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At Rinkoff’s Bakery

March 2, 2022
by the gentle author

Thank you to everyone who has so far contributed to my crowdfund to launch a COMMUNITY TOURISM PROJECT in Spitalfields as a BETTER ALTERNATIVE to the serial killer tours that monetise misogyny. We have raised three-quarters of our target now and we have twelve days left, so please spread the word.




Ray Rinkoff braids his Challah

At the outbreak of war, it is salutary to recognise the close connections between the East End and Ukraine. Many thousands of the refugees who fled here, escaping pogroms against Jewish people in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, came from this region. Here is just one of those stories.

“Hold on a few minutes, I’ve got something in the oven!” exclaimed Ray Rinkoff, when Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I arrived at his family-run bakery in Jubilee St, Whitechapel, founded by Hyman Rinkoff in 1911. “I always wanted to be a Baker,” Ray continued, a moment later. “My grandfather was a Master Baker who came over from the Ukraine and opened up in Old Montague St, but – although my father couldn’t boil an egg – the talent was passed on to me.”

In this corner of London, Rinkoff’s Bakery is a major cultural landmark yet they wear their legendary status lightly. In 1906, Master Baker Hyman arrived fleeing the pogroms in Kyiv and opened his shop five years later in Spitalfields opposite Black Lion Yard, lined with jewellers and known then as the Hatton Garden of the East End. All the family, uncles, cousins and aunts lived up above the bakery and worked in the business which flourished there until 1971 – when a compulsory purchase order presaged the demolition of the building, along with the rest of Old Montague St.

Since he was ten years old, Ray came in to work in the bakery during his school holidays and discovered a natural affinity with baking. “By the time I was twelve, my grandparents would pick me up in their car and bring me in and I got paid £2 a day,” Ray recalled fondly, “I used to help my grandfather Hyman with the baking, serve in the shop and make dough.” At fifteen years old in 1968, Ray wanted to go to Switzerland to train as a patissier but he settled for working at the Floris Bakery in Soho. “But then my dad said, ‘We’ve got problems at the bakery,’ so I came in to the family business and stayed,” Ray admitted to me, “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

“I used to get up at two in the morning and be at work by three, to light the old ovens and warm them for two hours before we could start baking,” he confessed with a shrug, “and then I’d get home at nine at night, for ten years, seven days a week.” These days Ray takes it easy on himself by working a mere twelve hour day, five days a week.

In recent decades Rinkoff’s has operated from Jubilee St with a small shop and a large busy bakery behind, where the next generation have joined the family business. In 1982, Lloyd Rinkoff was only thirteen when his father told him he could either take Hebrew classes or work at the bakery on Sundays, so he chose the latter and stayed. More recently, in 2007, Jennifer Rinkoff joined and has expanded the bakery range to include Linzer biscuits and muffins.

“When you’ve worked hard all your life, you’re very proud of what you’ve got,” Ray assured me in haste, and then he had to run again because he had something in the oven.

Hyman Rinkoff, the founder

Max Rinkoff

The former shop in Jubilee St

The original shop in Old Montague St

Max in Old Montague St

Sylvie & Max Rinkoff

Max at the new bakery in Jubilee St

Rinkoff family group in Jubilee St with Ray (far right)

Lloyd, Jennifer & Ray Rinkoff


Timothy, Head Pastry Chef – “I’ve been here thirty years”




Jennifer & Ray Rinkoff

New photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

You may also like to read about

Night at the Brick Lane Beigel Bakery

Eleanor Crow’s East End Bakers

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Andy Strowman permalink
    March 2, 2022

    Much loved for being one of the vestiges.

  2. March 2, 2022

    What a fantastically multicultural workforce. Spirit of the East End.

  3. Howard Davies permalink
    March 2, 2022

    I will run out of superlatives one day – another inspirational segment of East End life – what lovely people, wonderful history, great present – have to get myself over there again for cholla, and pastries. Thanks to you Gentle Author for bringing us these pieces which are an excellent antidote to these troubling times.

  4. Cherub permalink
    March 2, 2022

    I took a look at the website – everything looks really delicious and I loved the humorous use of puns in the copy ☺️ It really cheered me up in the face of the terrible news reports we are all living with at the moment.

  5. March 2, 2022

    If I were in London, I would only shop at Rinkoff’s Bakery in solidarity!

    Love & Peace

  6. Karen Rennie permalink
    March 2, 2022

    how wonderful to see Rinkoff’s tradition continues and am feeling quite hungry now as a see the delicious challah plait

  7. Saba permalink
    March 2, 2022

    Thank you, GA, for including street names. Between a paper map, which is not very good, and Google Maps, I am learning my way around the neighborhoods.
    I am home with a broken wrist, so I have lots of time now.
    Thank you to the Rinkoffs for telling an important story.

  8. Derek Bailey permalink
    March 2, 2022

    Does anyone remember Greenspan’s Bakery that was located at the south end of Umberston Street? Great Challah !!!

  9. Yeshurun Judah permalink
    March 10, 2022

    First saw your jubilee shop 92 tasty ? , and used to shop with Gold brothers for Shabbat Chicken ? sorely missed. Much success to you.

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