After life in Caracas, Paris, Brussels and San Francisco; Irena moved to Baltimore in 1998, excited to experience life in a smaller but very strongly historic American city.

She started her career in the culinary world in 2002 and soon after opened Café Azafrán at the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins. Alkimia, her second café, opened in the Humanities building on the same Homewood campus. Both have been pioneers in introducing sustainability and zero waste in the food environments at Hopkins, but above all, they have provided day after day delicious food for the very brilliant community that surrounds them.

Since 2012, Irena has been dreaming of sharing her childhood cultural background with the city of Baltimore, and to present it beyond the borders of Hopkins. Alma Cocina Latina is her project with this in mind.