n 1999, folk singer and choreographer Valentina Kvasova, came to New York City with her dance troupe to perform as part of a 3-month tour. She always had dreams of stardom, basking in the bright lights of Broadway, thanks to the musical influences of her father and mother (who led the Don Cossack Ensemble as Artistic and Choir Directors). At the end of her tour, she decided to settle in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and learn English.
In the more than two decades that followed as a U.S. Citizen, Valentina formed her own folk singing club, The Russian Social Singing Club, is a member of the Ukrainian Village Voices Choir, has released several folk song albums (based on the collection of folk songs left from her father and mother) and offers dance performances across the United States.
As a way of remembering her home city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, her Cossack, Russian, Ukrainian and Polish heritage, and in honoring her late father, she cooks his secret recipe for Borscht, a hearty vegetable soup made from boiled red beets, cabbage, yellow carrots, onions parsnips, celery, beans and other familiar herbs and seasonings like dill and parsley. A dollop of smetana (sour cream) completes the five sensations of flavors in one bowl: spiciness, saltiness, tartness, tanginess and sweetness. Together with boiled Vareniky (Ukrainian pierogis), it's a healthy meal Valentina used to prepare with her dad while listening to Chopin, a nod to her Polish heritage.