Bakeries which also have a specialism in wine are a small but growing breed. The latest is Irene in Camberwell, south London, which opened last month.
Owner Andrey Gusak admits the wine element of the scheme came a bit later as initially the project consisted of just the bakery, headed up by his wife Maria. “We decided to join forces,” he says, “and now it is a family business with Maria’s parents helping out with investment and her sister doing the graphic design.”
Gusak’s love of old-world wine was honed during a year spent in Paris and fine tuned during a recent stint at Albertine in Shepherds Bush, from where he is buying some of his range. Sip Champagne is another supplier.
“I am focusing on wines from France, Italy and Spain,” he says, “mostly organic wines from small producers and wines that are a true reflection of their terroir. I don’t want to limit myself, but for now these are what I know best.”
The name Irene honours Maria’s mother and “represents her spirit of hospitality, but it also reflects our home countries,” explains Gusak.
“I am from Russia and Maria is from Kazakhstan where the hospitality culture is very strong. We consider ourselves to be international and we take our inspiration from many places. We are borrowing the best things from every culture that we love.”
The new business has been well received by Camberwell locals, who, reports Gusak, are keen for couple to begin their evening service when they will be able to buy wine by the glass and enjoy some cold cuts.
“Camberwell is quite residential, and it feels very relaxed with a nice local feel,” he adds. “So far the shop has been overwhelmingly successful.”