Meet Diana Yelton: GM at the Aloha Café

Ultimately, it was Macrina’s Greek Olive Loaf that led Diana to our café. A recent transplant to Seattle in 2016, Diana was looking for a job when her boyfriend showed up with a loaf of his new favorite bread—the Greek Olive Loaf. He casually mentioned that he’d noticed a sign saying Macrina was hiring. 

Diana and her boyfriend had moved to Seattle from New York City where Diana had worked in independent film production. Out of college, she had considered a career as a teacher, but student teaching had talked her out of that. Her job requirements were only that she didn’t want to be cooped up in an office. “I’m an extrovert,” Diana says. “Being around people gives me energy. I loved Macrina’s bread and it seemed like a fun place to work so I interviewed.”  

Customers and coworkers alike were quickly impressed with her hard work, kindness and spirited personality. When the Aloha café opened in September 2018, Diana was an instrumental part the opening crew. When the tightly knit community of North Capitol Hill filtered in to check us out, Diana’s product knowledge and bright, lively personality helped introduce Macrina to everyone.  Everyone who has ever opened a new retail business knows just how challenging it is. There’s hardly been a quiet moment since we opened the doors, so strong customer service skills and a good work ethic have been bench tested. “We have so many regulars already,” Diana says. “You know their favorite pastry before you know their name. Seeing familiar faces in line is definitely a great part of the job.” 

When the General Manager position opened up in June 2019 it was clear Diana had earned the nod. “I was honored to be offered the job,” Diana says. “I worked my way up and feel like they saw something in me. Scott and Leslie are at the Aloha café frequently and both are very open and supportive. When I’m hiring it helps to be able to say very honestly that the company culture is really good, and there are many opportunities for growth.” 

 

 

 

October Recipe of the Month: Creamy Mushroom & Chicken Bread Soup

It’s high time to bring this retro favorite back into style! Our Mini Macrina Casera Loaf is the perfect size for making bread bowls and is crusty enough to contain the soup. The lovely texture of this creamy chicken and mushroom soup is created by puréeing the broth with some of the bread you remove to make the bowls. Homemade stock makes this crowd-pleaser even more flavorful.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

4 Mini Macrina Casera loaves (8 ounces each)

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

4 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided

8 ounces chicken breast

3/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

3/4 cup carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3/4 cup celery, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1/2 cup white wine

8 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup (2 ounces) Gruyère cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

Cut a 1″ deep circle, about 4″ to 5″ in diameter, across the top of each Mini Macrina Casera loaf. Then cut beneath each circle to create a lid for the soup bowls. Using your fingers or a spoon, carve out the center of the loaves, leaving the edges about 1/2″ thick. Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the bread you’ve removed, and reserve it for adding to the soup. Brush approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside each bread bowl and on the underside of the lids. Set the bowls aside.

In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Brown the mushrooms then remove and set aside. In this same pan over medium-high heat, brown the chicken breast on each side for 2 minutes and then set aside. It will finish cooking in the soup base, so the browning here is just to develop flavor.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 2-4 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, rosemary and remaining teaspoon of thyme. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the white wine and simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add the chicken breast, chicken stock and the reserved bread. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken breast and let cool for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

Pour the soup mixture into a food processor. Do not fill it higher than the top of the blade. Secure the lid and purée the soup. Repeat in batches until you’ve puréed all the soup. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender that works as well.

Over medium heat, return the soup to the saucepan and add the heavy cream.

Coarsely chop the chicken breast and sautéed mushrooms. Add them to the soup and let cook for another 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the oiled bread bowls and lids on the prepared baking pan and bake for 5 minutes.

Fill the bowls with soup and top with Gruyère. Carefully return the baking sheet to the oven for 3 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve each bread soup bowl topped with its lid. The crispy lid makes for a great soup dipper and don’t forget to enjoy the bowl itself once you’ve spooned out all the soup. It’s delicious!

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