Photos by Lee Pellegrini

The Sweetest Thing

With a new bakery, Ilona Znakharchuck ’21 honors her Ukrainian ancestry. 

Students pick up all kinds of jobs during their time at Boston College, but not many of them involve selling delicately crafted macarons to their classmates. Ilona Znakharchuk ’21 came up with the unusual idea after visiting the macaron shop of a family friend in Ukraine the summer before her sophomore year. “She gave me a few of her recipes to play around with and was just very encouraging and inspiring,” Znakharchuk said. “And that semester I started making macarons and giving them to my roommates.” Eventually, she said, one of her roommates told her, “you have to stop giving these to us and start selling them.” She did, at two dollars per cookie. 

Today, that business has become Solodko Bakery, a Brighton shop that’s captured plenty of attention since it opened last year, including being featured in the Boston Globe and written up as one of the best new bakeries in the city by Boston magazine. Now Solodko, which is the Ukrainian word for “sweet,” has expanded beyond the French cookies that gave it its start. Znakharchuk, who came to the US from Ukraine as a child, makes an array of Ukrainian-inspired pastries, as well as impeccably decorated cakes for birthdays, weddings, and other special events. She studied mathematics at BC and learned about the baking business by taking some online courses and interning at Jonquils Café & Bakery, on Boston’s Newbury Street, before working there full-time as a pastry chef. At Jonquils, she learned from pastry chef Dmitriy Shurygin. “Watching him work and how he structured his work process really helped me to develop a personal style and a personal collection of recipes and creams and fillings that I like to work with,” Znakharchuk said. 

Znakharchuk co-owns the shop with her sister, Irina, and they have two employees. She typically makes between seven and fifteen cakes a week, depending on how busy things get, with each cake taking up to twenty total hours. Here’s a look at how she makes the Anya cake, complete with carefully crumpled edible paper and gold foil. 

Sequence of photos showing Ilona in the process of making and decorating a cake

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