Meet Our Family: Mi Kim

Mi Kim

Mi Kim found her path early on. Growing up baking treats for her friends and helping out in her parents’ restaurant, Mi has always felt most comfortable in the kitchen. Now she helps manage ours as head pastry chef. Today Mi gives us a glimpse into her journey over the last five years and shares her best advice for aspiring pastry chefs.

When did you know you wanted to work with pastry?

In school my best friend and I used to always bake, and my parents owned a restaurant, so I was always in the kitchen. Junior year of high school, I realized that I couldn’t sit in a classroom and I loved food, so I figured why not try baking. So, I went to school at Western Culinary Institute [now Le Cordon Bleu School for Culinary Arts]. My mentor met Leslie [Mackie] and she told her about me and I got hired on as an intern.

How did you work your way up to head pastry chef?

I was the [pastry] lead at McGraw for a while and then [Production Manager] Jane [Cho] started doing wedding cakes at SODO. Jane was working constantly, like 16-hour days, so when I’d have time at McGraw I would call her to see if she needed help. At first, I helped her out with sheet cakes and then started taking on more and more until we decided it was time for me to take over. It was a good way to learn, because it wasn’t overwhelming and I got to build my skills slowly.

I like learning and getting to a certain point where I’m comfortable and then taking it on on my own. That’s something that keeps me going. Getting into the pastry chef position and taking on wedding cakes full on were big accomplishments for me.

What do you love most about being a pastry chef?

I’ve always really enjoyed making specialty cakes, more so even than wedding cakes. Say someone comes in with a picture or an idea of something I’ve never done before, I love jumping in and seeing how it turns out. I just love that creative aspect.

I still love making croissant dough and doing the turns by hand. I like the feel of the dough and the smell of yeast. I really like brioche products too. Forming the Ham & Cheese Brioche is still so satisfying.

What’s your favorite thing to eat at Macrina?

I love upside down cakes for their sugary, caramelized flavor. I really like the Morning Glory Muffin, because it has the [turbinado sugar] on top. It’s so good. The Rick’s [Chocolate Apricot Espresso] Cookie is one of my favorites. I’d never thought of putting apricots in things, but it’s so good.

What advice would you give to an aspiring pastry chef?

Flexibility is something I hold highly in people. It branches into so many things. I think to be successful you need flexibility to handle certain situations. Problem-solving skills and good attitudes are also things I look for when I’m hiring people. Having schooling is one thing, but if you have that drive and attitude and you don’t have schooling, I almost value that more. We’re so big on morale here and everyone having a great attitude and wanting to be here. That’s what leads to success. You have to love something in order to get good at it, no matter where you start.

Meet Our Family: Crystal Kitchin

Overseeing all of our locations might sound daunting, but our illustrious general manager of cafés, Crystal Kitchin, starts each day with a smile – and maybe one of our pastries too! Her indelible spirit and drive are palpable, which undoubtably motivates our team members and keeps our customers coming back for more. Having recently celebrated her anniversary with Macrina Bakery, we caught up with Crystal to chat about her time in this essential role, what it means to work for Macrina, and how she unwinds from it all.

Crystal Kitchin

As Macrina Bakery’s general manager of cafés, there’s never a dull moment, I’m sure. What does a typical day look like for you?

I would have to say that this is very true. There is never a dull moment, but my days are never typical – unless you expect the unexpected on a regular basis. I usually start my day around 6:00 a.m. and it doesn’t slow down. But, seeing the sun rise never gets old. I work closely with all the café managers and crew on a daily basis. You can find me in the cafés helping customers pick out a pastry or making a latte any day of the week.

What do you love most about your job?

I love working closely with all the cafés’ employees and getting to know the regulars at each location. The best part of my day is seeing the regulars and knowing we are a big part of their morning rituals that can’t be missed.

What are some of the highlights of your time with Macrina?

  • Working closely with Leslie Mackie has been an honor. She is an inspiration.
  • The holidays are crazy but a lot of fun. We get to send our customers home with the best bread and holiday treats to enjoy with their families.
  • Last year I had a chance to make dinner and feed the homeless with Macrina at St. James Cathedral. This has left quite an impression on me, and I would like to do more to help our community.
  • Promoting crew members from within and helping train them for successful roles at Macrina Bakery.
  • [Assisting in] renovations at our Belltown and McGraw locations to help them be more efficient and create more space for our customers.

What is your favorite thing about Macrina Bakery?

I love working for Macrina and what it stands for in terms of quality, customer service, and care for our employees. We continue to grow but maintain the personal connection with our customers.

My favorite bread is the Olivetta – it pairs well with just about anything or is great by itself. The ingredients and products are made with so much love and soul that it’s so hard to pass up trying something new and delicious everyday. I would also say the employees that make up Macrina are filled with the same ingredients, which makes it a pleasure to go to work everyday.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my husband and our husky. I also enjoy kayaking, swimming, and anything that has to do with being outside in the summer. Cooking is also one of my passions. I enjoy playing around with different recipes to make them healthier.

The Feast of St. Macrina

We had such a great time at our annual Feast of St. Macrina event! Each year our family gathers in honor of the bakery’s namesake to bond over our shared love of great food and community. While St. Macrina the Younger’s actual feast day is today, we spent Tuesday evening unwinding over dinner and games.

After closing the cafés a little early, Owner Leslie Mackie, Savory Chef Elizabeth Hall, and Production Manager Jane Cho prepared an incredible meal for the entire group.

Group Dinner

A Macrina family dinner wouldn’t be complete without an amazing dessert. Summer Shortcake featuring our Shortcake Biscuit, fresh berries, and vanilla ice cream was the grand finale. You can find the recipe for this perfect summer treat attached to bags of our Shortcake Biscuits.


Summer Shortcake Prep1

After dinner we split into teams for a rollicking relay race that included a beanbag toss, cupcake eating contest, and cake writing competition. The rain moved in at one point, but that didn’t stop us from having fun.

Toss Pair1

Cake Eating Comp2

There’s nothing like some friendly competition to bring our family closer. We really couldn’t ask for a better group of people to spend the day with. Thank you, Seattle, for giving us the afternoon off!

Cake Writing Group

Look for more photos from our 2013 Feast of Macrina event on our Facebook page.

Gluten Freedom: Our favorite gluten-free goodies

Gluten-Free Fresh Fruit Muffin

Living gluten-free should never mean missing out on delicious baked goods, settling for a less than stellar product, or paying more for your treat.

We tested recipes around the clock to improve and expand our gluten-free pastry offerings, and in the process found that we didn’t have to sacrifice flavor or texture when making baked goods without gluten.

The magic is in our flour. Owner Leslie Mackie worked diligently to create this special flour, which combines brown rice and sorghum flours instead of garbanzo bean flour often found in commercial gluten-free flours. We use this signature flour in all of our *gluten-free offerings, and even those of us who can tolerate gluten enjoy these treats.

“The highest compliment we are getting is that they don’t taste like gluten-free items,” adds Leslie. “Many like the Fresh Fruit Muffins even better than the all-purpose flour original!”

Anyone who’s tasted our Ganache Cupcake, Gluten-Free Biscuit, Macaroons, Torta Gianduja or Banana Cake will tell you how great they are, but we’ll let you be the judge. Pick up one of our gluten-free treats today and see if you notice the difference.

*Our gluten-free items are made in a gluten-friendly environment, so there may be cross-contamination.