These last couple of months gave us an opportunity to really look and listen to the people around us: shopkeepers, entrepreneurs; our locals. Here at PALAVER we value human connections and interactions. We love getting to know people and seeing them for who they really are.
We chat with our favourite locals in Amsterdam. We ask them how they are during this time and talk about their passions, dreams, why they started their company and what they hope will change after this strange time.
On a sunny Tuesday morning we visit Florence, of Levain & Le vin. A small bakery and wine shop on the Jan Pieter Heijestraat in Amsterdam West.
Florence started Levain & Le vin August last year, combining her love and passion for natural wines and sourdough breads. With roots in Montpellier, in Southern France, Florence has a background in working for amazing restaurants like Choux and Café Modern in Amsterdam, as well as internships in London and Copenhagen.
We speak to her while she’s finishing up her preparations for the day and is putting the last cinnamon buns in the oven. We love visiting Levain & Le vin and enjoying a coffee and Focaccia burrata while sitting by the window (of course not right now unfortunately). But still, it’s a treat to visit every time we go. The feel of the shop, the smell of fresh bread. We can sense the love and care that goes into this cozy space. It is truly inspiring to us.
Goodmorning Florence, how are you doing?
We are actually doing really well. In the beginning of quarantine, we used a pick-up system for premade bags of bread and wine. Our bakers worked in shifts. All of the bread is made 24 hours before baking, as sourdough needs this time to rise. The bags sold really well, over Easter we sold-out within a minute haha! We reopened a month ago and are back to selling bread, focaccia, wine, cakes and it’s been good. We enjoy our loyal customers coming by. It’s funny because of the 1,5 metres we have a line outside, which is great marketing haha. People who don’t know us see people lining up outside the shop and think: “wow that bread must be amazing", and they will come and buy some bread, the support is great.
Have you always dreamt of having a shop / bakery or your own business?
Yes, I definitely always dreamt of having something for myself. When I was a kid I used to want to own a hotel, I had an entire plan ready with room rates and all. I guess I always knew I would not have a corporate job. It’s been a very natural process, growing into starting Levain & Le vin. After working for several restaurants and wine importers for quite some time I decided to do it and create my own space. I found this location, here on the Jan Pieter Heijestraat which used to be a toystore and it’s been a dream.
Normally you can sit inside and enjoy a coffee, but not at the moment, with the measures in place. We sell fresh breads and natural wines and will host a workshop here and there. This concept is a bit strange to some Spanish or French visitors, as they don’t understand they can’t drink the wine in the shop haha.
Biggest passion in life?
FOOD! Florence’s husband who’s busy in the backroom comments: “And me!”. Haha. “So yes, my husband of course .. and food”. Everything in our lives center around good food. Holidays, travels, work, everything we do, with friends or alone, is centered around eating. We love going out to beautiful restaurants, especially when travelling. Or trying all the local foods when travelling to new countries. Besides that of course wine as well, we only drink good wines, being surrounded by so many good bottles is dangerous.
What do you hope or think to be the silver lining of this strange time?
I hope people will be more conscious in life, I think this is something that’s already happening now. People think more about where they shop, how they consume. Lots of people try to support local entrepreneurs and choosing where they shop more consciously. I hope this trend will continue after this strange time has ended.
Levain and Le vin
Jan Pieter Heijestraat 168, Amsterdam
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