From banking to baking: How Austrian cuisine came to Islington
Burn-out often leads to career change. So it was when Hubert Zanier tired of being an investment banker and instead dedicated his working life to schnitzels, strudels and other Austrian classics.
He now runs Islington’s Austrian restaurant and patisserie Kipferl (German for croissant).
“Kipferl started life as a small delicatessen near Smithfield. It quickly gained a reputation for authentic, high-quality cakes, hearty sausages, Viennese coffee and other Austrian staples,” says Zanier, who hails from Kufstein in Austria’s Tyrol. In his past life he worked for banks including Citibank, JP Morgan and BNP Paribas.
“Like many bankers I eventually got tired of the numbers business. I moved into hospitality in 2016, taking over a small south-east Asian grab-and-go chain in the City.
“When I had the chance to take over Kipferl in 2019, my dream to have an Austrian restaurant in London finally came true. I developed Kipferl from a local café to a full-blown restaurant, adding an e-commerce business during lockdown.”
Today almost everything is available for delivery across the UK. Only the topfentorte (Austrian cheesecake) and Esterhazy (buttercream spiced with cognac or vanilla, sandwiched between layers of walnut dough) are too fragile to ship, but can be delivered via refrigerated courier to any postcode inside the M25.
“We currently have a team of three pastry chefs, all of them Italian. It’s virtually impossible to find Austrian chefs in London, but they follow our Austrian recipes and are really good technically.
“Some recipes are from my family, others are from our Austrian executive chef, who cooks at the Austrian Embassy.”
Kipferl also offers a wide range of quality wine including classic Austrian Sekt, a sparkling wine now considered “Qualitätsschaumwein” – quality foam wine – best served in a tulip-shaped glass with a long, narrow bowl to prevent the bubbles escaping too quickly.
One final recommendation is Linzer torte, one of the oldest cakes in the world. It’s a rich pastry filled with jam and best served with lots of whipped cream. Now available in North London.