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It's Not All About Coffee... With Shannen McKay


When you're back in the office, off the back of a long weekend, inspiration can be hard to find. In this light, we feel very lucky to see constant sources of inspiration in the people all around us! For the rest of this week, we will be celebrating the diversity of our team, and (more specifically) their commitment to excellence.

First on our list is Shannen Mackay — who lived a past life as a pastry chef. We chat about the similarities between coffee and pastry (Both addictive! #Amirite?! #Whaat?!) and also explore how the pursuit of excellence in one area brings excellence in another.

ROSETTA: Introduce yourself to us and tell us what you do at Rosetta / how long have you been working there?

SHANNEN: So my name is Shannen MacKay, and I've been with Rosetta since April last year. My boyfriend, CJ, is a roaster and (at the time, despite my ignorance when it came to speciality coffee) got me very excited about a little spot called 'ROSETTA ROASTERY'. It was here that I was first exposed to the world of coffee and the vastness of the industry. The roastery was at capacity at the time, but I was set on getting in eventually, so I started at the beginning.

After three months of interviews with Jono and Rob, in-depth training modules with Tim and behind the bar experience with the crew, I could proudly call myself a barista of Rosetta.

ROSETTA: What are some of the best things about being a part of the Rosetta team?

SHANNEN: The team is what makes ROSETTA. Working here isn't a job for just anyone. Here you have a group of people that are so passionate about the industry, who have a fantastic attitude and are confident in their ability and knowledge of their field.

The team is diverse and talented, so everyone brings something valuable to the table, so it's such a pleasure to be a part of Team of the Year! ;)

ROSETTA: We've been told that you have a past life as a pastry chef — working under Luke Dale Roberts (quite the multi-hyphenate we see) — how long have you were you doing that? How did it all start?

I went into chefing much like the coffee industry, with no experience but a lot of gusto to learn.

I started as a stage (a fancy French name for an intern), and after three months, they brought me onto the team. I worked my way up from 'stage' to 'demi' and eventually found my self as the chef de partie of pastry!

It was such a pleasure to work and learn with Luke and so many talented people for two years before I found my way to Jason's Bakery.

ROSETTA: Are there similarities between coffee and being a pastry chef? If so, what are they?

SHANNEN: Both behind the bar but more so in the roastery, an understanding of the dynamics of taste, flavour, and; how those things come to fruition are very important.

Principles like 'the Maillard reaction' and various kinds of heat application were concepts I was reasonably familiar with already.

Both appeal to my more creative side but provide a much-needed structure and discipline of an art form.

ROSETTA: Has the pursuit of excellence in one passion helped you to pursue excellence in another? And if so, how so?

SHANNEN: Most definitely! Having a transferable skill set that one can build on in various ways in a different field has just reaffirmed that idea that with the right attitude, continually striving to learn and be the best you can be, you can do anything.


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