A war like that changes everything. Just over two months ago, 25 people were still working in the Mirali restaurant in Kiev. Now three of them are on the road in Germany, cooking for the Ukraine in starred restaurants together with the teams there. This Sunday evening they are guests in the Munich mural, together with chef Joshua Leise and his people. The Mirali restaurant is located in a commercial area in Kyiv and is now closed, says chef Mirali Dilbazi. Fine dining, nobody needs that there now. But in Germany you can at least earn a little money and support those who don’t earn anything at home in the Ukraine.
Mirali Dilbazi, 28, laughs a little bitterly when asked about his relatives. “My parents come from Azerbaijan and also live there,” he says, “otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Because most of his kitchen team are now in the army, he says, like all Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60. For example, instead of working in a fine-dining restaurant, they now work in a field kitchen. But Dilbazi is traveling in Germany with the young chef Misha Csihalus and his restaurant manager Elena Lysytska to collect money for the Goodwine company, which has been cooking 400 free meals a day in Kyiv for the needy and providing humanitarian aid since the beginning of the war.
Lysytska had fled to Berlin in February and found accommodation with Billy Wagner, the chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant she was friends with, Nobelhart & Schmutzig. Wagner used his contacts to like-minded restaurateurs and so gourmets in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich can support the Ukrainians and at the same time get to know avant-garde cuisine from Kyiv. It’s not far from the one here, because the principles of the Mirali are: pure product cuisine with local food, organically produced and sustainably processed, also fermented if you like.
“Our dream is,” says Lysytska, “to invite everyone involved to our restaurant in Kyiv after the war.” That, she hopes, may be the case in the near future. They are encouraged by the fact that they have made many new friends on their tour of Germany who are willing to help.
“We didn’t know the Mirali before either,” says Joshua Leise, the 27-year-old chef de cuisine at Mural, “but of course we got involved right away.” The German restaurants provide staff, food and drinks, so the net proceeds from the menus go to Ukraine. One way or another, the evening is a win for everyone, because when do you ever have the opportunity to experience the really unbelievable variety of tastes of pickled celery with a black hazelnut sauce?