The Fresh Batch: Mi Kim
Name: Mi Kim
Current City: Seattle, WA
Current Job: Pastry Chef at Macrina Bakery
What is your background in pastry and how did you get to where you are today?
Right out of high school I attended Western Culinary Institute, a Le Cordon Bleu Program located in Portland, OR. There, I was involved in competition and our coach and my mentor, Tina Powers, was up in Seattle for an event and met Leslie Mackie. Chef Powers knew I had plans to return to WA after school so she put in a good word for me. I was hired on after my internship and have been at Macrina ever since!
What do you love about your job?
I love that this job has constantly changed throughout the past 7 years. There’s always something new to learn, challenges to overcome, and new responsibilities to take on! I also love seeing others grow around me. It’s really fulfilling to see others take the skills you teach them and utilize them to succeed!
What are your favorite products to make? Why?
I tend to get a bit obsessed with certain things. Sometimes it’s an ingredient and other times it’s a style of pastry. Pate a Choux is definitely my favorite pastry to make. I love the versatility of the dough, you can make it sweet or savory, round or long, the possibilities are endless! Flavor wise, I am a bit obsessed with peanut butter. Last year my team and I developed a new dessert, our Peanut Butter Crunch Cake. It has a creamy peanut butter filling layered with our moist Mom’s chocolate cake and it sits on top of a crunchy layer of fuilletine and is glazed with ganache. I love texture, and this cake has it all.
What do you consider to be the biggest food trends impacting your business, and how are you responding?
Ingredients seem to be a trend. Nowadays everyone wants to know what they are eating. Organic? Non GMO? Is our sugar vegan? Gluten free items? We want to give our customers the best products possible and we care about how our products affect them. We are moving towards being a GMO free facility, use organic flours as much as possible and Leslie has developed our own gluten free flour mix to use in our products.
What is the best advice you have received from other bakers/ chefs? How has it helped you?
It’s surprising because the best advice I’ve gotten about my career isn’t from a baker or a chef. It’s actually from one of the owners of Macrina. In passing, he told me, “make this job what you want it to be”. It seems pretty simple and all, but at that point in time it gave me a different perspective on things, and perspective is everything when it comes to happiness. It encouraged me to take initiative and responsibility of my own growth.
What is the best thing you’ve eaten lately?
I took a bread class at SFBI (San Francisco, CA) and while I was there I visited a lot of bakeries. The kougin aman at B. Patisserie was amazing. Not only was it beautiful, but the flavor was perfectly sweet and the texture perfectly flaky. I was pleasantly surprised to find a little pocket of liquid sugar in the center as I bit into it and fell in love.
When you are not in the bakery, where can you be found?
I’m usually at home in the kitchen cooking up our meals for the week or trying out new recipes and ideas for my blog. I love having the blog because it is another creative outlet for me that helps to keep my passion alive! Other than that I keep myself busy with special cakes for friends, attempting to be active, and trying to keep my donut addiction at bay.
In terms of innovation, what do you think your generation brings to the table?
I think my generation brings fusion to the table. As they say, America is a huge melting pot. Society is mixing and mingling and so is our food. The range of cuisines is vast in America and in some cities you can have just about anything you want, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, American, Indian, Italian, Hungarian (Seattle is a great example). Our generation celebrates the bold flavors of each, steps it up a notch and combines two seemingly opposite cuisines and creates a new combination of flavors. So far everything I’ve tried has been delicious! I’m excited to see what other combinations people will come up with in the future!
What is something you would like to achieve that you have not done already? Why?
I would love to compete more in the future! I find myself missing the rush of competition that I experienced in pastry school. I loved training/prepping for the big day and putting my all out there on the competition floor!