Phuong Hoang Bui

Update: 6/14/2019Macrina’s Head Baker, Phuong Hoang Bui, started working at Macrina in 1994. To celebrate his 25th anniversary we gathered with him and his family at Palisade Restaurant to share our gratitude for everything he has done for Macrina and the way he brightens the workplace with smiles and his cheerful heart.

“The best part of the heartwarming dinner was Phuong sharing his fond memories of Macrina,” says Jane Cho, Production Manager. “Behind his kind, respectful mannerisms, he is a comedian and loves to laugh and tell a good story. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Phuong for so many years and to be inspired by someone with such integrity in everything he does.”
To learn more about Phuong’s amazing journey from Vietnam to Macrina read this blog that Leslie wrote about Phuong.

Original: 10/14/2012

Throughout my new book, More from Macrina, interspersed among the recipes and beautiful photography, are stories about the people and partnerships that make the Macrina community.

Phuong Hoang Bui has worked at Macrina for 18 years and as much as anyone, he embodies the spirit of the Macrina community in a way that makes me so proud to have him as a colleague.  I first met Phuong through the International Rescue Committee, where he had been eagerly seeking employment.  At our first meeting, Phuong conveyed a deep desire to work and to learn – I hired him as a dishwasher on the spot. This was in 1994 – just after Macrina first opened.

Phuong

While he worked as a dishwasher, Phuong would always make himself available to help with food prep, to help shape bread, and to watch the bakers load the ovens – constantly seeking opportunities to learn more so that he could grow professionally while supporting Macrina’s growth.

18 years later Phuong manages our entire wholesale production team – fifty employees in all, diverse in age, ethnicity and experience – and Phuong takes great care to help them all develop the skills to succeed in their work, and for many of them, to adapt to a new life in Seattle.

Before starting at Macrina, Phuong had been trying to get to America from his native Vietnam for some time.  His first attempt was as a boat refugee when he was captured and imprisoned for two years.  When he was released Phuong received help and support from friends and family, which led to his arrival and new life in the United States.

Today, everything Phuong does through his work at Macrina demonstrates his gratitude for the help and support he has received. Phuong works with his team to help them develop professionally and embrace new opportunities, just as he did (and continues to do).  Phuong’s desire to repay the kindness he was shown when he first arrived here reflects so much of the culture here at Macrina, and just as Phuong is grateful for the life he has here, I am grateful for the chance to have him be a part of our daily life at Macrina.

Learn more about Phuong and his amazing journey in More from Macrina. 

June Recipe of the Month: Ricotta Panna Cotta with Local Strawberries

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This recipe is in honor of Gina DePalma, the acclaimed pastry chef from Babbo restaurant in NYC. Her book, Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, inspires a reverence for simple recipes. Too often chefs over complicate dishes to make them more worthy. Sometimes less is more, a philosophy central to much of Italian cuisine. This recipe embraces straightforward preparations and quality ingredients. Good cream will really stand out, for panna cotta is one of the world’s most delightful versions of cooked cream. Sweet Washington strawberries and a Macrina Walnut Anise Wafer are perfect complements to this eggless custard.

Ingredients

Makes 6 servings

RICOTTA PANNA COTTA

1 cup whole milk ricotta

1 cup whole milk, divided

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 packet powdered gelatin (1/4 oz)

STRAWBERRY TOPPING AND ASSEMBLY

10 strawberries

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 package of Macrina’s Walnut Anise Wafers

Directions

Place the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the milk in a medium bowl and whisk to dissolve the lumps. Add the sugar, gelatin and heavy cream to a medium saucepan. Cut vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds out with a paring knife. Add the seeds and bean to the heavy cream. While whisking constantly, warm mixture just to the boiling point, then turn off the heat. Gradually pour the heavy cream mixture into the ricotta mixture and whisk to combine well. Remove the vanilla bean and strain the mixture through a fine cheesecloth or mesh strainer. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and mix to combine. Divide the mixture between 6 sorbet glasses or stemless wine glasses. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours to set.

Finely dice 9 of the strawberries and place in a medium bowl. Cover with the sugar and sprinkle in the sherry vinegar. Mix well and let sit for 1 hour before serving. Thinly slice the remaining strawberry into 6 rounds. Top each panna cotta with a strawberry round, a spoonful of sweetened diced strawberries and a sprinkle of oregano. Serve with a wafer cookie and enjoy!

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Meet our Family: The Brothers Nguyen

Macrina Bakery relies on many highly-skilled bakers. The brothers Andy and Dat Nguyen are two of our best.  

We still make all our bread by the same methods we did in 1993 when Macrina Bakery first opened in Belltown—only now we make much more of it. Long, slow rises, with carefully maintained starters and forming every loaf by hand is a labor intensive way to make bread. But it’s the way great bakers around the world have been making the best loaves for centuries. Making bread this way is who we are 

As we’ve grown, we’ve had to find and train new bakers. Our head baker, Phuong Bui, is one great example. And it was through Phoung, or more precisely, his mother, that we found two other key members of our bread team. Phuong’s mother met Andy and Dat Nguyen in an ESL class at South Seattle Community College in 2003. She mentioned her son was hiring at Macrina. Andy was the first to be hired, Dat followed a month later. 

Phuong trained them both how to shape our various loaves and they joined the forming team. Both brothers were quick learners and showed great initiative. Within a few years, they’d both mastered each of the bread-making steps: mixing, kneading, proofing, shaping, and baking. “Learning each station was difficult,” Andy says. “But now after fifteen years, even the holidays aren’t stressful, just busy.”  

Today, Dat is our Baking Assistant Manager. He oversees a crew of nearly 20, stepping in to help at every stage as needed. Sometimes it’s to speed production along, sometimes helping coach new employees, and making certain he can be proud of each loaf. “I’m thrilled Macrina has trusted me with more responsibility,” Dat says. “I take great pride in making great bread.” 

Andy works the rack ovens, baking hundreds of loaves every day. He ensures that each comes out with that crisp, caramelized crust our customers have come to know. With so many loaves and many types of bread, it’s part craft, part art and takes a high degree of precision and focused attention. 

Andy lives in Burien with his wife who followed him from Vietnam. They have an eight-year-old daughter who attends White Center Heights Elementary, which has a Vietnamese dual language program. On weekends she likes to go shopping with her father, often asking him if they can go out for a very American lunch—at McDonald’s. Andy prefers Thai food but sometimes indulges his daughter. He relaxes by tending the gardens in his backyard. 

Dat lives with his parents who emigrated to Seattle three years before Dat and Andy arrived. Dat has a six-year-old son who also attends White Center Heights elementary and is enrolled in the same dual language program as his cousin. Dat helps his aging parents with their needs. Recently, Dat has also had to contend with some of the skills his son has picked up at school, namely how to research new toys on YouTube. 

Both families remain close, often gathering on weekends and holidays. During football season they get together to root for the Seahawks. Over the years, both brothers have returned to Saigon to visit friends and family in Vietnam. Andy always makes a side trip to Long Khánh, a small city in Southeastern Vietnam to visit his wife’s family. 

At Macrina, we are incredibly proud of these two master bakers who have become part of our family. Without their talent, hard work, dedication, and ability to train and coach new employees we would not be where we are today. Thank you Dat and Andy for 15 great years! 

May Recipe of the Month: Mocha Raspberry Éclairs

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Mother’s Day always reminds me of how my mother’s passions influenced me. She was the first gourmand in our family. One of her favorite treats were éclairs from Rose’s Bakery in Portland. I have such indulgent memories of those crisp and airy cream puffs filled with pastry cream and dipped in chocolate glaze. This éclair embraces those memories with a nod to Macrina’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake. The airy golden-brown éclair is layered with rich mocha mousse and fresh raspberries. A glaze of bittersweet chocolate ganache gives balance to the creamy mousse and sends chocolate lovers like me to the moon.

Ingredients
Makes 8 éclairs

Pâte à Choux
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Mocha Mousse
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup brewed espresso
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Ganache
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Assembly
1 pint fresh raspberries
1/4 cup clear sparkling sugar
Edible flowers or petals (optional)

Preparation

Pâte à Choux
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar and butter. When the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, add the flour. With a wooden spoon, mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 1 minute to cool the mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring you’ve fully incorporated each before adding the next. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ tip. On the prepared baking sheet, pipe eight 4″ long éclairs. Leave about 1″ of space between each éclair. You can smooth out any irregularities by dipping your finger in water and brushing the dough into shape.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 10 minutes. The éclairs should sound hollow when tapped at the base. Let cool 20-30 minutes.

Mocha Mousse
Heat a double boiler and add the chocolate chips, brewed espresso and butter. Stir until the chocolate melts and the mix is combined. Cool for 15 minutes.

Add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium speed. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Whip to medium stiff peaks.

Remove bowl from mixer. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the whipped cream until it’s well combined. Keep cool until you are ready to use it.

Ganache
Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the cream begins to bubble at the edges turn off the heat. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until they melt into the hot cream. Set aside.

Assembly
Cut the top 1/4″ from each éclair. Dip or brush chocolate ganache onto each top. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse (or use a spoon). Fill each éclair base with mousse (it should rise about 1/4″ above the edge). Cut 24 raspberries in half and place 6 halves on each éclair base. Cover with the ganache-glazed top and sprinkle with clear sparkling sugar. Garnish with any extra raspberries and the edible flowers.

Enjoy!

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The (Tasty) Benefits of Heritage Grains

Does “great taste” come to mind when you think of heritage grains? 

Many Americans consider heritage grains a health food—something they should eat, not something they want to eat. Fortunately, that appears to be on the cusp of change. Top chefs and bakers have been cooking with new heritage grain hybrids with thrilling results. 

One of my favorite events of the year is Grain Gathering, an annual three-day event held every July since 2011 at the Bread Lab. Expert bakers, millers, grain scientists, farmers and industry representatives gather in the Skagit Valley. Their goal is to break the dominance of commodity wheat and to find a way to sell America on the benefits of heritage grains. Flavor is the number one selling point. Nutrition is another along with environmental sustainability. Virtually every community in America used to grow wheat. More robust heritage wheat hybrids could again make this economically feasible, benefitting local economies.  

At a Grain Gathering a few years ago, I was introduced to two hybrids developed by Bread Lab. One is called Skagit Magic, which is grown in the Skagit Valley and milled at nearby Cairn Springs Mill. The other is called Expresso Wheat (or, in the lab, T-85). It is grown in Walla Walla and also milled at Cairn Springs Mill. When I started Macrina, flours like these just weren’t available. 

For Macrina’s twenty-fifth anniversary last year, I developed two new breads that utilized these new organic flours. I spent many hours playing around with various techniques and found the heritage flours work best with a slow fermentation. This helps develop subtle, bright flavors and hydrates the bran. I made our Skagit Sourdough with the Skagit Magic. This is one of our most grain-forward and flavorful loaves. The Whole Grain Baguette is our other new loaf, which we make with the Expresso.

Skagit Valley – The Best Grains in the World

At Macrina, our two latest breads feature heritage wheats—the primary reason being the astonishing flavor they add. Edouardo Jordan, the star chef and creator of JuneBaby, named America’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, recently opened Lucinda Grain Bar, a concept focused on ancient grains. “As Americans, we eat some of the most flavorless, unhealthy grain-based products in the world,” Jordan said. “Commercialization has stripped down all the nutritional value in our grain product. We are excited to explore the flavor and potential of ancient grains.” Jordan noted that some of the best grains in the world are grown in the Skagit Valley. 

The Bread Lab, located in the Skagit Valley, deserves no small amount of credit for this. Part science lab, part high-end bakery, this extension of Washington State University occupies a 12,000 square foot space in Mount Vernon that includes a research and baking kitchen, a cytology lab, the King Arthur Flour Baking School, a milling laboratory and a professional kitchen. The director of the Bread Lab, Dr. Stephen Jones, is currently one of the most influential voices in the food world. Jones is determined to bring diversity to the range of flours widely available. Currently, the bland, chalky white flour born of industrial agriculture is found in almost all the bread sold in America. You won’t find much else at your local supermarket either. By breeding heritage grains that have both taste and nutritional benefits, but that also have the robustness that farmers need to produce high yield crops, Jones hopes to make regional grain farming viable again. 

The flour available in most grocery stores comes from wheat that has been bred to be optimal for a fast-food hamburger bun. A hundred years ago that wasn’t the case. A diverse range of heritage wheats were grown and milled in communities across America. Between 1890 and 1930 America went from over 22,000 flour mills to less than 200. The State of Washington had 160. Now there are two. The widespread use of new roller mills that could efficiently strip the grain of both the bran and the germ created a flour that had an almost indefinite shelf life ushered in this change. This coincided with the rise of the industrial production of food. We got sliced bread in plastic bags and the phrase, “The greatest thing since sliced bread.” However, we lost a wide range of regional flours milled from an incredible range of wheats, many of which had much better flavor than what worked best for industrial bakeries. Not to mention nutrition. Jones writes, “By using only the white portion of the seed, wheat is reduced from a nutrient-dense food to one that lacks basic nutrition.” 

When I started Macrina in 1993, it was thrilling to be part of the artisan bread movement that brought French and Italian-style breads to many cities in America. I’m even more excited about the heritage grain movement—so much so that I’m growing heritage wheat on my Vashon Island farm this yearSeeing grain scientists, farmers and bakers unite around the idea of building a better tasting and healthier bread may just be the greatest thing since sliced bread.  

Cafe Flora & Floret: Always Fresh and Exciting

Like flowers in spring, new restaurants are blossoming in Seattle. We have nearly 3,000 restaurants now, up more than 25 percent from a decade ago. Not many of them were around 28 years ago. And of those that were, few still feel as contemporary as Cafe Flora, the beloved Madison Valley ode to fresh Northwest produce. Cafe Flora was farm-to-table before that phrase became ubiquitous. 

Cafe-Flora

A couple of years ago, Cafe Flora’s owner, Nat Stratton-Clarke, became interested in opening a second location. He looked at Capitol Hill and Ballard. But then an intriguing and unusual opportunity arose: Sea-Tac Airport. In February of 2018, Nat opened Floret by Cafe Flora. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant is located by the Delta lounge between terminals A and B. There is a full-service restaurant that seats 80 and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those on the run, it offers coffee, pastries and healthy grab-and-go options, including hot meals. Floret has been busy since day one. 

 

Floret Shop

Floret: New Challenges Arise

Even though it’s in the airport, Floret is in a beautiful, light-filled atrium, making it reminiscent of the conservatory feeling one gets at Flora. “I wanted it to feel like Flora—and natural light is a big part of that,” says Nat“When the space became available, I really felt like it was the right one for us to bid on.” 

Floret

Like Cafe Flora, Floret serves vegetarian and vegan food, much of it made from produce freshly delivered from local farms. Nat says, “So many people are excited about good food. Most of our guests aren’t vegetarian. They’re just excited about something delicious to eat that happens to be vegetarian.” 

Floret Food

Because it’s the airport, all employees and vendors must go through security. “We had to get our farmers badged,” Nat says. “Fresh deliveries are so much a part of what we do at Flora, and we weren’t going to change just because there are a few more hurdles.”  

Floret Pinwheel

There have been logistical challenges, besides security. The airport is open 365 days a year—rain, sleet or snow. During the snows this past February, many employees stayed at an airport hotel so they could be there to prepare for the 4:30 a.m. opening. “Macrina was right there with us delivering bread and getting everything out there no matter how much snow was coming down,” Nat says. “Folks who were delayed stayed for breakfast, lunch and dinner—which was amazing. We had to close at Cafe Flora. There’s no option to close at the airport. That was new to us and we rallied together to find solutions.” 

Nat Stratton-Clarke

Nat is an avid Farmers Market shopper and market produce always finds its way onto the menu. “I love it in Seattle this time of year, when the city embraces nettles and fiddlehead ferns,” Nat says. “Other cities might hold out for asparagus and strawberries, but we get excited early. Ready for that fresh green. As much as we all love a root vegetable, by March we’re ready to say farewell to butternut squash for a couple of months. We love that bright green flavor you get from nettles. We were just talking in the kitchen about nettle pesto to go with gnocchi. Things like that are one of the really cool things about spring in the Northwest.” 

Floret Sandwich

Whether you’re on your way somewhere or looking for a great meal in the city, Cafe Flora and Floret are great dining options. You’ll enjoy exquisitely prepared meals made with produce delivered fresh daily from farms such as Local Roots in CarnationTonnemakers in Woodinville, Whistling Train Farm in Kent, and Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley. It’s no mystery why Cafe Flora is still going strong after 28 years and Floret has found such a following at Sea-Tac. 

Mammoth: Delicious Sandwiches and Beer

Hot sandwiches and cold microbrews (48 taps!) in Eastlake 

Mammoth is a mash-up of your favorite old-school sandwich joint and your favorite taproom. The airy space has a high vaulted ceiling that brings in the light, a long white-tiled bar counter lined with beer taps (and cider and wine), and a dozen or so tables.

By day, the vibe is fast and casual, with diners enjoying a hearty lunch or grabbing a sandwich to go. By night, it’s a mix of families enjoying dinner and beer nerds savoring the many microbrews on tap or from the extensive bottle collection. In fair weather, there is also outdoor seating. Maybe best of all, the prices are more than reasonable–especially considering the hearty portions and premium ingredients.  

Hannah and Grant Carter, the wife and husband duo behind Ballard’s Bitterroot BBQ, opened Mammoth just over four years ago. The passion project honors their favorite old-school sandwich joint in Missoula and their love of the local craft beer movement. Mammoth is the kind of place to kick back with a good friend or two. You can savor a hard-to-find pint of something local and fill up on food that finds the sweet spot between exacting and unfussy. Take the Predator, for example. Served on warm Macrina Pane Francese bread, they fill it with a fried chicken leg, roasted pork belly, swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, arugula and slather it with caper aioli. The chicken and pork belly are crisp, the bread tender but crusty enough to stand up to the juicy ingredients, and the peppers, arugula and aioli pack in the flavor. You’ll need plenty of napkins, or go to work with a knife and fork if that’s your style.  

We’re a family-owned business with a small staff of long-tenured employees,” says John Connolly, Mammoth’s General Manager. The many Eastlake regulars add to the comfortable, familial atmosphere. A diverse range of ages fill the place in the evenings, from hipsters who’ve made it their favorite watering hole to families enjoying dinner.  

Many of the meats are made in-house, including some that emerge from Bitterroot’s smoker such as their pulled pork. Tender roast beef is made on-site as is corned brisket, which plays a starring role in the Irish Elk, their spin on the classic Reuben. Vegetarians will also find plenty to excite the appetite. One sandwich features marinated tofu, another roasted wild mushrooms, and one has fried eggplant. Mammoth serves all sandwiches on Macrina bread with a side of homemade potato chips made fresh in their kitchen. 

Next time you’re in Eastlake—and isn’t Eastlake on the way to everywhere—drop into your new favorite neighborhood sandwich joint. You’ll sate your appetite, find a new favorite beer, and, if you’re so inclined, you can take a growler home for later.  

Menu, hours and catering info are available at mammothseattle.com. 

Mammoth |2501 Eastlake Ave E. | 206-946-1065 

April Recipe of the Month: Fried Egg Sandwich

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Fried Egg Sandwich

Macrina Bakery & Cafe Fried Egg Sandwich

The hens on my Vashon Island farm provide me with so many lovely eggs that I’m always looking for new ways to use them. One easy favorite of mine is a fried egg sandwich. This recipe is the one we use on our brunch menu at Macrina — our best-selling brunch item for years! I sampled fried egg sandwiches in San Francisco, Portland, Bainbridge Island and Seattle, before settling on this delicious combination. Add a few slices of your favorite bacon to this sandwich and it takes it to the moon!

Ingredients:

Fried Egg Sandwiches:

Makes 4

1 medium red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 loaf Rustic Potato bread, sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 slices Muenster cheese
8 eggs
1 cup spicy tomato sauce

Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Makes 1 cup

1 dried pasilla pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fried Egg Sandwiches:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel onion and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20–25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Set aside to cool.

Cut eight 1/2″ slices of our Rustic Potato bread and lightly butter one side of each slice, using approximately 4 tablespoons.

Place two slices of bread, buttered side down, in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Spread one slice with 1-1/2 teaspoon of Dijon and top the other with a slice of cheese.

While the bread is sautéing, add 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter to another nonstick pan over medium heat. Add two eggs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and fry each side to desired preference (for over-medium eggs about 1.5 minutes on each side). On the slice of bread that was spread with mustard, layer the eggs, a quarter of the roasted onions and 1/4 cup of warm spicy tomato sauce. Top with the other slice of bread, transfer to a plate and cut in half to eat more easily. Repeat to make the remaining three sandwiches.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

Place the dried pasilla pepper in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain well and let cool, then remove the core and seeds from the pepper. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan and heat to medium –low. Add the onions. Cook covered for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Stir in the garlic, cumin and coriander. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and pasilla pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This sauce is best used warm.

Enjoy!

Meet Natalie Godfrey, Macrina’s Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager

Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager

One of the best ways to audition potential sales managers is to observe them in action—selling products that aren’t your own. That is just how we came across Natalie Godfrey. Leslie Mackie was in Walla Walla to meet with some of the farmers who grow wheat for Macrina Bakery. After a long, hot day, much of it spent in the field, Leslie dropped by the tasting room at Tamarack Cellars. A handful of Macrina employees joined her. At the time, Natalie worked there as a sales associate. 

“When I met Natalie at Tamarack Cellars,” Leslie says,  “I was impressed with her vast and descriptive knowledge of the wines she was selling. She took them very seriously and shared detailed stories about the wines. Her approach was so genuine and enthusiastic that she drew all of us in. We bought a bunch of wine to take home.” 

Natalie attended high school on Bainbridge Island, which is where she first tasted Macrina’s breads. “My mom brought home Macrina bread from Town and Country all the time,” she says. Whitman College and a degree in rhetoric studies had pulled Natalie to Walla Walla, but she entertained the idea of returning to the Seattle area. At the tasting, the whole Macrina team agreed that Natalie had a natural talent for selling products so Leslie left Natalie her business card. 

Natalie decided to move back to Seattle and called Leslie who was delighted to hear from her. “The sales team is the face of Macrina,” Leslie says. “If Natalie shared a similar connection with our breads and pastries as she did with the Tamarack wines, I knew she’d be a perfect fit.” 

”When I called Leslie to ask her about a job,” Natalie says, “she emphasized how Macrina invests in their employees and offers so many opportunities for them to be nurtured by others and to grow. She was honest, and I felt like it would be a good company to work for—one that I wanted to work for!” 

Natalie started working for Macrina in January as the Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager, joining Amy Bui, General Manager of Wholesale Sales, and Fanny Alvarado, Wholesale Manager, to make up our sales team. Amy has been showing her the ropes. “Natalie has already proven to be a great fit for the role, and I look forward to working with her,” Amy says. 

“I’ve learned so much already—about bread, sales, and hard-working people—and am inspired by it all. I love how Macrina is a community of inspiring, diverse individuals who all seem united by their love of bread,” Natalie says.  

Becoming Certified: Four of Macrina Bakery’s Breads Are Officially Organic

PCC Whole Grain Baguette

For years we’ve been using more and more locally milled whole grain and whole wheat flours in our breads, all of which are organic. They just taste better. Until our recent collaboration with PCC Community Markets on our organic Whole Grain Baguette, we hadn’t considered going through the official certification process. Sharing PCC’s dedication to local organic farms, we decided it was time to make it official for our breads that already feature 100% organic ingredients: Whole Grain Baguette, Skagit Sourdough, Sour White, and Sour White Ficelle 

Organic Cairnspring Mills Flour

Becoming certified is no small feat. The USDA’s National Organic Program sets the standards. Foods that are certified organic are based on farming methods that don’t rely on toxic pesticides, and that maintain soil fertility and replenish it with only natural fertilizers. Independent third-party officials routinely inspect organic farms and processing facilities to ensure they are meeting all USDA organic standards. Not only is it good for the local ecosystem, but it often produces the best tasting food. 

Organic Cairnspring Mills Flour

We worked with Quality Assurance International (QAI) to obtain our certification. First, we had to ensure that every ingredient, from farm to supplier, is organic and handled in strict accordance with all USDA organic standards. We also had to be sure that all of our internal processes met the same USDA qualifications. There can be no risk of cross-contamination with non-organic ingredients, which meant designing an organic-only section of our bakery, a dedicated organic-only mixer, strict tracking procedures for all ingredients, and an exhaustive cleaning process for our ovens before baking our organic loaves.  

We received our official organic certification on December 26, 2018, it took about six months to make it official. Blake Gehringer, Macrina’s Food Safety General Manager, oversaw the intensive process. The application alone was 30 pages. Then a great deal of thought had to go into everything from color-coded storage containers to new baker’s couches and intensive training for all of our bakers. 

Skagit Sourdough

I’m proud of our decision to certify these breads as organic. Walking through the wheat fields at the Williams Hudson Bay Farm, one of the largest Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe farms in the region located near Walla Walla, it’s hard not to be humbled by their dedication to organic farming. It’s not the easiest way to do things, but it ensures a healthy and sustainably grown product and promotes soil and water conservation. We’re also fortunate that we have local mills, such as Cairnsprings Mill and Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, that can produce small-batch organic flours for us. And most of all, I’m excited our customers and partners are interested in quality artisan organic products.  

Leslie