Celebrity Ukrainian chef opening new bistro in Chelsea staffed by refugees from Russian invasion

Yurii Kovryzhenko, a ‘culinary ambassador’ for Ukraine and his partner Olga Tsybytovska will open Mriya, which translates as dream, later this month.

A famous Ukrainian chef, who ended up stranded in London due to the war, is opening a new restaurant in Chelsea, which will be staffed by refugees from the Russian invasion.

Yurii Kovryzhenko, a ‘culinary ambassador’ for Ukraine and his partner Olga Tsybytovska will open Mriya, which translates as dream, on Old Brompton Road, later this month.

Olga Tsybytovska (left) and Yurii Kovryzhenko (right) will open Mriya this month

The couple had travelled to London from Kyiv, in February to cook and host a dinner at the Ukrainian Embassy, but were unable to return home due to Putin’s invasion of their country.

“When the war started we were in London on a short trip and on the second day of the war we realised that we had to do something,” Tsybytovska, 33, told LondonWorld.

“We have to help Ukrainians, we were feeling guilty for being in a safe place, as we were getting so much terrible news from home.

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“Our family and friends were sitting in shelters trying to escape.

“We came up with an idea to organise a fundraising event to cook Ukrainian cuisine to tell people about our country through the language of food.”

Ukrainian refugees fleeing Dnipro. Credit: MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Now they are continuing their work as ambassadors for Ukraine with their new restaurant.

The couple have posted messages to groups of Ukrainians in London on social networks to offer jobs to Ukrainian refugees.

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The name of the neo-bistro, near Earl’s Court, was inspired by collective dreams of ending the war and the personal dreams of Ukrainians.

“Mriya is a Ukrainian dream.

“For us we’re talking about a dream that every Ukrainian now shares, it’s a dream for victory, it’s a dream for peace, it’s a dream for Ukrainians to come home and live under a safe sky, to meet families and to restore the country,” said Tsybytovska.

Mriya is also the name of the world’s biggest aircraft, made in Ukraine, which was destroyed at Antonov airport near Kyiv in the early weeks of the war.

The very first plate of borsch in Mriya

As well as class dishes like borsch and chicken Kyiv, they will serve variations on local Ukrainian vegetables and food, such as courgette pancakes with stracciatella, and smoked trout and vinaigrette with strawberries on green pea cream and crayfish necks.

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The bar will serve Ukrainian wine and infused vodkas, and they will offer food and vodka pairings.

Kovryzhenko and Tsybytovska are hoping their new restaurant will be a “cultural centre” for Ukraine in the UK.

“We would love to fill this space with Ukrainian energy, we want to support Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes,” Tsybytovska continued.

“We know how difficult it is for them to rebuild their lives from scratch so we want to support them.

“We want this restaurant to be a cultural centre for Ukraine, we want to represent artworks by Ukrainian artists, ceramics, textiles.

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“It’s very important when you’re far away from home you feel like you still belong.”