Why They’re Interesting: The Ukrainian-born brother-and-sister duo spent six years as owners of the acclaimed and wildly popular modern European restaurant Bear in New York City. Last year, they returned to Cleveland to focus their food-based talents where they were raised. Natasha, who most recently served as executive chef at Sterle’s Country House, and Alex, who previously worked as director of operations at Hub 55 in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood, now have their sights set on their own culinary ventures.
Food Appeal: With years of menu design and restaurant planning experience, they have a simple approach to food. “Forget what’s trendy,” says Natasha. “Instead, focus on what’s accessible. Our success has been built on familiar flavors — modern with centuries of history.”
The Good Stuff: Take a dish she calls The Clevelander, for example. It’s lasagna stuffed with cabbage, kraut and kielbasa from the West Side Market. “It’s a dish I created specifically to honor this city,” she says.
Service With a Smile: They see service as one potential area of improvement for the Cleveland restaurant scene. “Cleveland has quickly reached a great culinary level,” observes Alex. “Servers need to have as much knowledge and commitment to what’s on the plate as the chefs who are creating the food.”
Two Mixers: Alex has a bit of his own notoriety for mixing flavors. “I invented the St. Dill vodka martini with house-cured pickles and brine, fresh dill and mustard seeds,” says Alex. “It became famous in New York City,” beams Natasha.
Kitchens to Campfires: To escape the restaurant scene, the siblings love spending time in nature especially the West Creek Reservation in Parma. “Give us greenery, some Ukrainian tea, and time to chill and we are all set,” says Natasha.
The Next Course: While the duo are looking for the right space for their own restaurant, they have plans for guest chef stints at The Plum and a speakeasy event at BurkleHagen Studio this month. “We are going to invest in Cleveland and make the culinary scene as amazing as we know it could be,” says Alex. “Stay tuned.”Interesting Fact
$200 and 3 suitcases: What Alex and Natasha’s family possessed when they emigrated from the Ukraine to the U.S. in 1991.