Ukrainian chef to launch London restaurant staffed by refugees

Ukrainian chef to launch London restaurant staffed by refugees

(CNN) — Thought of a “culinary ambassador” for Ukraine, famend chef Yurii Kovryzhenko has spent

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

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

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

“After I was closing the door of my house, I assumed that I’d be again in 10 days,” Tsybytovska, who beforehand labored in restaurant advertising and marketing, tells CNN Journey. “However life is so unpredictable.”

Championing Ukrainian delicacies

Mriya will serve Ukraine's national dish borsch, a soup made with beetroot, which was recently added to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.

Mriya will serve Ukraine’s nationwide dish borsch, a soup made with beetroot, which was not too long ago 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 boost funds for these affected by the battle, they determined to launch Mriya.

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

“I need the individuals who come right here to really feel like I do after I’m in a [food] market in different international locations,” explains Kovryzhenko, a number one determine within the sluggish meals motion.

“I need them to find one thing new — a brand new style. I need them to fall in love with Ukrainian meals.”

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

When Mriya opens its doorways, he’ll be serving up Ukrainian meals constituted of British merchandise with a “contact” of the influences he is picked up in different international locations.

In keeping with Kovryzhenko, Ukrainian meals has a whole lot of similarities with British meals, equivalent to an absence of “aggressive spices,” in addition to a keenness for pork, dill and horseradish.

“The style and the flavour are very related,” he says. “However on the similar time, the [cooking] strategies are completely totally different. So I feel will probably be very fascinating.”

The principle menu is to encompass round 25 dishes, whereas a tasting menu may also be out there, 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 associate Olga Tsybytovska at their London restaurant, Mriya.

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

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

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

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

“It [the aircraft] means rather a lot to Ukrainians,” says Tsybytovska. “It exhibits how gifted Ukrainian individuals will be.”

In fact, Mriya additionally displays the easy want for peace and the restoration of on a regular basis life that they and Ukrainians like them share.

“Many Ukrainian households are actually dwelling aside in several elements of the world,” says Tsybytovska. “And so they dream of coming again residence and sleeping underneath a secure sky. Of getting their homes again, restoring the nation, and to return again to a earlier life.”

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

Apart from conventional delicacies, Mriya may also showcase artwork and furnishings by Ukrainian artists and designers.

“We are going to give the area a Ukrainian contact and fill it with Ukrainian power as a lot as we are able to,” provides Tsybytovska.

Each imagine that Ukraine has the potential to develop into a prime 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 needs the restaurant to develop into “the meals embassy of Ukraine within the UK.”

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

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

“I wish to make this place a gastronomic embassy of Ukraine,” he says. “The meals embassy of Ukraine within the UK.”

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

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

“It is very unhappy to talk to these individuals,” says Tsybytovska. “As a result of a few of them are lecturers, a few of them are medical doctors and dentists, however they do not communicate English and their levels aren’t acknowledged right here [in the UK].”

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

Though Mriya is proving to be a constructive distraction, the truth of what’s occurring again residence isn’t removed from their ideas.

“My dad and mom and my brother stayed in Ukraine,” says Tsybytovska. “So I can’t be relaxed anymore.”

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

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

Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

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

Whereas 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 am undecided that there is wherever else on the planet the place we’d have had the chance to take action many issues,” admits Tsybytovska.

Though the couple say they’ve realized to not plan too far forward, they hope to return to Ukraine when it is secure to take action, 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 searching ahead to welcoming their first diners.

“We wish to create one thing actually, actually new,” says Tsybytovska. “It has roots in our tradition, however for locals will probably be one thing new for certain.”

Mriya, 275 Previous Brompton Highway, London SW5 9JA

High picture credit score: Elena Bazu and Dmitriy Novikov

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