Sam won our 2023 Core Value Award for Embracing Diversity
Each life has its own propensity for illumination, a moment when purpose and passion converge to cast a guiding light. Sam Stout found hers at Macrina, a much larger company than she’d previously worked for. A veteran pastry chef with a resume that includes some of Seattle’s finer restaurants, Sam found her work life abruptly interrupted by the pandemic. After five months of unemployment, a friend mentioned Macrina might be looking for someone with her expertise. With her experience, Sam was hired into the retail pastry department in 2020.
Initially, Sam felt somewhat out of place working within a larger team. “When I started at Macrina, I thought it was going to be temporary until I could get back to a pastry chef position at a restaurant,” Sam says. However, as she settled in to her new role, the quality and creativity of the pastries and desserts impressed her. Even more important was how comfortable she felt in the kitchen and the respect with which she was treated. She developed a special bond with Katarina Ducharme, the Pastry General Manager, and found Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder, to be both warm and inspiring. “I was able to see a future with Macrina that promised stability and opportunities to grow.”
Macrina’s retail pastry team creates all the specialized pastries for the cafés, including the mousse cakes, pies, and cakes. Working in the space behind Macrina’s Sodo café, their creations are on display through large windows at the back of the café. “It’s especially fun when the kids watch,” Sam says. “Sometimes we sneak out and give them a cookie.”
Last year, Macrina participated in the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) Spring Spark, a whimsical fundraiser where creativity, community, and confections are celebrated. Leslie and Sam collaborated with PNB star Lucien Postlewaite to invent a new dessert, which they named Oberon’s Rose Pavlova. Comprising a rose meringue with raspberry lychee mousse, fresh berries, and gold dust, it clinched the title for best dessert in the playful competition. “That was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” says Sam. “It was the first time I’d gotten to spend a lot of time with Leslie. Creating food with her was wonderful. I’m so glad we’ve been invited to participate again this year.”
Macrina’s Core Value Awards — Hard Working, Remaining Positive, Continuously Improving, Embracing Diversity, and Integrity in All We Do — are among the company’s highest honors. During the presentation of the 2023 awards, Sam sat beside Leslie, who rose to introduce the Embracing Diversity award. As Leslie spoke, Sam was taken aback to hear praise for qualities that mirrored her own. “It took a moment for me to recognize she was talking about me,” says Sam.
Outgoing and friendly, Sam has illuminated the paths of many who work alongside her. She meets people where they are and finds ways to bring out their best. “I love to teach people to bake,” says Sam. “If you’re willing to learn and listen, make mistakes, pick yourself up, and learn from it, I can teach you.”
As Leslie proudly presented the Embracing Diversity award to Sam, it was a moment of affirmation for the values that stand at the center of Macrina. “She has brought so much creative energy to our retail pastry team,” says Leslie. “Sam and Katarina bubble up ideas and exhaust themselves perfecting the recipes. Sam has worked in restaurants for years and has distilled the best of all those experiences into creating an inclusive environment at work. The result is an inspired staff that truly feels valued. We so appreciate all that she brings to our Macrina family.”
Originally from Midland, Texas, Sam moved to Seattle in 2014 and fell in love with the city and surroundings. “Seattle is so beautiful,” she says. “There’s so much water — greens and blues everywhere. I love rain. I grew up with tumbleweeds and tarantulas. I miss my family but not the sun and heat. And I just love the ferries, the many long bridges over water, and the great food around here.”