Pastry Chef is the Krem de la Creme

Krem Bakery & Cafe

Virginia Beach pastry chef, who made 6,000 macaroons and raised more than $25,000 to support her home country of Ukraine, brings delicious modern European desserts to Coastal Virginia 

Around 7 a.m. each day, Iryna Kremenchugskiy arrives at Krem Bakery & Cafe to prepare for opening. She puts the finishing touches on the mousse pastries that have been defrosting since the previous night and starts baking the eclairs and tarts that will fill the cafe’s display case.

A few years ago, Kremenchugskiy baked her first cake for her husband Maksim’s birthday. After that, she began getting requests from friends and neighbors for birthday and special occasion cakes. 

Then the pandemic came, the world shut down, and Kremenchugskiy, like many of us, found herself looking to the internet for a productive use of her time. She began taking online classes from European pastry chefs, including Christophe Adam, Cedric Grolet, Saba Janjgava, Marusya Manko and Julia Belichenko.

“I could log in at any time, which was great for me because I’d often do it after I put the kids to bed,” Kremenchugskiy says. “I was able to go at my own pace and really found a passion for it.”

Kremenchugskiy mastered a variety of European-style modern pastries during those early months of the pandemic. She especially loved baking eclairs, which she learned from Christophe Adam, a popular French pastry chef. They are still her favorite dessert to make because of the precision required to get them just right.

Iryna Kremenchugskiy and husband Maksim. Photo by David Uhrin

Kremenchugskiy delights in details—from the actual ingredients that create the decadent flavors, to the intricate features that make her desserts equally pleasing to the eye as they are the palate. Everything she makes is from scratch, using only natural, high-quality ingredients like Belgian chocolate, fresh fruit purees and real vanilla beans. Even the tiny leaf detail on her popular orange mousse pastry is a real mint leaf.

The Kremenchugskiys quickly realized there were no bakeries in the Coastal Virginia area specializing in these unique types of desserts, and they set out to fulfill Iryna’s dream of opening her own bakery.

It didn’t take them long to find the location on Virginia Beach Boulevard, just a few minutes away from home. But delays from the pandemic and securing the building permit meant nearly two years of waiting to open. In early 2022, the Kremenchugskiys were still waiting on their building permit when the unthinkable happened: Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the country where both of them had grown up. 

“I was in shock,” Kremenchugskiy remembers. “I was reading the news 24/7. Maksim was worried about me spending all my time that way and encouraged me to do something instead. So I started making macaroons, and I posted them in our neighborhood Facebook group to fundraise for Ukraine.”

DELIGHTFUL DETAILS From classic eclairs and tarts to orange mousse and traditional Ukrainian honey cake, Kremenchugskiy has a passion for precision. (Photos by David Uhrin)

She expected to raise a few hundred dollars. The immediate response from neighbors and friends was overwhelming. Kremenchugskiy was baking around the clock, barely sleeping. Her mother quickly stepped in to help as the orders continued to flood in. In all, they sold around 6,000 macaroons and raised more than $25,000 to support Ukraine.

They ordered tactical boots and clothing for the Ukrainian army and sent money to a variety of organizations providing aid on the ground.

A little over a year later, Krem Bakery & Cafe opened its doors to the public on June 28, 2023. The cafe has a Mid-Century Modern feel, with green velvet furniture and gold accents. The main attraction is the display case filled with an exquisite variety of European pastries and desserts.

Some of the most popular options are the traditional Ukrainian honey cake, the pear mousse pastry and the lemon tart. Customers can also enjoy breakfast items, such as the well-loved Syrniki dish (Ukrainian fried pancake made with farmer’s cheese), lunch items, coffee and tea.

“We have a lot of returning customers—some who come every week,” Kremenchugskiy says. “I love when people really like the desserts and I know we did it right.”

Learn more at krembakeryandcafe.com

CS
Chelsea Sherman
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