Locals to Know: The Pastry Project

Today, we’re talking to the women behind The Pastry Project, a local org that provides free baking and pastry training to individuals with barriers to education and jobs in the industry. Co-founders Emily Kim and Heather Hodge partner with local nonprofits to find applicants to the program and place students in over twenty Seattle bakeries, dessert shops and grocery stores after graduation.

Thanks for talking to the Evergrey! Tell our readers a bit about The Pastry Project. 

We started The Pastry Project after seeing there were significant barriers to entry for pastry jobs, especially for those with limited resources. We were working at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, and at the time, Emily was the director of social impact and Heather was the head chef. In working with community partners to offer entry-level jobs to people, we saw that for kitchen jobs, in particular, it was very hard to offer a job to someone with no experience. Also, it was expensive to get pastry experience and not an option for many. That’s why we decided to create a free, 14-week pastry training program and job opportunity pipeline.

What’s your role within the organization? 

We are cofounders. Emily is the community impact director and Heather is the culinary director. We both do so many jobs – it’s just us and one part-time employee right now. Heather is the student instructor, the recipe developer, the ingredients sourcer and operations manager. Emily is the community partner manager and works with the organizations that refer students as well as the companies who hire them. She also does our marketing and social media, customer service and shipping and fulfillment!

Who do you partner with to find students for the program?

We partner with several local nonprofits, places that work with individuals who are trying to get jobs, and community members who are helping people to create more stability in their lives and more opportunities for living in our city. We partner with organizations like Mary’s PlaceChief Seattle ClubYMCACasa LatinaLambert House and The Boys & Girls Club, among many others!

What’s a day-to-day look like for you in the Project? Where does the magic happen? 

We run The Pastry Project out of our shop and kitchen space in Pioneer Square. Every day is different, but we do need to get a lot of the same stuff done each week. We try to have our big planning and strategizing meetings at the beginning of the week for operations, sales and marketing. We make and ship pastry kits usually on Wednesdays while we do R&D for classes and kits. We teach corporate pastry classes and public classes during the week as well. We have our student classes on Fridays, and once a month we have Goody Box days on Saturdays. These things (subscriptions, classes, events, donations and incubator residencies for small businesses) are what keep the project funded.

Outside of your work with the Pastry Project, what keeps you busy?

Emily can be found at Sounders games, visiting her parents on Bainbridge Island or volunteering for local organizations. She also just started teaching a communications class at UW! Heather loves to cook and garden and is also studying to be a sommelier.

Where are we likely to find you out and about in Seattle?

We love visiting other pastry businesses! We recently visited Flora BakehouseDeep Sea Sugar & Salt and Hood Famous Bakeshop, and we are taking our students to visit Molly Moon’s this month. We also like to try to have cofounder dinners – Communion and Musang are on the list.

What’s a project you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

We are getting ready to launch our first retail product! It’s frozen take-and-bake cookie dough, and we’re hoping to ship it all over the country soon. Stay tuned!

How can our readers support The Pastry Project and tune in for future happenings?

Follow us @thepastryproject_ on Instagram, sign up for our newsletter or become a pastry kit subscriber! Also, come visit us for ice cream this summer – we’re opening our soft serve window the first week of June.

Who are five local people or organizations you think every Seattleite should know about?

Laura Clise of Intentionalist

Melissa Miranda of Musang 

Chief Seattle Club

Lambert House

Northwest Harvest’s SODO Community Market