French flair in Kimmage as Arty Baker uncorks its latest venture

The married couple behind the Dublin bakery outlets are preparing to open a wine and tapas bar, Le Petit Renard

A chance encounter on a night out in London was the beginning of a butter-basted love story that resulted in the opening of Arty Baker bakeries in Dublin and, more recently, Le Petit Renard wine bar in Kimmage, Dublin 12.

The Gallic flair of talented baker Romain Tessier combined with the Canadian charisma and business know-how of his wife, Suzanne Hodgkinson, are taking the Dublin bakery scene by storm and they have just opened another business, a French wine bar.

Anyone who has ever worked in hospitality knows that Monday nights out are vital. Another busy weekend is done and dusted and, while the rest of us may be suffering from Monday night malaise, chefs, kitchen porters, front of house and management are donning their glad rags. It was on one of these Monday nights that Tessier, who was head baker at London’s Hotel Cafe Royal at the time, met Suzanne Hodgkinson in a tequila bar in London. Stints in London and Kuwait for the couple preceded a move to Ireland in 2020 and the opening of a Sandycove bakery pop-up, and then the first Arty Baker store in Dalkey, followed swiftly by branches in Kimmage, Sandymount and Grand Canal Station.

Tessier, from the city of Tours in the Loire Valley, has been baking since he was a teenager. He began his career at a young age with an apprenticeship in a traditional French bakery, learning the art of baking and Viennoiserie. After completing his training, he hit the ground running and embarked on a career that has been varied and rewarding, including being head baker at the five-star Savoy hotel, followed by five years at the Hotel Café Royal, both in London.


He was also a contestant on Channel 4′s Bake Off: The Professionals in 2018, a spin-off from The Great British Bake-off. The coveted title was not to be his, but Tessier got though to the semi-finals, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Then came a career move to Kuwait, building bakery concepts in another hotel. But when the pandemic struck, a return to Europe was called for. The couple agreed to follow the first job offer that materialised, so when Hodgkinson was offered a role in digital health in Dublin, they answered the call and relocated here in late 2020.

After that, things moved fast, with Tessier owning his own bakery for the first time with the launch of a pop-up in Sandycove, which paved the way for the Arty Baker. Hodgkinson joined the business full time and the couple have opened four successful branches, supplying Dublin locals with an array of buttery French bakes; breads, including their honey butter brioche toast, the Bostock; ham and cheese croissants; and jalapeño poppers.

Not content with running the four branches of Arty Baker, the resourceful pair are set to open a new wine bar adjacent the Kimmage branch this month. Le Petit Renard is a small French wine and tapas bar serving French-inspired small plates and a selection of wines by the bottle or glass. The name translates as The Little Fox, and was inspired by a chance encounter the couple had one night while they were walking home from town, when a young fox appeared out of nowhere.

With core values that incorporate precision, taste and modernity, Tessier’s style effortlessly blends the age-old culture of a traditional French bakery with a modern aesthetic while retaining and respecting craft and tradition. With six French bakers on the team and fresh bread baked and delivered to each branch twice each day, incorporating these qualities into Le Petit Renard is likely to result in a small, but perfectly formed boutique wine bar. After all, the winning combination of French cheese with good bread and wine is the epitome of a match made in heaven, if ever there was one.