“I need one vegetarian, please.” “Do we have undressed salad?” These were some of the shouts heard coming from the kitchen as our staff prepared and served dinner last Wednesday night. This wasn’t the Macrina kitchen. It was the Cathedral Kitchen, an outreach program of St. James Cathedral in Seattle that serves a nournishing, hot meal five nights a week to people who are homeless and those in need.
Seven Macrina employees shared what they love most: food. “It was such a pleasure to be able to take what we do every day – cooking and baking to provide the best product to our customers – and prepare a meal with these same intentions for people who typically don’t have the opportunity to eat in our cafes,” stated Leslie Mackie, Macrina Bakery’s founder. Leslie gathered a corps of dedicated staff, including Elizabeth Hall, Scott France, Crystal Kitchin, Fanny Alvarado, Rebecca Early, and Jane Cho, who were inspired to help.
The staff, busy ordering food in the days prior, were blessed by the generosity of vendors like Merlino’s, who donated everything that we ordered for the meal. Arriving at 11:00 AM to accept deliveries and prepare food, Leslie didn’t think of it as a long day. “Everyone was so pleased to be there, so it seemed like fun,” she commented.
A project dear to her heart, Leslie planned a menu of comfort food. The staff and St. James volunteers helped cook the meal of meatballs (or mushrooms) with a red sauce on pasta; salad with cranberries, walnuts, feta, and balsamic dressing; our Guiseppe Loaf topped with garlic, butter, salt, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese; and our Mom’s Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream.
At 4:30 PM, guests were lined up on the sidewalk awaiting their warm meal. The volunteers at the Cathedral Kitchen take pride in their welcoming dining experience complete with tablecloths. “Our theory is, if we wouldn’t eat it ourselves, we don’t serve it,” stated Jill McAuliffe, Director of the Cathedral Kitchen. She added that having a business come in to cook and serve a meal is a rarity; however, she’s got quite a few fans at Macrina. The staff will be back in August as part of our 20th anniversary celebration.
It’s easy to see why volunteers and diners come back on a regular basis. Music in the background wafted from the rear of the dining area, where guest, Billy Jones performed hits from Gershwin to Mozart. He eats and plays almost every night at the kitchen. Wesley Beshears, whose been dining at St. James for a year, decided two months ago to volunteer before and after each meal.
Praises from diners and volunteers were noted: “I’m stuffed!” “I can tell it was a great meal. There’s not much garbage.” Scott added, “I was touched by how appreciative the folks were. Everyone in line said please and thank you. It was obvious how much the meal meant to them.”