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With its tantalizing, yeasty aromas and daily output of nearly 10,000 loaves and rolls, Hot Bread Kitchen might seem like any busy New York bakery. But there’s a satisfying twist: every worker is an immigrant or low-income woman getting on-the-job training and basic English-language instruction as part of her employment. “We’re trying to offer women a ladder in business,” says
Hot Bread Kitchen founder and CEO Jessamyn Rodriguez, who started HBK in a Brooklyn apartment in 2008.
The result is a delicious kind of social justice. Hailing from 19 countries, the bakers themselves inspire HBK’s recipes for lavash, focaccia, bialys, tortillas, challah, and more. Nearly all ingredients are local and organic. Outside of New York City, where they can be found at fine food purveyors, HBK’s goods are available at a handful of specialty shops up and down the East Coast. If you’re lucky you’ll find seating at the tiny storefront to HBK’s East Harlem headquarters, which sells fresh breads as well as cups of coffee. “Bread’s not only delicious, it’s a powerful symbol in many cultures,” Rodriguez says. “People also want to feel comforted by food. And there’s nothing more comforting than bread and butter.”
Visit Hot Bread Kitchen at 1590 Park Ave., inside Spanish Harlem’s historic La Marqueta.