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Against the Grain
Published:  17 February, 2017

Ali Dedianko might not be the obvious choice for the new face of london beer week but, as Holly Motion found out, she is an inspired one

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YOU COULD BE forgiven if your mind goes straight to premium vodka when looking at the beautiful and ballsy woman pictured here. For six years Ali Dedianko, the new boss of London Beer Week, run by Drink Up London, was Belvedere global ambassador, so her move to all things hops and a fixed address will come as a shock to some. But those who know her well will know Dedianko is not one to shy away from a challenge.

Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dedianko considers Baltimore her first home. “My mum is from there and my parents still live in the same house I grew up in. They actually met in Baltimore.” Strictly speaking, they met in the sky. Dedianko’s mother, a flight attendant, served her father on a plane.

Dedianko left Baltimore for New York to read European Studies at college. Her study choice was an obvious one after spending a year in Tuscany at the age of 15. “I’m sure my parents didn’t think I’d do the exchange,” she says. “I had to arrange it all myself and spoke zero Italian. It was kinda a jerk move on my part really. I should have done some research. When I got there I was like a child – they would hold things up and I would repeat them. I went to a normal school so I was like this weird kid that legitimately could not talk. But I learned so fast.”

She had to. Dedianko lived with a family who didn’t speak any English and a host mum who would not mollycoddle. “She was great, but she was one of those people that wouldn’t do things for me.”

Fluent in two more languages after her time in New York, Dedianko enrolled in a college in St Petersburg in 2006 to learn a third. “I studied the Russian language because my Ukrainian grandparents spoke Russian. They didn’t speak it to us and my dad doesn’t speak it but I was interested in that aspect of my heritage.” While working at Belvedere, Dedianko started to learn her fourth language, French.

TRAVEL BUG

To date, the 32-year-old has travelled to more than 50 countries. Inspired by her glamorous mother’s jetsetting, perhaps? “You know what, I have a really crippling fear of flying,” she confesses. Then surely she’s a glutton for punishment to take a job at Belvedere, which requires a flight a week? “I actually developed the phobia when I was 28,” she says. And the BA gold cardholder has been to great lengths to combat it, taking the airline’s fear of flying course.

“I hate it,” Dedianko says. “And I hate it even more because in every other aspect of my life I’m in control and I’m sure it’s linked to that. It’s like that trapped feeling. I’m not in control of the plane and if something goes wrong up here, we are [whispers] fucked.”