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!