Behind the Scenes at Hot Bread Kitchen

[Photographs: Laura Togut]

Hot Bread Kitchen is so much more than a bakery. This not-for-profit hires and trains low-income immigrant women in the fine art of baking, giving them valuable skills to help them achieve economic security.

And it helps that they make some great breads: bialys, stollen, chocolate bread, and m'smen, just to name a few.

We spent some time in the bakery to see what goes into making all those breads, and how Hot Bread manages a thriving business while fulfilling its goal of education. We found, first and foremost, that it's quite possibly the most diverse bakery you will ever find. They bake 35 different breads from eleven different countries, ranging from Jewish challah to German rye, Armenian lavash to Moroccan m'smen. The staff is as diverse as the breads they bake: the women at Hot Bread Kitchen currently range between 19 and 60 years of age and come from ten different countries.

Fatima Yaroud

The correlation is no coincidence; preserving multi-ethnic baking traditions is at the core of Hot Bread Kitchen's mission. Many of the breads are inspired or introduced by the staff, and in turn every woman at Hot Bread Kitchen gets the most comprehensive baking education one could ask for.

Exciting things have been happening at Hot Bread Kitchen as of late. It used to be that you could only buy their breads at one of their retail partners or farmers markets, but as of last summer Hot Bread Kitchen opened their first retail spaceHot Bread Almacen in East Harlem's La Marqueta. Now they're hoping to expand to other cities, spreading their good work and good bread to other communities.

While they are currently fueled in part by generous donations, they aim to be financially self-sustaining by next year.

Take a look at the slideshow for a peek behind the scenes at one of New York's most unique bakeries, and how some of their many, many delicious breads are made.

Hot Bread Kitchen

Storefront at La Marqueta, 1590 Park Avenue (map) Also available at various retailers and greenmarkets throughout NYC