This June marks the first Immigration Heritage Month, which was initiated by Welcome.us and officially recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives. We take pride in our racially and ethnically diverse family, knowing that we aren’t all so different. Each of us found our way to Macrina through our love of good food and people.
Led by Vietnam-native Tramy Thi Le, our Wholesale Department is made up largely of Vietnamese immigrants. Managing a team of professional bakers requires a wealth of patience, a heap of resilience and a healthy dose of humor. In Tramy’s case, it also requires expertise in two languages.
Tramy and her husband moved to America from Vietnam nearly 14 years ago. The couple was ready for a big change and a better life, and they were willing to make some sacrifices along the way.
Tramy credits adjusting to the chilly Pacific Northwest climate from balmy Vietnam as the biggest hurdle, not the language barrier. “I went to school to learn English as a second language at Seattle Central Community College. After I finished school, my husband’s friend was doing social work and knew where I could find a job. He introduced me to Macrina Bakery.”
Tramy’s previous career as a teacher didn’t exactly set her up with the knowledge she needed at Macrina to craft everything from scones to cookies for our expansive list of wholesale partners, but her love of cooking gave her a foundation from which to build. Tramy’s incredible work ethic fueled her passion and she spent six years learning everything she could in the Wholesale Pastry Department. She soon landed the job of Wholesale Pastry assistant manager and then moved up to general manager.
“Right now, I manage 20 people and many of them are Vietnamese,” she says. “Professional baking is fine for me, because I have so much experience now. I know each of the products; its color, ingredients, when it is ready. That’s all easy for me. But, the big challenge is training the new people. Some people don’t speak English well, or they only speak a little bit.”
Not only does Tramy bridge the gap between our wholesale partners and the bakery, she serves as a liason for our team members; translating, teaching and even transcribing recipes from English into Vietnamese. But, Tramy says, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Macrina is like my home. We’re very busy all the time, but I’m very happy here. I just come in every day and smile.”