Macrina’s Aloha Café Opens on Capitol Hill

On the corner of 19th and Aloha on Capitol Hill, Macrina Bakery’s fifth and newest café opened at 7 a.m. on Thursday, September 6. Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, worked the counter with new crew members and employees pulled from other locations.

A Warm Welcome

It is a very bright and cheery space in the open, white-tiled kitchen. The sun filters through from the skylights above and mixes with the natural light coming from the wall of windows on the north side of the café.  Whether they knew one another or not, people filled the many communal tables, spending time together and taking in the new location.

“We had a line out the door for two hours that morning,” said Scott France, Macrina’s president. “So many people from the neighborhood have come up to tell me how eagerly they’ve been waiting for us to open. It feels great to be welcomed so warmly.”

Many who had been watching the extensive remodel these past couple of months commented on their favorite design features: the wall of rough wood that was uncovered in the demolition phase, so stunning that we had to clean it up and keep it; the long, white marble display counters filled with loaves of bread, cakes, pastries, pies and savory items; the exposed wood joists that form the ceiling. One welcoming neighbor even brought in a large vase cascading with flowers from her garden.

Macrina Bakery Day

Macrina received a welcomed surprise when Mayor Jenny Durkan proclaimed September 6, 2018, Macrina Bakery Day in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary and our impact on the city. The full proclamation is worth reading as it honors so many of Macrina’s deeply held values:

Old Meets New

The new café is located in the same space once occupied by the Surrogate Hostess, a community bakery, and many customers mentioned it. Those who spoke of it remember it fondly as the bakery that once served as a gathering spot in the neighborhood. Macrina hopes to fill that role and to enrich the community with Leslie’s passion for artisanal baking.

“I couldn’t be happier with how the space turned out,” Leslie said. “And seeing so many smiling faces coming in for a pastry or lunch was fabulous. Opening our fifth café has been a wonderful capstone to our 25th-anniversary celebrations.”

Ariel Singh, General Manager, Aloha Café 

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina. 

Ariel Singh’s experience and talent make her the perfect person to open our new café on Capitol Hill at 746 19th Ave E (on the corner of Aloha and 19th). She’s as wonderful a person as she is talented with customers and crew alike. Managing a café is a big job requiring superb customer service skills, extensive food knowledge, people management, logistics, administrative duties, and more. Ariel does it all with grace, charm and efficiency.

Leslie

Life at Macrina

Ariel started working at Macrina’s Belltown Café in 2012, in the midst of a remodel. She spent much of her first week working side by side with Leslie Mackie, cleaning and scrubbing, before moving into other roles in the cafés.

“Macrina has grown, but Leslie is still present in everything we do,” Ariel said. “The breads, the pastries, and the values are the same. In some ways, I’d say Macrina has just continued to grow into itself.”

After Belltown, Ariel moved to the McGraw Café where she worked as Assistant Manager. She was promoted to General Manager of our Sodo Café in 2016. This was when Macrina’s wholesale production still worked in the space behind the café. About a year later, having outgrown that space, wholesale moved to our bakery in Kent, though you can still watch the pastry team working behind the windows at the Sodo café.

“Before wholesale moved, it was so fun to walk back there and see and experience everything being made from scratch, the potatoes boiling for the potato bread, all the dough being kneaded, and teams of bakers hand-forming and scoring every loaf. I miss it and encourage my crew to get out to Kent to see all the work that goes into our products.”

There has been one advantage since Wholesale moved out of Sodo. “Without the huge rack ovens running 24 hours a day, the café stays cooler.” Plus, speaking of cool, Gelatiamo, Seattle’s extraordinary gelato maker, now occupies part of the space. Owner Maria Coassin quickly hit it off with Ariel, so much so that she has been helping Ariel plan her upcoming honeymoon!

Opening a New Café

Ariel worked down in Sodo until this past August. When offered the opportunity to open Macrina’s newest café, there was no hesitation.  “I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” she says.

The location of the café was once home to the Surrogate Hostess. People are still talking about the Surrogate Hostess today, which is a testimony of the impact the bakery made on the tight-knit community. This would be a tough act for anyone to follow, but Ariel is a perfect fit. She is good with her crew, but she truly makes a point to create connections with her customers. “I’ve loved each of the cafés for different reasons,” Ariel says. “Each has a nostalgic feeling for me that I relate to different parts of my life. The best compliment I can get is when a customer from another café comes in and remembers me and say they miss me.” Now she’s ready to make new memories at Aloha and excited to get to know new customers in a new neighborhood.

“Ariel is incredibly hard working,” says Crystal Kitchin, the General Manager overseeing all of the cafés. “She strives for perfection. Working in food service, you can only control so much yourself. The rest comes from training your crew well. Ariel has risen to the occasion and become a great leader.”

But Ariel is just as appreciative of Crystal. “I’m lucky to work for a boss who I really like,” Ariel says. “Crystal is a guiding light. If I’m having a tough time dealing with something, she has an answer. Even to the most complicated interpersonal issues that come up with a big staff. I’ve also learned so much from working with Leslie. She’s the epitome of Macrina and what it embodies, in all the best ways.”

The Married Life

Ariel was married to her husband Narayan Singh about a year ago, almost to the day, on Labor Day 2017. The Corson Building, a gem tucked under the freeway in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, provided the perfect setting for a food-crazy couple. If a flaw could be found, it was only that the day was a little warm for Ariel, about 85 degrees. “I was a little hot in my dress,” Ariel says, “but Narayan was happy. The wedding was perfect.” 

They met in Seattle after both moving from warmer places, Ariel from L.A., Narayan from Las Vegas. Taylor Murphy, a mutual friend, introduced them. She used to work with Ariel. Because of their friendship, and Taylor being the point of intersection, Ariel and Narayan asked her to officiate their wedding. “At work, Taylor was frequently a little late, and I’m a stickler for punctuality. But she was definitely on time for the wedding,” Ariel laughs.

Narayan is a Clinical Psychology Doctoral Student at Seattle Pacific University. This keeps him very busy, which was part of the reason why they delayed their honeymoon until this summer. 

Celebrating 25 Years: The 7 days of Macrina

Celebrating 25 Years: The 7 Days of Macrina

What began as a neighborhood bakery has grown tremendously over the last 25 years. This is the week leading up to our 25th anniversary on August 27th and we want to celebrate each day with a product give away! These products represent some of the first products ever sold at Macrina, and they have stayed around and become customer favorites. Stop by our cafés and grab your free gift, while supplies last!

The Schedule:

August 21 – Mini Macrina Casera

This was Macrina’s first bread. The Casera loaf was inspired by a bread from Poilâne, the famous Paris bakery. In 1994, our Macrina Casera placed second in a Sunset Magazine sourdough competition. This 10 oz. size is great for dinner for two or hollowed out and used as a bowl for soup or dip.

Aug. 22: Lemon Bars

Our Lemon Bars are a variation of our signature Lemon Tart, a favorite we’ve been making at the café since day one. The lemon custard is thickened with semolina. It’s rich in flavor and the tartness of fresh lemon juice nicely balances the sweetness of sugar.

Aug 23: Half Demi Sandwich

When we opened we had one alternating panini sandwich daily. We used a combination of fresh roasted vegetables, local cheese and select roasted meats. But one simple sandwich required a permanent place on our menu: the Demi Sandwich. It features Giuseppe panini bread with Dijon mustard, sliced ham, fontina cheese and organic greens.

Aug. 24: Rick’s Cookies

This cookie is named after Rick Katz, an acclaimed pastry chef in Boston. Leslie worked with Rick and fell in love with this cookie. He granted her permission to use his recipe when she opened Macrina. The diced apricots, semisweet chocolate and fresh ground espresso play off each other and make for an extraordinary taste combination. A longtime customer favorite.

Aug. 25: Rustic Potato Loaf

This bread was inspired by a recipe from the late Carol Field, in her wonderful cookbook The Italian Baker. Its soft crust and velvety texture make it one of our most popular loaves.

Aug. 26: Mini Budapest Coffee Cake

Macrina’s take on the classic sour cream coffee cake— made with low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. We also add a swirl of cinnamon sugar, raisins, toasted walnuts and cocoa powder.

Aug. 27: Skagit Sourdough Loaf in Macrina’s Anniversary Tote &
25% off all items in the cafés.

Leslie is as creative in the kitchen as ever, and this new loaf proves it. Months in the making, the Skagit Sourdough celebrates the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Organic and made with all local ingredients. The day-long ferment, with a light dose of our Sour White starter, gives the loaf a light sour flavor that is balanced out by the sweetness of the natural grain and the nuttiness of the bran. The result is one of our most grain-forward and flavorful loaves.
Thank you for helping make our 25th anniversary the best that it can be! We can’t believe so much time has gone by so fast. Looking forward to the next 25 years together!

25th Anniversary Loaf: The Gathering Process

Macrina turns 25 on August 27th, and I can hardly believe it. I never imagined baking as many loaves as we do now, not to mention the pastries, cakes, and so much more. Our values have always been tied to supporting the community, so creating products made with local ingredients has always been a priority. We know where we get our food matters, so for years and years, the origin of our vegetables and meats has been a focus. In bread, however, we weren’t asking the important question: who grew the wheat? We’ve been working hard to close this gap and making the effort to learn about the farmers who grow the wheat we use. In turn, they can tell us which wheat varieties they’re growing. This makes all the difference when making artisanal, hand-formed bread. To celebrate our milestone, I’ve been creating a Macrina Anniversary Loaf, made only with grains grown and milled locally.

Local Grains

Since Macrina started in 1993, our local grain ecosystem has also come leaps and bounds. Washington is one of the largest producers of wheat in the country, and the current number of grain varietals grown in Washington State is staggering. This abundance has paved the way for specialized local mills to spring up, meeting the growing demand for freshly-milled, whole-grain flours.

At the heart of this change, just north of Seattle in the Skagit Valley, is the Bread Lab. Chief wheat breeder, Dr. Stephen Jones, runs the lab, which is an extension of Washington State University. Jones approaches the subject of locally grown wheat from every angle: with a farmer’s knowledge of the fields, a scientist’s discipline and a chef’s passion for food.

Over seven years ago, the Bread Lab invited me to be on their advisory board. Back then I had no idea how impactful it would be. For many of us on the front lines of baking, Jones has been a leading advocate for the benefits of local wheat.  It has been remarkable having a front row seat to observe what they do.


Bread Lab’s Grain Gathering

Every year, the Bread Lab hosts an annual conference called Grain Gathering. Professional bakers, bread enthusiasts, brewers, farmers, and chefs from around the country gather in the Skagit Valley to talk all things bread. A few years back, Dr. Jones had a group of six of us taste a bunch of loaves mixed up by resident baker, John Bethony. Until then, I hadn’t tried a bread made entirely from whole grain milled wheat. Whole grain milled flour is usually blended with conventional flour to enhance baking, otherwise the bread tends to bake inconsistently. That wasn’t the case for the Bread Lab, where they had come up with wonderfully flavorful and beautiful loaves. It was an introduction into a whole new world.

We contrasted each loaf for taste, texture and appearance. The natural flavor of the grain blew me away. The range of flavors matched the range of wheats and each distinctive loaf tasted of the type and terroir of the wheat used. From that point forward I’ve incorporated more native wheats and whole grain flours into Macrina’s breads. It was that tasting that lit the fire for the soon to come anniversary loaf.

Anniversary Loaf: Leslie’s Gathering Process

I always have several bags of different flours open in the kitchen. They have names like T-85, Yecora Rojo, Expresso Hard Red Spring Wheat, and Skagit Magic. This is how my gathering process works. My notebooks are full of new techniques I’ve been learning. I also have bags of various locally-produced malts, oats and barley.

Baking is a mix of science, rigorous precision, intuition and feel. I’ve experimented with many variables: adding diastolic malt powder (produced locally, of course), oats and emmer, blending native wheats in varying ratios, baking earlier with longer ferments. Of course I’m using the Macrina Casera starter, the starter I created 25 years ago from champagne grapes planted in my backyard. Many of the loaves I’ve tested have had a wonderful crumb and great flavor, but they’re flatter and denser than I want. My goal is to make a voluptuous whole grain bread, one with a stunning presence as well as a stunning flavor profile.
For me, so much of baking is tactile, so it takes time. I need to feel the dough in my hands when I mix it for the first time, or after a long rise. I’m inching closer and closer, and will keep working until it is just right.

Stay tuned…

Quy Nguyen, Savory Department

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina. 

A year after I opened the bakery, I took over an adjoining space and opened the Belltown café. Customers could sit down for a slice of quiche, weekend brunch or a sandwich made with Macrina’s fresh bread. Back then, the savory items we made didn’t require a whole department. Brunch was an all-hands-on-deck affair, but as Macrina has grown and our lunch and brunch crowds have expanded, we had to do something to keep up with demand. Because of this, we now have a Savory Department. They prepare all the sandwiches, quiche, soups, spreads, salad dressings, and meze for our cafés. Quy is one of the stars, a talented cook who is efficient and graceful, two desirable qualities in a bustling kitchen. 

Leslie

Quy Nguyen, Savory Chef

On weekends, our Sodo Café bustles with brunch customers. In front of the stove, Quy Nguyen keeps her focus on the pans of eggs, sizzling applewood smoked bacon, herb-roasted potatoes, and heaping plates of French toast. Her hands quickly dart between the knife and pan. New orders come in and servers deliver hot dishes to tables. The kitchen heats up, but Quy stays cool. She churns out one pan of perfectly-cooked over-easy eggs after another and beautifully garnishes the plates. 

The rest of her workweek is just as important, but less intense. 

As a critical member of our Savory team, Quy preps and makes savory items for all of the cafés at our Kent bakery. After ten years, she knows all of the recipes and techniques. She works with the same precision and focus she employs on the brunch line, but she has time to share stories and chat with the other staff. “I like to joke around with them,” she says, through a translator. “They are like a second family.”

Still, nothing tops those busy mornings at the Sodo Café. “The favorite part of my job is working brunch. I find it very rewarding,” she says.

More about Quy

Quy moved to Seattle from Dalat, Vietnam, in 2003 with her husband and teenage daughter. The climate in Seattle is very similar to that of Dalat, whose temperate climate stands in contrast to Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. The region’s valleys are cloaked in mist much of the year, leading to its name “City of Eternal Spring.” For the first five years living here, she stayed at home while her daughter went to school. When it came time for her daughter to graduate from high school, she thought about working again. A friend recommended Macrina, so she interviewed and was hired and she’s been an essential part of the team ever since.

Quy does enjoy cooking at home. She primarily cooks Vietnamese food for her family, but has developed quite a taste for the diversity of cuisines in America, especially those of the French and Italian influence. Macrina’s Mac & Cheese is her current favorite dish to eat. 

She returns to Vietnam every two to three years to visit her mother, along with her sister and brother. She likes sharing with them recipes that she’s learned, and has begun teaching them how to make soups and salad dressings similar to Macrina’s. 

Marilyn Mercer manages the Savory Department. She says, “Quy amazes me. She’s willing to do any task needed to support our success. She’s quick and efficient, sometimes under hectic and stressful situations during brunch. Her food is always on point. Everyone at Savory and the Sodo Café appreciates her skillful teamwork. I truly enjoy working with her.”

Alfredo Machorro, Steward

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina. 

To those who deliver our supplies, Alfredo Machorro is the face of Macrina. His kindness is genuine. But he’s no pushover. If something isn’t right about an order, he straightens out the invoice or refuses product that doesn’t meet our high standards. With his rare combination of rigor and sweetness, Alfredo has earned the respect of our suppliers and admiration from all of us at the bakery.

Leslie

Alfredo Machorro, Steward Lead

Most of our customers never see Alfredo Machorro, but without him we’d have a hard time making a single product. Alfredo is our Steward Lead and Receiver. He greets each of our suppliers at the loading docks, checks in their deliveries and carefully ensures the quality and contents of each order. 

Alfredo takes great pride in his work and the knowledge that, indirectly at least, he has a hand in everything at the bakery. He ensures that the fruits and vegetables that arrive are of the highest quality and that the meats and cheeses have been refrigerated properly. He also manages an extensive inventory of various flours, sugars, butter, and all the different items we use for bagging and packaging our baked goods. 

“Each day is a little different, but each day is very busy,” Alfredo says. “I’ve been here seven years now, and with each new year I’ve taken on new responsibilities. I like everything about my job.”

Blake Gehringer, Alfredo’s supervisor, says, “Alfredo works hard to make sure that every single product Macrina orders is correct, gets dated and rotated appropriately one hundred percent of the time. I really appreciate how thorough and organized he is. I also guarantee that he is the nicest receiver in the Pacific Northwest, even when he needs to turn away product.”

This quality of kindness and thoroughness, both in his work and his relations with co-workers, has endeared Alfredo to everyone at the bakery. Not to mention how many rely on his knowledge of exactly where anything is. 

During the week, Alfredo arrives at 6 a.m. and works until 2 p.m. Incoming deliveries, rotating stock, taking inventory, and ordering new supplies take up most of his time. “Moving to the bigger space in Kent has made my life much easier,” he says. “The Sodo space had gotten too small for us. Now I can manage the inventory much better.”

Family, Food and Travel

Alfredo moved to Seattle almost 20 years ago from the historic city of Puebla, located in Central Mexico. Puebla has a climate quite similar to Seattle, so the rain and cool nights weren’t a hard transition. Eager to start his next chapter in America, he worked a variety of jobs, building a robust skill set. Before Macrina, he worked as a forklift driver, which is a tool he frequently uses at Macrina. 

Three of Alfredo’s sisters followed him to Seattle, settling near Burien, where Alfredo lives. They get together on Sundays, “After church on Sunday I visit my sisters,” Alfredo says. “I live alone, so it’s nice to play with their kids and enjoy time with family.” On special occasions, they make make Alfredo’s favorite dish, Mole Poblanos.

Alfredo also enjoys visiting his favorite restaurant, Azteca. The original location for the regional chain is near his home in Burien. It started out as a small mom and pop place in 1974. “The food is great,” Alfredo says.

When he’s not spending time with family in Burien, downtown Seattle has always been one of his favorite places to explore, though he does like to make it out of the city. “When I have a little vacation time, I like to visit the Oregon Coast, or sometimes I go to Wenatchee. I like all the apple orchards.”

Mike Johnson, Delivery Assistant Manager

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina. 

Mike Johnson is a devoted and passionate member of the delivery team. He arrives at work while most of the city is asleep, gets the orders together, helps pack the delivery vans, and often drives one himself. Mike and his team are on the streets well before daybreak so that Macrina’s bread and pastries are at the many groceries, cafés and restaurants when you arrive.

Leslie

Mike Johnson loves to drive. So much so that he spends as much of his free time as he can watching the races at Skagit Speedway. “Dirt racing is my passion,” Mike says. “I just got a car that can race in the tuner class, the slowest type of cars. I hope to start racing soon.”

Fittingly, when he joined Macrina in 2013, it was as a delivery driver. If Mike wasn’t so observant of company policy, we might worry about him screeching around corners. “Mike is a man of rules and likes to run a tight ship, he works by the book enforcing company policies,” says Sergio Castaneda, the Delivery General Manager. “He is very thorough and organized, which helps ensure that orders aren’t missing items.”

From the beginning it was clear that Mike was ambitious, had a positive attitude and wanted more responsibility. Impressed with his work, Sergio promoted him to lead driver and then soon after to assistant manager. 

“At my previous job, I dealt with a lot of angry customers,” Mike says. “Here, our customers love our bread and pastries, so I’m mostly dealing with happy people.” 

Except for the one time he nearly got clobbered with a frying pan. 

On an early morning delivery, he had to use the bathroom. “I went toward the back looking for it, thinking I was alone,” Mike says. “What I didn’t realize was that a girl had just started her shift. She was half asleep, and for some reason she was carrying a frying pan. As I come around the corner, the frying pan goes up in the air. I screamed ‘Macrina.’ It was all I could think to say. Fortunately, she lowered the frying pan. After we recovered our wits, we laughed. Most deliveries aren’t so exciting.”

Mike talks about his time at Macrina, “I’ve been handed a lot of responsibility as the company grows, but I have lots of support. Sergio, my supervisor, is a great teacher and listener. I’ve developed more internal strength from this job than any other because the owners and management have been so supportive of me.”

Seeing Mike’s success at Macrina, his sister Kelly followed and now works with him in the delivery department as a packer. Raised nearby with his two sisters, Mike has stayed close to his family. “My dad is my number one mentor,” he says. His parents host the occasional weekend family gathering at their house in Kent. 

Mike and his sister Stephanie Johnson at a Mariners game

Treating people in his department like family is part of Mike’s success as a leader. He often arrives at 1 a.m. and works with a team of packers to load the delivery vans. With so many routes to prepare the bakery is bustling throughout the middle of the night. “We drink a lot of coffee and the occasional Red Bull,” Mike says. “And while we work hard, there is a lot of teamwork and laughter.”

A few months back, several members of the pastry packing department were out sick. Mike saw they were in trouble. If something didn’t change, the delivery vans would be forced to leave late, meaning many cafés would be missing their Macrina pastries when they opened. Despite the fact that Mike had his own work to do, and it wasn’t his department, he donned an apron and gloves and began boxing pastries. Sergio says, “Mike has strong problem-solving skills. He finds solutions to problems and does so much for the delivery department. He is passionate, cares about getting things right, and holds his position with a lot of pride.”

As Macrina grows, new challenges arise. Mike has helped develop better organizational plans for getting our various products out of the oven and delivered to our customers. “We’re growing exponentially as a company, which brings opportunity,” Mike says. “The management team values my input. It’s nice to feel like you’re an important part of the changes that are happening.”

Rebecca Gutierrez, Pastry Manager, Belltown

Since I opened Macrina in 1993, so many amazing people have helped make the bakery what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each fills an essential role at Macrina.

When I interviewed Rebecca Gutierrez I had a hunch she would be one of our best. She had recently graduated from pastry school and was eager to learn more. She trained with one of our finest pastry chefs, Jane Cho, who is now our production manager. Rebecca has become a first-rate pastry chef. Not only does she head the pastry team at our Belltown Café, but she also does all our specialty cakes. We’re lucky to have her.

Leslie

Rebecca Gutierrez, Pastry Lead, Belltown


Nothing beats a pastry still warm from the oven, or the smell of fresh baked goods that permeates the café. Our cafés in Belltown, Queen Anne, and Sodo each have a team of pastry chefs preparing baked goods specifically for that café. Rebecca Gutierrez is not only one of our most talented pastry chefs, but she has also become a great teacher of the craft.

She grew up in Bellevue and went to pastry school at South Seattle College. After a short stint at a small wedding cake company, she discovered Macrina. Over the last seven years, she’s worked at all of our cafés at one time or another. If you’ve ordered a custom cake from us, chances are she made it. She also helps develop new products for our pastry case.

“When I interviewed for the job, I was impressed with how cool and down to earth and nice Leslie was,” Rebecca says. “If I didn’t already know, I never would have guessed she was the founder. Since the first day, I’ve liked Macrina a lot. The people are the main reason. I’ve made a lot of friends and management takes really good care of us.”

Erica Olsen, Macrina’s head pastry chef and Rebecca’s supervisor, says, “Rebecca is one of the hardest working people I know. She’s a phenomenal mentor. I enjoy working with her not just to witness her mad skills, but because time goes by so quickly when you’re working with her because she’s super funny.”

Because the pastries must be ready when the café opens, the morning pastry shift starts early. Rebecca often arrives at 4:30 a.m. She enjoys the relative calm in the kitchen before the café staff shows up. “It’s a pretty fun way to start the day,” she says. Working when others are sleeping means that sometimes you’re sleeping when they’re still playing. “I’ve had to say no to things my friends invited me to do, but they understand. They know my job comes first.”

But starting early means getting off early. And Rebecca lives near Discovery Park where she loves to go running with her dog while most others are still working. If the weather is beautiful, she likes to take an adventurous hike. 

Rebecca with her sisters and her dog

Rebecca is also very close to her family and her Mexican heritage. Her parents were raised in Eastern Washington. “My parents are both one of eight, so I have a ton of family,” she says. “Family is super important to me.” Both sets of grandparents came to Washington State as migrant farmers. Her mom and dad, born in Arizona and Texas respectively, grew up in the nearby towns of Sunnyside and Prosser. They met at Yakima Valley Community College. About the time Rebecca was born, her family moved to Bellevue.

She sees her parents at least once a week and often her brother and sisters are around, too. “There’s always something going on,” Rebecca says. “My nephew will have a recital, or one of my nieces will have something.” The family also gathers for Seahawks games. “I’m not really into sports, but I go for the food and to see everyone. My mom is a great cook.”

And her family looks out for her. Burns are not uncommon in a kitchen with so many hot things, and Rebecca has gathered her share over the years. “One of my sisters does makeup,” Rebecca says. “She jokes that if I ever get married, she’s going to have to do my arms to cover up all the scars.” 

Humor is an essential part of her family life, and likely where she picked up her great sense of humor. “They joke around a lot. They’ve started picking on my boyfriend when he joins me, good-naturedly of course. That’s how you know you’re in. They must like him because it didn’t take too long.”

Bay Phan, Wholesale Pastry

Since opening in 1993, many amazing people have helped to make Macrina what it is today. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are spotlighting a few key employees. Each represents an essential part of Macrina.

Bay Phan is an integral part of our wholesale pastry team. The team arrives in the mid-afternoon and works into the evening. Bay’s knowledge of our recipes and her precision and her skill with many types of dough is part of why our pastries are so consistently good. She leads by doing everything the right way and stays calm even when we’re in the midst of our crazy holiday rushes.

Leslie

Bay Phan

 

Bay Phan joined Macrina in 2009, shortly after arriving in Seattle from Vietnam. Her friend, Phuong Hoang Bui, our head baker, encouraged her to apply. She began in the wholesale pastry department and proved herself to be a quick learner and a hard worker. Nearly nine years later she’s become one of our leaders in the tight-knit group.

Speaking through a translator, Bay says, “There are about 20 of us, and most speak Vietnamese. We work together like a family. They know everything about me, me about them.”

“Bay is one hard worker,” says Tramy Le, the manager of the wholesale pastry team. “She’s very nice to everyone at Macrina and I am so happy to work with her.”

In 2016, Macrina’s wholesale pastry production moved from behind the Sodo café to a much larger facility in Kent. Bay says, “We were getting way too crowded there. Here we have the space we need to spread out. It’s much more comfortable.”

With growth comes new challenges, one of which is navigating the new food safety regulations. “Learning all the new rules is probably my biggest challenge, but it’s necessary,” Bay says. “But as I get used to them and all the new records I have to keep, it is getting easier. It’s a good thing!”

Training new employees who don’t speak English is another challenge for her. “Teaching employees who can’t read the recipe takes some time, but if they’re determined to learn and listen carefully, it’s rewarding. I always remember that I was like that when I started here. Once the new employee masters one pastry, we can move to the next. They become part of our family. I’m so grateful to Scott and Leslie for welcoming so many from the Vietnamese refugee community.” 

Bay lives in the Sea-Tac neighborhood with her husband and two children. Her son attends the University of Washington, and her daughter is a registered nurse working at St. Francis in Federal Way. Beyond spending time with her family, two of Bay’s great pleasures are going for walks and runs in local parks and cooking. Pho is her favorite dish. She hasn’t taken to the many other ethnic foods available in the Seattle area. “I love Vietnamese food. The only non-Vietnamese restaurant I’ve found that I like is called Mongolian Hot Pot. The food tastes really good,” she says.

Next year her daughter is getting married. The wedding planning is already underway. “My daughter is looking for an American restaurant for the wedding,” Bay says laughing. “She doesn’t want an Asian restaurant.”

Bay has returned to visit her mother and four siblings in Vietnam twice since she moved to Seattle. She says, “It’s a long trip. Twenty hours.” She hasn’t explored Washington State much, but when her daughter was in nursing school in Yakima she visited a few times. She says, “I love the farms over there. I would like to explore more in that area.”