By marrying their individual cultures and years of baking experience in kitchens from New York City to Seattle, Keely and Miguel Silva-Glenn are bringing an eclectic mix of specialty pastries from around the world to Spokane.
The couple met eight years ago while working at a bakery in NYC and launched the Collection Bakery in summer 2020 after COVID-19 forced them both out of Seattle's hospitality industry and to Spokane, Keely's hometown.
The Collection's current pastry lineup ranges from seasonal fruit tarts to traditional Mexican chocolate tortes and from layered Ukrainian honey cakes to babka — a sweet bread of Jewish origins. Each of these treats have a connection to the couple in some form. Miguel Silva-Glenn is from Mexico City, while Keely's family has roots in Ukraine. Other influences in their pastries come from the couples' past jobs in Italian, American and Latin restaurant kitchens, as well as the Israeli bakery where they met.
"We were lucky that my family lives here, and so we decided to move back to Spokane," says Keely Silva-Glenn. "We got here and were looking for jobs, and nothing was open at the time. We had time to reflect and knew we wanted to start a business at some point."
Rather than open a full-service cafe (their long-term goal) in the middle of the pandemic, Miguel, 30, says the couple decided to start out with online-only sales. They're currently baking by night in a rented downtown kitchen and offering pastries for pickup and delivery, as well as through wholesale accounts for My Fresh Basket, Huckleberry's Market and Main Market Co-op. The pastries are also sold at Meeting House Cafe in South Perry, and the couple are happy to take custom orders.
"A big part of our business plan is how do we get through COVID," says Keely, 27. "Not having a storefront gives us flexibility and a low overhead, and doing online ordering and targeting wholesale has helped us survive through this."
Online ordering runs from noon Monday to noon Thursday. Only a set amount of each pastry is available each week, meaning popular items tend to quickly sell out. Deliveries are available (free for orders above $15; otherwise a $4 fee applies) to addresses in Spokane and Spokane Valley, while pickup takes place Saturdays from 10 to 11 am, currently at the former Carr Sales Co. building at 919 W. First Ave., which is owned by Keely's family.
With the Collection's ever-growing menu, its owners hope to educate customers on the culinary and cultural significance, as well as historical origins, of each item.
"It's really important to share the history of the dishes," Keely says. "Sometimes people consume without knowledge, and there's so much joy in that; but food is powerful, and sharing that cultural significance is a big part of our plan."
Miguel's recipe for Mexican chocolate torte, for example, features traditionally spiced Mexican chocolate with cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg. It's one of the Collection's best sellers.
Coming soon to the menu is a ginger key lime tart, which has origins in Black communities, Keely says. Even though it's not a dish from either her or Miguel's respective cultures, they're sharing the dessert and its origins from a place of respect so as to create awareness of the ongoing appropriation of Black food and culture. Ten percent of proceeds from that item are being donated to Black Lives Matter.
The Collection is also partnering with guest chefs interested in sharing their culinary heritage with the community. The first such collaboration is with Keely's stepmother, Mila Glenn, who came to the U.S. from Dubno, Ukraine, in 2019. Two flavors of honey cakes on the Collection's current menu feature her recipe.
"We want to be able to expand the menu with dishes outside of our culinary and cultural backgrounds," she says.
Heading into spring, customers can expect to see several savory breads added to the menu, like focaccia and baguettes, as well as a sweet hibiscus-glazed kouign-amann, a rich pastry of French origin consisting of dough laminated with butter and sugar.
For Valentine's Day (part of the Feb. 8 menu), options include a French entremet cake, chocolate truffle boxes and a chocolate "salami," which is a sweet truffle filled with biscuit crumbles and nuts resembling salami that's popular in Europe.
Besides introducing locals to a host of specialty baked goods from around the world, the Silva-Glenns are eager to create an environmentally and socially conscious business by sourcing from sustainable local farms and offering a healthy, positive workplace for future employees.
"We've worked in the industry for so long that, for us, we want to make sure we grow with an environment that is inclusive and has fair wages," Keely says. ♦
The Collection Bakery • Order online for pickup or delivery at thecollectionbakery.com • 862-7083