In this episode we ring in the new year with a special conversation with Elena DeYoung, the owner of Alyonka Russian Cuisine. Alyonka is possibly our favorite restaurant in the Treasure Valley, and Elena was instrumental in making it memorable from our very first visit. Through the many times we’ve dined there, we’re grateful to count Elena and her wonderful husband, Dan, as friends. We were honored to have them in our home recently to share Elena’s story as an immigrant from Kazakhstan, as an Idahoan and business owner, and as a local celebrity, having been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri.
This is less a feature on Alyonka specifically, and more a conversation about dedication, community, spousal support, and building relationships and connecting generations through food. Although the food itself is remarkable on its own, what’s more interesting is how it introduced us to an amazing intergenerational and cross-cultural story. Elena is a truly wonderful human and an exemplar of hard work and pursuing your passion to the benefit of a community. We discuss how we met, her immigration and establishment in the United States, starting a business at the onset of Covid, how she sees food and the experience of sharing it and eating it, her deserved success in being featured on national television, and the support and hostility she has experienced as a Russian-American during the course of the Ukrainian-Russian war. Integral to all of this is her relationship with Dan. It’s inspiring to see how proud and supportive he is of her and how his deep commitment has magnified her success.
We hope you enjoy this episode. And with that, we bring you a conversation with Elena and Dan DeYoung.