Sophie Laliashvili-Belenky, 29, is a talented and gutsy young woman.She was born in the Eastern European country of Georgia and speaks Georgian, English, Russian and some Hebrew and Arabic.“It is not uncommon for people from Europe to speak several languages,” she said.Laliashvili-Belenky grew up with a love of dance and music. She took dance lessons for many years and was part of the Georgian National Ballet. Founded in 1945 by Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili, the ballet was the first professional state dance company in Georgia, according to its website.“It was a thrill for me to be part of the dance company. I loved it,” Laliashvili-Belenky said.Laliashvili-Belenky received a full scholarship to the University of Art and Culture in Tbilisi, Georgia, and planned to get her degree in fine arts expertise and impressionism.During her second year there, she met and fell in love with an American who had been in the Peace Corps. They married, and Laliashvili-Belenky moved to the U.S.The couple eventually ended up in Charlotte, but the marriage didn’t last.Laliashvili-Belenky wasn’t sure what was ahead. To make herself feel more comfortable, she started cooking – and discovered she really enjoyed it.She shared her foods with neighbors and friends, and they were so impressed that they suggested she cook professionally.“One day at the Starbucks in Birkdale Village, I met Stephen Belenky, the man who became the love of my life. After about 18 months, we married. That was five years ago, and I’ve never been happier,” Laliashvili-Belenky said.The couple lives near South End.Laliashvili-Belenky got a job in the kitchen of Roosters Restaurant in SouthPark and learned a lot. After almost a year, she was offered a full-time position at Bistro La Bon on Central Avenue.“I loved what I was doing, but after a year and a half, working opposite hours as my husband began to take its toll. I wanted to be able to work with food but still spend time with Stephen,” Laliashvili-Belenky said.She had done some catering for friends on the side and decided it was time to build her business. Word of mouth has grown her catering business, Hot Tomato, into a full meal delivery service.“I use a certified facility in South End for my food preparation and change the menu weekly. I always have options of protein, vegetables, starch and salad,” she said. Laliashvili-Belenky also works part-time at the women’s boutique, L.A. East, in Blakeney Shopping Center.
Friday, Aug. 09, 2013
Talented cook dances around the kitchen
Karen Scioscia is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Karen? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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