A Ukrainian Chef Is Opening This New London Restaurant With Refugees

As the war in Ukraine rages on, many of its people have had to abruptly leave their homes. The United Nations reports that roughly 12 million people have had to abandon their properties and more than five million have had to relocate to neighboring countries, per BBC. As Russia continues its invasion of the country, many Ukrainians have had to completely restart their lives in a foreign country.

For those that have fled to London, they are thankful to be safe, but many still don't speak the language and it's tough to find work, according to CNN. This is where chef Yurii Kovryzhenko and Olga Tsybytovska come in. The famous chef and his partner are planning to open a new restaurant in August, called Mriya.

The restaurant will feature upscale gastronomy from their home country of Ukraine and will also have another unique factor. The pair plans to staff their eatery with displaced Ukrainians. Kovryzhenko said after posting job openings on social media for the bistro, they were inundated with messages from refugees seeking work. "It's very sad to speak to those people," he told the news outlet. "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 U.K.]."

A safe haven for Ukrainian refugees

Mriya will feature staple Ukraine entrees with a twist, like borscht, fermented vegetables, courgette flowers and courgette pancakes, per The Guardian. The bar will also have the country's flair, serving Ukrainian wine and infused vodkas. Once Mriya is profitable, the bistro also plans to donate a percentage of its income to nonprofits that are helping those that have been impacted by the Russian invasion, per CNN.

For Tsybytovska, the mission of this restaurant is ultimately very personal. The renowned chef is originally from Ukraine and his parents and brother are still currently in the war-torn country. He said because of this he can't relax anymore, but he's hoping to help others through his eatery. Tsybytovska explained the name of the eatery — Mriya — means "dream" in Ukrainian.

"Many Ukrainian families are now living apart in different parts of the world," Tsybytovska told CNN. "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."