HomeTravelUkrainian chef to launch London restaurant staffed by refugees

Ukrainian chef to launch London restaurant staffed by refugees

(CNN) — Considered a “culinary ambassador” for Ukraine, famend chef Yurii Kovryzhenko has spent years championing the nationwide gastronomy of his house nation all over the world.

Now Kovryzhenko, who’s beforehand run eating places in South Korea and Georgia, in addition to Ukraine, is making ready to open a neo-bistro-style institution in London that shall be staffed by Ukrainian refugees.

He and his companion Olga Tsybytovska will launch Mriya in London’s upscale Chelsea neighborhood later this month. But to say this newest enterprise has arisen out of inauspicious circumstances is one thing of an understatement.

The couple had been visiting the UK capital from Kyiv for an occasion on the Embassy of Ukraine when Russia invaded their homeland again in February. They’ve been within the metropolis ever since.

“When I was closing the door of my apartment, I thought that I would be back in 10 days,” Tsybytovska, who beforehand labored in restaurant advertising and marketing, tells CNN Travel. “But life is so unpredictable.”

Championing Ukrainian delicacies

Mriya will serve Ukraine’s nationwide dish borsch, a soup made with beetroot, which was lately added to UNESCO’s record of intangible cultural heritage in want of pressing safeguarding.

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

After spending months teaming up with well-known British cooks, together with Richard Corrigan and Jason Atherton, to elevate funds for these affected by the conflict, they determined to launch Mriya.

The restaurant will provide traditional Ukrainian dishes equivalent to borsch, (or borscht) with a contemporary twist, in addition to specialties like fermented watermelon and golubtsi (cabbage rolls) produced from courgette flowers.

“I want the people who come here to feel like I do when I’m in a [food] market in other countries,” explains Kovryzhenko, a number one determine within the sluggish meals motion.

“I want them to discover something new — a new taste. I want them to fall in love with Ukrainian food.”

Kovryzhenko makes use of native merchandise moderately than importing meals merchandise from Ukraine to be sure that there’s some acquainted tastes for diners.

When Mriya opens its doorways, he’ll be serving up Ukrainian meals produced from British merchandise with a “touch” of the influences he is picked up in different nations.

According to Kovryzhenko, Ukrainian meals has quite a lot of similarities with British meals, equivalent to a scarcity of “aggressive spices,” in addition to a passion for pork, dill and horseradish.

“The taste and the flavor are very similar,” he says. “But at the same time, the [cooking] techniques are totally different. So I think it will be very interesting.”

The foremost menu is to include round 25 dishes, whereas a tasting menu can even be accessible, together with the choice of an infused vodka or wine pairing.

Fermented greens and fruits, closely used inside Ukrainian delicacies, shall be featured considerably — the restaurant has its personal devoted fermented room.

Shared dream

Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko and his partner Olga Tsybytovska at their London restaurant, Mriya.

Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko and his companion Olga Tsybytovska at their London restaurant, Mriya.

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

Kovryzhenko and Tsybytovska say they selected the identify Mriya, which implies “dream” in Ukrainian, for a mess of causes.

Not solely does it signify their shared dream of taking Ukrainian meals to the following stage on the worldwide stage, it was additionally the identify of the world’s largest jet aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, which Ukrainian officers confirmed was destroyed during the invasion.

Designed within the Eighties by the Antonov Design Bureau within the Soviet Union, the aircraft had lengthy been a supply of nationwide satisfaction for residents of the nation — Ukrainian plane engineer Petro Balabuyev was the lead designer for the undertaking.

“It [the aircraft] means a lot to Ukrainians,” says Tsybytovska. “It shows how talented Ukrainian people can be.”

Of course, Mriya additionally displays the straightforward want for peace and the restoration of on a regular basis life that they and Ukrainians like them share.

“Many Ukrainian families are now living apart in different parts of the world,” says Tsybytovska. “And they dream of coming back home and sleeping under a safe sky. Of getting their houses back, restoring the country, and to come back to a previous life.”

The couple hope that the restaurant will develop into a gathering level for Ukrainians and different refugees in London, and plan to use a bit of the downstairs space as a mingling spot on Fridays and Saturdays.

Aside from conventional delicacies, Mriya can even showcase artwork and furnishings by Ukrainian artists and designers.

“We will give the space a Ukrainian touch and fill it with Ukrainian energy as much as we can,” provides Tsybytovska.

Both consider that Ukraine has the potential to develop into a high meals journey vacation spot, and are massively enthusiastic about showcasing their nationwide delicacies in a gastronomic capital like London.

‘Gastronomic embassy’

Kovryzhenko says he wants the restaurant to become "the food embassy of Ukraine in the UK."

Kovryzhenko says he desires the restaurant to develop into “the food embassy of Ukraine in the UK.”

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

In reality, Kovryzhenko goals to provide Ukrainian cooking masterclasses on the venue, situated a brief drive away from the Embassy of Ukraine, sooner or later.

“I want to make this place a gastronomic embassy of Ukraine,” he says. “The food embassy of Ukraine in the UK.”

Since promoting for employees on numerous social networks, they have been inundated with requests from Ukrainian refugees in London who’re determined for work.

However, lots of those that’ve responded don’t converse a lot English, whereas some are nonetheless ready to for his or her official paperwork to come by means of, so it is proving to be a problematic course of.

“It’s very sad to speak to those people,” says Tsybytovska. “Because some of them are teachers, some of them are doctors and dentists, but they don’t speak English and their degrees are not recognized here [in the UK].”

Despite these difficulties, the couple say they continue to be dedicated to staffing the restaurant with displaced Ukrainians.

Although Mriya is proving to be a constructive distraction, the fact of what’s occurring again house isn’t removed from their ideas.

“My parents and my brother stayed in Ukraine,” says Tsybytovska. “So I cannot be relaxed anymore.”

Fermented fruit and vegetables will be a prominent fixture on the menu.

Fermented fruit and greens shall be a distinguished fixture on the menu.

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

If and when Mriya turns a revenue, a proportion shall be donated to charities supporting these affected by the invasion of Ukraine.

While their prolonged keep in London was unplanned, each say they really feel very fortunate to be the place they’re and have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of assist and assist they’ve acquired.

“I’m not sure that there’s anywhere else in the world where we would have had the opportunity to do so many things,” admits Tsybytovska.

Although the couple say they’ve discovered not to plan too far forward, they hope to return to Ukraine when it is secure to accomplish that, and maybe even open up one other Mriya over there.

For now, they’re focusing their energies into the brand new restaurant, which is scheduled to open on August 2, and looking out ahead to welcoming their first diners.

“We want to create something really, really new,” says Tsybytovska. “It has roots in our culture, but for locals it will be something new for sure.”

Mriya, 275 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9JA

Top picture credit score: Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov



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