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  • Zhenya Mykhailenko

1 VS 60

Updated: May 27, 2022


It’s been 60 days since the beginning of the full-scale attack on our country. Our Armed Forces have done everything possible and impossible to protect us. Our politicians, for the most part, did only the impossible - they stopped fighting with each other.


My company and I personally represent only a tiny fraction of businesses, volunteers, and civilians, and I want to report our small achievements.


If we assume (and I am sure that there are hundreds of these stories along the front line) that at least 0.01% of restaurant entrepreneurs in Ukraine, in 2019 there were 48,398 of them (according to the portal economy and state 2021 "dynamics of the development of the hospitality industry in Ukraine on the example of the hotel and restaurant industry"), had similar success- we can draw a very rough conclusion: the restaurant sector in the number of 48 enterprises potentially undertook cooking for the military - today there are 72,000 military personnel, whom they feed three times a day.


Later this math will become more understandable if you take the time to read. So pour yourself a cup of tea, this is gonna take a while…


Business.


Let's start with the company and people who made all this possible: LLC "FVSM.net" (aka FVSM. net or Food vs Marketing) in alliance with the bakery Хліб & Soul and our responsible land lords, who have been helping us since the first day of a full-scale russian invasion. We were in over our heads and war was the last thing that we needed. You can see this from the chart below.


Let’s go back a few years to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been taking its toll on us since the beginning of 2020, when we started expanding our restaurant chain.The expansion has been running on fumes for the last two years, culminating at the end of 2021, when we had to stop completely restructure our network, optimizing the staff and most of the production processes.


At the beginning of 2022, we barely stabilized our performance and successfully ordered Japanese noodle making equipment. This machinery was supposed to give us an edge over the competition in terms of quality, while reducing the cost of labor. If successful, this plan would allow us to finally start paying off the loans that have formed during the pandemic. This became impossible, thanks to the russians.

On the day of the invasion, we opened all the restaurants while rockets were falling on Kyiv. After lunch, it became clear that all businesses were fucked. Our employees who had families to take care of, evacuated them, and returned to volunteer for Dumbledoor’s Army. The world has rapidly changed and we had to change along with it. This is the hand we were dealt:


- we had no working capital since the cash from the weekend sales was used to purchase food supplies for the coming week. The only cash we had was from Tuesday sales. (Worst income day of the week);


- warehouses were full, since we basically had no business;


- 15% of our staff who remained in the city and did not evacuate, 90% of whom never had formal culinary training and had never cooked anything except for ramen;


- our restaurant group hit the maximum credit load mark at 18 000 000 UAH;


- we owe another 500 000 UAH in employee salaries that we had to put on hold because we couldn’t pay them out;


- 10% of January utility bills and lease payments were not settled at the time of February 24, so this can also be added to the pile.


All this could have been resolved according to our plan if not for the full stop in these conditions, which visually looks like a test drive dummy hitting a concrete wall at full speed.


Volunteer To Survive.


The invasion made it impossible to pay salaries, which we immediately announced to everyone while adding that we’re not just going to sit and wait for the russians to kill us. We had no alternatives: Fight or flight. Stay to do what? With this thought on my mind, I woke up on February 25th (see another photo below).


Lyrical Digression. In 2014, I took part in the revolution of dignity, saw people burning in the House of Trade Unions, how one by one they stacked the corpses of the Heavenly Hundred along the main post office on February 20-21st, how our troops left for Donbass and how we lost Crimea. In 2015, I worked at several restaurants in Mariupol to the sounds of artillery near the city and was engaged in rehabilitation at the center for war veterans. This was not an anti-terrorist operation (as some people from our government claim) this was the beginning of a fucking war and our russophobia is still insufficient.


This was all before I built Ramen in March 2016. This war and russians existence has always been part of my personal plan of action and development. It so happened that despite the fact that I am a “redneck who does not filter what I say, I am a patriot. I know how, can and, most importantly, have experience cooking for tens of thousands of people a day. This is what sets me apart from most chefs in Ukraine, who have experience serving several hundred people a day, at best. I gained this experience in the United States. I was just lucky. End of the lyrical digression.


When I woke up on February 25th on a cardboard box mattress, I figured out what we could do. There was no point in leaving food in our warehouses for the russians, so they had to either be burned or used against russians in favor of the armed forces of Ukraine. This is how all entrepreneurs who were under threat of occupation in the event of the defeat of the armed forces of Ukraine reasoned. Having consolidated all the warehouses in our procurement shop, we developed the first menus. All the products in our warehouses over the next two weeks turned into dishes for our fighters, who were in a light shock when they received noodles with broths for lunch. For the next two weeks, I personally slept an average of less than 4 hours a day, trying to do everything in my power to fulfill all the orders that fell on us.

Where did these orders come from? Luck. It's luck that most of my friends and acquaintances are as loyal patriots as I am. People that don't run away from the enemy. People that destroy russians and protect our country.


Dumbledore's army formed seamlessly. As one doctor said: "I see a child who was bullied and not allowed to grow up, so they compensate for this in professional activities." I'm happy that my lack of meaningless social skills helps me perform better on work tasks. Our task was to use what we had to do what was needed. That’s what we did for 60 days and that’s what we continue to do every day. We'll never give up.


General information about providing our forces with food.


...Before the full-scale invasion, our regular army had about 242,000 active troops. In order to stop the enemy and continue to do this systematically, in an organized and effective manner along the entire front line (and this is fucking important), we need to increase this number of forces three times.


Considering how many FSB officers, supporters of the russian world and separatists there are still throughout the territory of our country, the number of the police and the SBU also need to be significantly increased. This is of course my personal and unconfirmed opinion, but if we do not want to lose tens of thousands of our soldiers and civilians in this conflict, we need to increase the number of untrained and organized defenders with weapons by almost 1 million and do it as quickly as possible. Approx. millions of patriots ready to defend our country - this is not a problem for us.


What we had significant problems with before was the chefs. This is a low-paid, unpopular, difficult, boring and hopeless profession in most countries. Educated parents often dissuade their children from this path. At best, you will earn less than a thousand dollars for the rest of your life, which is why most of those who got into this profession through popular shows or after watching enough movies - immediately get inspired to become chefs... it's just a cunt to be honest but fuck it. So, according to the US military charter (one of the most powerful in the culinary sense states, where there is culinary training and the best teachers & restaurants in the world), for every 126,000 military personnel, there are 500 chefs. That is, even in order to double our armed forces, we need 1000 professional trained chefs with equipment, considering an ideal layout. This is 1 chef for every 250 people.


Have you ever tried to cook something for 250 people from unprocessed foods ?? Like cooking raw carrots, whole chicken, or at least porridge for 250 people? Have you tried to do this systematically at least once, three times a day for a week, for example? Today is the 60th day - if you haven't forgotten. I'm just trying to chew up the scale of tragedy and explain all these photos of volunteers who are cooking. By the way, not all volunteers kept their enthusiasm and motivation until the 60th day. Most of them are already exhausted and curse the day they took part in this story.


Cooking food on this level is not fucking easy, even when you've been doing it for decades, and doing it at a military pace is a different story altogether. Doing it efficiently and safely - oooh well, that is another dimension. You can't even imagine taking care of your fellow soldiers on the front line in a field kitchen if you've never stood over a dugout coffin doing so.


Have you figured out what problems we will have with this in the long term ? Super! Now try to imagine your irritability when you haven't eaten for a day, or two or three days ? And at the same time, you run 10 km every day. Just imagine for a moment. The last thing I want to see is our defenders in the place of russians who are chasing chickens around yards like in that video. So I didn't even try to run after the machine gun. There are things that the enemy can do to our army even without engaging in battle and we can't give the enemy this chance. We can't help but think about these things.


Alliance of Dumbledoor’s Army and Business Today.

...You can easily find details about how these days went on my page and on the site that I will indicate in the comments. This post is already too long to talk about how upset we were. What we have built is much more important today, when the war is still going on and it has become clear that it will not end as long as the russian world exists next to us. This is our new reality, and we all need to make an "adjustment" to our individual and business plans with this in mind (as I did back in 2014). Behind our fence lives an empire of necromancers who worship death, rape, and torture. The Ukrainian reality will not be grey in the near future, but only black and white. One that protects civilians from those who take them to camps, rape and torture them.



The absence of this "grey" in our lives can and should be used to our advantage. This is a chance to get rid of Soviet shackles, stereotypes and propaganda in our brains in the shortest time possible. There are those who do everything to protect our country. There are those who take photos. There are those who run away. There are those who help the enemy. Who we are - you have to find out for yourself:


- all the capacities and resources of the business that were under the leadership of our restaurant group, we began to use from the first day in favour of the armed forces of Ukraine;


- all employees in the active staff of the company are fully aware that we cannot and will not be able to pay salary for their work if we do not win. This did not stop them and they are all doing everything they can on a volunteer basis;


- I personally have done, am doing and will continue to do everything that depends on me to preserve the created business, fulfil the responsibilities of the business to investors, creditors and employees. Back on March 30, we started restoring the operation of our business in parallel with our volunteer activities. The existence of both directions is necessary for further work;


Today, the Dumbledore's Army alliance involves: a bakery, a soup making shop, a sandwich making shop, a primary raw material processing and order collection shop, storage warehouses, a mobile kitchen, logistic volunteers and independent logistics associations that deliver and evacuate where many people can't even imagine. We have reached the peak of production capacity by delivering 1.2 tons of ready-made food per day to 1,500 defenders of various parts. This is still not enough calories for a full-fledged diet, this what the leadership of the armed forces of Ukraine dictates to US, based on what was written (in most cases this was even before the collapse of the USSR, and simply translated in the 2000s without giving a fuck) We will also change this.


- negotiations are underway with DTEK through the military-civil administration to postpone and/or reduce the cost of electricity used, totalling more than UAH 500,000;


- a legal group is being organized to develop and sign an agreement or a whole draft law with the Ministry of Defence, which will make it possible to systematically compensate small and medium-sized businesses for the resources spent. Moreover, such decentralization and organization of relations will allow our army to simply forget about hunger, and our volunteers will not have to give the latter to the defenders who should be provided by the state;


- fundraising, humanitarian aid and tactical food campaigns are underway in the United States, Korea, Taiwan, Israel and Ukraine. Thanks to these funds, we handed over a dozen tons of products to civilians and military personnel who were not included in our ready meals counter. These funds have supported our existence all this time and allow us to plan for future supplies to our defenders;


- developed menu and technologies for military units of a fundamentally new level of quality and caloric value. A menu that can fundamentally change military logistics. To be precise, now on an area of 1500m2, the staff of more or less qualified cooks is less than 10 (who are helped by about 20 more volunteers daily), using equipment that is not adapted for these volumes, using only 110 kW of total power. We do what the military describes as impossible witchcraft;


- we have already partially found and continue to look for partners in Cherkasy - Kremenchuk - Dnipro - Zaporizhia - Nikopol - Kherson to reproduce a similar work plan. As a manager, I am absolutely sure that hybrid associations between business volunteers and the armed forces of Ukraine are not just a solution to temporary problems. This is a strategic decision that will relieve the budget, while providing the logistics service of the armed forces of Ukraine with such speed and mobility that they have never had before;


- LLC "FVSM" under my leadership has never tried and will not try to use the war as an excuse or a way to avoid responsibility. The whole time of our existence, we have religiously paid all our debts, which we plan to do in the future. All financial institutions, lenders and employees (both those who work for us now and those who have left) can count on compensation in accordance with the priorities of payments and waiting lists. The only reason for our failure to fulfill these duties is the complete shutdown of our group of companies. I'm doing everything possible and impossible to make sure this never happens.


All former employees who are not satisfied with this position of our company and who try to manipulate the opinion of society, creating scandals, passing off our temporary insolvency as deception - will not achieve anything. The company's management has a long history and reputation for fulfilling all financial obligations since 2015, has a respectable supervisory board and an investment group that can attest to our integrity. Any unjustified and aggressive behaviour on social media from couch critics will be blocked by our administration, according to my personal order.


In 2014, I returned to my home in Kyiv, where my family has been living for hundreds of years. We have built our lives and reputation here for generations, and I plan to continue working for my city and for my country, doing what I know best. My actions speak for me. I never hid from anyone or deceived anyone. I can tell you to fuck off, but...


...there will definitely be reasons for that. I'm from Ukraine.

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