by Laura Kussman
Spiced apple with chocolate and pumpkin cream filled doughnuts. Cardamom buns. Buckwheat tahini chocolate cookies. Savory brioche tarts with leek, chevre and kabocha squash. Salted caramel pie. Hot chocolate with house-made marshmallow.
All of the ingredients for these wood-fired pastries are sourced locally by Seabird Bakeshop creator Brea Currey from neighborhood farm stands, eggs from neighborhood chickens and flour from Fairhaven Mills in Burlington.
“I have to drive every week and hunt for eggs in all the spots, which is fun,” Currey shared, seated in Luna’s coffee window on North Beach Road behind mounds of her creations.
Since September, Seabird Bakeshop has been thriving on Orcas Island where chefs are thinking creatively about how to bridge food and entrepreneurism during the time of coronavirus.
Thriving, too, with a little support from the law of attraction.
“My mom used to listen to ‘The Secret’ book on tape when I was a kid. I totally grew up with awareness of the whole manifestation thing,” Currey says. “Every time I tell my mom what I’m doing now she’s like, ‘you manifested it!’ It sounds silly, but it’s real.”
After working in Portland, Oregon as a pastry chef for Irving Street Kitchen, Departure at the Nines Hotel and the french-inspired Frice Pastry shop, Currey says she always thought of working at Hogstone. She and her husband Matt met at the Oregon Culinary Institute. One day, she saw Hogstone was hiring. Currey applied, was staged and hired. That was two years ago.
“That had always been our dream life — I would work at Hogstone, we’d move to Orcas and Matt would work on a farm — how quaint! Matt found a work-trade on Morningstar Farm and we realized we were doing that thing we always said we would do.”
Currey says COVID-19 brought a reduction to her hours at Hogstone, so she started strategizing ways to offer a Community Supported Bakery which she says quickly became a labor of love. Currey has loved baking since she was seven years old.
“I thought, ‘I’ll start selling pastries out of the back of my car!’ It took off a lot faster than I expected it to. Then it started raining a lot, so Shauna and I talked about selling here at Luna’s coffee window. It was another moment of wow, this is manifestation. When you want a thing and you put it out there, it’ll happen. Especially here on Orcas,” she said. “A lot of what I’m doing is really influenced by working at Hogstone because they’re so locally driven. I’ve worked at restaurants where everything we get is frozen or canned or some sort of pre-packaged puree. Working with product like that sucks. Here on Orcas, everything is amazing.”
Currey says her pastries have sold out every week except one. She donated the leftover treats from that day to the Orcas Island Food Bank.
Thus far, Currey’s success is, among other things, a testament to the power of baking as a 2020 survival strategy on Washington’s farm-to-table captivated island.
“I love doing this. It’s something I actually care about. Everything that I do, I think, ‘oh I love this little cardamom bun! This little pie, too.’ They’re all special to me.”
Starting in February 2021, Seabird Bakeshop will be open in Luna’s coffee window on Saturday’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brea is offering pastry/cookie boxes for sale for the holidays, learn more on Instagram or Facebook at @seabirdbakeshop.