Meet Marc Mitchell: Food Safety GM

At heart, Marc Mitchell is a baker. He studied at Le Cordon Bleu before coming to work at Macrina Bakery in 2013. Marc started on our bread team before moving to wholesale pastry, where he took on leadership roles. But when the position of Food Safety GM opened up late in 2020, Marc’s skills made him a natural fit for the job. He applied and got it.

Not only is he intimately familiar with the various departments, but also with the people, processes and the vital importance of food safety. Like any great pastry chef, Marc is very attentive to detail, which serves him well in his new role. Working closely with Blake Gehringer, Macrina’s Production Manager, Marc oversees every element of food safety at our bakery and cafés. He spends his days training, answering questions, observing, documenting, testing and continuously learning.

One of Marc’s challenges is teaching employees whose first language isn’t English. But Marc has transcended the challenge by learning some Vietnamese, getting translation help when needed, visual aids and frequently demonstrating the proper procedure. “I teach by showing,” he says.

Raised in Washington state to a Filipino mother and American father, Marc learned to love Filipino food. When he’s not working, he and his wife (also Filipino) love to cook chicken adobo and other classic Filipino dishes.

As a kid, Marc learned to work on cars with his father, who sadly is no longer with us. The passion continues, and in his free time, Marc can often be found tinkering under the hood. Pressed on his dream car, Marc thinks a moment, then says, “Ferrari 458 Italia. It’s very nice, but not too bad on the pocket—as Ferraris go.”

Macrina’s Core Value Winners

Macrina Bakery was born of a dream. Leslie Mackie wanted to build a vibrant community around her love of artisan breads. The early days in Belltown, back in 1993, were a whirl of activity and excitement. The crowds gathered, the bread earned a loyal following and garnered awards, and as demand mounted, we opened a wholesale business. Behind every success was a team of talented and hard-working individuals.

A few years ago, we sat down to find words for the values that drive us. We considered the many valuable contributions of our diverse team of bakers, pastry chefs, savory cooks, baristas, café staff and delivery drivers that make up Macrina. We identified five core values: Hard working, remaining positive, continuously improving, embracing diversity, and integrity in all we do. Then we established an annual award for each value.

Our 2020 core value winners lead by example, and their commitment to excellence is a big part of what makes Macrina Bakery shine.

Hard Working: Juan Carlos Machorro, Steward Lead
In this tough year, Juan Carlos has impressed everyone with his resolve to get the job done. Pandemic-related staff cuts made for a lean crew, and it seemed no challenge was too much for Juan Carlos. From fixing water meters for the baking department to snaking clogged floor drains, to washing dishes and taking out the garbage, Juan Carlos, sweat on his brow, works tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything work.

Remaining Positive: Josh Kull, Sodo Lead 
Whether interacting with a customer or a fellow worker, Josh is cheerful, kind and genuine. All of our core values could describe Josh, but his ability to remain positive, especially in the toughest situations, stands out. His positive attitude is infectious and inspires those around him, uplifting the entire staff.

Continuously Improving: Theo Ngo, Savory Department, Assistant Manager 
In 2018, Theo was promoted to assistant manager in our savory department because of his attention to detail and ability to step into any position in savory. To improve efficiency, he developed spreadsheets to capture weekly production numbers for our savory items. Theo’s attention to detail and his determination to continuously improve our ordering, inventory, and new product rollouts has made us better able to survive the many business challenges presented by Covid-19.

Embracing Diversity: Scott Romine, Human Resources, Assistant Manager
At Macrina Bakery, we employ people from many nations and diverse cultural backgrounds. Scotty’s job in human resources often puts him in the position of assessing someone’s ability to succeed in a particular job. Scotty values a diverse workplace. With respect for each applicant, Scotty takes the time to listen and answer questions and to carefully find someone with the attitude and skills needed for the job he is hiring for. Scotty’s work has brought more diversity to the Macrina crew.

Integrity in All We Do: Jennifer Truong, Wholesale Office, General Manager 
At our current scale of operations, ensuring integrity in all we do requires thorough attention to every detail. As the general manager of our wholesale office, Jen interacts with both customers and staff. She brings compassion and directness to the task. Her attentive management and the improvements she has made to our procedures and systems help keep the many parts of Macrina moving in harmony.

Cinnamon Rolls, Two Ways 

When Leslie Mackie opened Macrina in 1993, one of the most time consuming jobs was rolling out the laminated dough for pastries like our hazelnut pinwheels and morning rolls. Leslie considered using laminated dough for cinnamon rolls, but decided not to stress the pastry team more than it already was. Instead, she turned to the bread team for brioche dough.

“The brioche has all the same delicious rich ingredients as the laminated dough but in different proportions,” Leslie says. “I decided to go for a classic more traditional cinnamon roll, similar to my Grandmother Bakke’s homemade version, which leaned toward our brioche dough.”

In 2017, we opened our dream bakery in Kent for wholesale production. Finally, we had temperature-controlled spaces and room for a piece of equipment called a sheeter, which is used for laminated dough. With the new capacity, we launched our line of cornetti, the Italian version of the French croissant.

And now, a new cinnamon roll.

The buttery laminated dough is layered with brown sugar and cinnamon and topped with cream cheese frosting. Leslie says, “They have this succulent texture and taste that sends you to the moon.”

Those of you who love our brioche cinnamon rolls need not worry—after more than 25 years of making them we are not going to stop. But you do have to choose: classic or ultimate. The difference is in the dough. The classic is more bread-like, the ultimate has the flaky texture of our cornetti. Both are filled with brown sugar and cinnamon and topped with silky-smooth not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting.

You can buy the new cinnamon rolls individually in our cafés. The 6-pack Classic Cinnamon Roll Tray is also available in our cafés and at local retailers of Macrina products.

To Make Great Banh Mi, Start with the Right Bread 

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or Tet, falls on February 12 this year. The day is a significant holiday at Macrina. Our head bakers, Phuong Hoang Bui and Thanh Huyen Dang, are Vietnamese, as are many of our bakers. Artisanal French and Italian traditions influence most of our bread, and the food in our cafes hews Mediterranean with a few American favorites thrown in, but an exception is our Bui Bun, made for banh mi, which was developed by Phuong with help from the bread team.

Banh Mi, the classic street-vendor Vietnamese sandwich, is one of the best comfort foods around. In Seattle, options abound, from traditional to hybrid. The one constant, in our favorites at least, is the right bread—fresh and airy, with the right mix of crackle, spring, and chew.

The baguette was introduced to Vietnam during French colonial rule in the early twentieth century. The earliest “banh mi” were straightforward, sometimes just a smear of butter and some ham or pâté, in the traditional Parisian fashion. But over time, both the bread and toppings evolved to become the unique, zesty Vietnamese sandwich that has claimed a spot in the global hall of culinary fame. Stacked with variations on satisfying fillings like cured and cooked pork, sliced ham, chicken liver pâté, green herbs, pickled vegetables, chili peppers, and spiced-up mayonnaise, the banh mi toppings are held together by a Vietnamese-style baguette or roll. The complex flavor of banh mi is a swirl of history, complementary and contrasting flavors, and a riot of textures—crunchy and tender—that make many other sandwiches seem boring in comparison.

For years, we served a bahn mi sandwich in the Macrina cafés on our Giuseppe Panini Baguette. We filled them with tofu, roast pork, chicken or flank steak, and classic banh mi toppings. It was good, but not quite right—we needed the right bread.

We turned to Phuong, who has been our head baker for over 20 years. Phuong started at Macrina as a dishwasher in early 1994, just after Macrina opened, and quickly proved himself to be a quick learner and skilled with bread in all its phases—dough, proofing, shaping, and baking.

“Phuong took the lead on developing an authentic banh mi bun, a product we’d later name after him,” says Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder. “He involved many of his fellow Vietnamese bakers at Macrina, bringing the whole bread production team together, including seeking out recipes from various cousins and parents, here and back in Vietnam. After months of testing, getting special pans, and testing it with our staff, customers, we launched our Bui Buns named after Phuong.”

The Bui Bun has a crisp crust and tender, airy crumb, just right for the perfect banh mi sandwich. Moreover, the bun, its creators, and the team-oriented approach symbolize one of our core values at Macrina: celebrating diversity.

To Phuong, Huyen, our fantastic crew, and everyone who celebrates the Lunar New Year, we wish you a year full of blessings and good fortune. Thank you for everything.

 

February Recipe of the Month: Salted Caramel Brownies

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we thought it was an excellent time to send out the recipe for this decadent treat. For chocolate lovers, there’s not much better than the densely-textured, fudgy taste of a brownie. These brownies marry sweet, salty and bitter better than nearly any dessert we’ve tried. Bitter ground coffee finds balance in the caramel, as does the semisweet chocolate in the sea salt. The caramel cream cheese may have you wondering just how many brownies are too many. The caramel sauce is simple to make, but Fran’s Caramel Sauce is an excellent substitution if you’re in a rush.

-Leslie Mackie

Ingredients:
Makes nine 3 x 3-inch brownies

BROWNIES
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground coffee
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

CARAMEL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup caramel sauce, room temperature
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp coarsely ground Himalayan or Hawaiian pink sea salt

Directions:

BROWNIES
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Line the base of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment. Brush the pan sides with canola oil and lightly dust with flour, so the brownies release easily.

Place a stainless steel bowl over a medium saucepan filled with 2 inches of boiling water to create a double boiler. Add the butter and unsweetened chocolate to the bowl. Melt until combined and remove from the heat. Add the sugars, coffee, salt and vanilla. Whisk until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until each is fully incorporated before adding another. Using a spatula, fold in the flour and semisweet chocolate chips until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. A toothpick should come out dry when the brownies are set.

Let cool for 30 minutes. Remove from pan.

CARAMEL CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the caramel sauce, brown sugar and vanilla. Cream until smooth and without any lumps.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies and sprinkle with pink sea salt. Cut into 9 pieces. Enjoy!

Printable PDF here.
Printable caramel sauce PDF here.