Published 27 June 2022
by Josh Barrie
The Ukrainian chef Yurii Kovryzhenko and his partner Olga Tsybytovska will open their debut London restaurant in July after taking on a site in Brompton Road, Chelsea.
Mriya, which translates as ‘dream’, will serve classic and contemporary Ukrainian food and will be staffed by refugees who have been forced to leave home due to the war with Russia.
Yurii and Olga have funded the restaurant themselves with the help of several investors from the UK and Ukraine.
Yurii told CODE: ‘Mriya means dream in Ukrainian, and we as a nation are dreaming of victory, and the opportunity to host people again. We want to share our culture.
‘Historically, Ukrainians are real dreamers. In that sense the restaurant is exciting, because it’s the start of a story, the realisation of a dream.
‘The Russians can destroy our homes, but not our dreams.’
Yurii, a celebrity chef back home and an official ambassador for the country’s cuisine, said he and Olga had only planned to visit London for a short time when war with Russia broke out.
In February, just days before Russian troops invaded, the couple were in London to host a dinner at the Ukrainian Embassy. Unable to return, they have remained in the UK since and have been central to fundraising efforts.
‘Of course, we wanted to go home,’ Yurii told CODE. ‘At first we just didn’t know what to do. It was all scary and very sad.
‘In the end, we had to stay at the embassy, and decided we would use our situation to fundraise and support the war effort by raising awareness and campaigning.
‘Our family and friends are back home and we talk to them every day. We’re excited now to be able to open the restaurant and provide work for refugees who have come here. I hope it provides support and a community’.
On the menu at Mriya will be dishes such as borscht with duck and pampushky (Ukrainian garlic buns) and chicken Kyiv with caramelised vegetables.
The restaurant will also have a designated room for the fermentation of vegetables and fruits.
‘Fermentation is an integral part of Ukrainian cuisine’, Yurii said.
The exact location of the 37-cover (shared between a dining room and terrace) restaurant, and the opening date, are currently under wraps. More soon.