New restaurant brings a taste of Ukraine to Wisconsin

A spread of Touch of Ukraine's food, including chicken Kiev (left) and mlyntsi (right). Credit: BRAVA Magazine

By Christina Lorey

February 29, 2024

In November 2022, Katya Temchenko arrived in Madison as a refugee from southeastern Ukraine. A year-and-a-half later, she’s serving her country’s classics to her new neighbors.

Touch of Ukraine” serves a blend of Ukrainian cuisine and popular American dishes in Madison’s new Union Corners housing and commercial development complex on the city’s near-east side. Katya helps run the restaurant as a manager, server, and bartender and has hired a primarily Ukrainian staff to help her. One worked as a manager for Ukraine’s largest bread producer before the invasion.

The restaurant’s biggest hits (so far)? Meat and potato dumplings, stuffed peppers, and chicken Kyiv (breaded chicken stuffed with herb butter.) Katya also serves drinks made with Ukrainian vodka, which has a smoother feel. (We recommend the Kyiv Mule: a cocktail of Ukrainian vodka, ginger beer, and lime.)

PICTURES: Mouthwatering Meals from ‘Touch of Ukraine’

But Katya hasn’t forgotten her roots. Before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, she lived in Zaporizhzhia, a city of about 700,000 people located along the Dnieper River in southeastern Ukraine. Although the city currently remains under Ukraine’s control, it’s just a few miles from Russian-occupied territory and is subject to Russian missile strikes. Katya’s mom still lives there.

“I didn’t want to leave my home right away, but winter was coming, and the shelling was tougher each day,” Katya said in an interview with The Cap Times. “I made the difficult decision to leave my home with one suitcase and one backpack.”

How To Help

“Touch of Ukraine” donates a portion of its profits to non-profits helping with the war efforts, including United24 (the Ukrainian government’s official fundraising organization) and the Masha Fund (which helps women and children.)

If you’re near Madison, stop by the restaurant (open Tuesday through Saturday) for a delicious meal, or give directly to one of the organizations helping on the ground in Ukraine.

There’s also an interesting story behind how Katya’s restaurant got its prime location in an up-and-coming Capitol City neighborhood. Click here to read about that!

MORE: 4 Hidden Restaurants in Southern Wisconsin Worth the Drive


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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