Food and Wine and then worked as a chef de partie in restaurants, including Ottolenghi, and as a recipe developer before landing a book deal for Mamushka, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes, from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Mamushka won the prestigious Fortnum and Mason Award for best debut cookbook 2016. It has been translated into ten languages, and to date has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Olia was named the Observer Rising Star of 2015.

Her second cookbook is called Kaukasis: a culinary journey through Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond. It was published on August 10th in the UK and Australia and in October 2017 in the US, Canada, Germany and Poland.

Olia’s latest two cookbooks with Bloomsbury are Summer Kitchens, a book that explores Ukrainian regional cooking and Home Food, an ode to cooking for her family.

Olia lives in London with her sons Sasha and Wilf, and husband – fellow food writer and photographer Joe Woodhouse, writing, cooking and feeding her unceasing curiosity by researching food culture and culinary traditions of countries less explored.

The day after the Russians attacked Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, Olia co-founded a movement with her friend Alissa Timoshkina, called #CookForUkraine and to date they have raised over £2 million pounds for UNICEF, Legacy Of War Foundation and Choose Love.

They also received an award called Champions of Change from 50 Best Restaurants, as well as a grant. They have consequently set up an initiative called Ukraine Hub, where they provide free workshops (from cookery to flower arranging to intuitive drawing) for displaced Ukrainians in the UK.

Olia also runs an online cookery school and community through the Patreon subscription platform and posts videos of Ukrainian cooking and beyond on YouTube.

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Thursday 16 May
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Event Category:


The Wanstead Tap Ltd
352 Winchelsea Road
London, England E7 0AQ United Kingdom


The Wanstead Tap