I am a changemaker in the world of business, food and immigration. In 2007, I founded Hot Bread Kitchen, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of foreign-born women and their families. Struck by the disproportionate amount of impoverished immigrant women in the labor force, I sought to rectify this market failure. Immigrant women possess rich culinary history, however, they are often trapped in the informal sector. My idea was to help these women capitalize on their existing skill in order to improve their household wealth and jumpstart their professional careers. I created Hot Bread Kitchen, to offer paid culinary job training and small business support to foreign-born women with passion in the culinary arts and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The business model of HBK is based on sustainability. In order to reach this goal, we sell a line of breads inspired by the countries of origins of our bakers. Women working with us bring recipes for bread which we then produce and sell in over 40 retailers. The money from the sale of breads goes to fund our training programs, allowing women to, in effect fund their own training. By allowing women to shape our product line and contribute to their own professional development we empower our bakers and educate consumers about immigrant communities.
I was first inspired to launch Hot Bread Kitchen after visiting a community oven in Toronto. A small brick oven in the center of a community park, I have a deep connection to this place. There I watched women of all different races, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds bond over the communal practices of baking and bread.
I passionately want to see a world where immigrant women and their families are not disproportionately relegated to a life of poverty. Through the training programs of Hot Bread Kitchen women learn the skills necessary to land management track positions and become leaders of the culinary industry. By empowering immigrant women, I hope to build a world where immigrant communities as a whole are given equal opportunity in the business world and revered for their contributions to society.
Prior to launching Hot Bread Kitchen, Jessamyn Waldman spent 10 years working in NGOs, government, and in the United Nations on human rights and immigration issues. She has worked in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bosnia, Guatemala and Chile where she studied for a year. Most recently, Jessamyn worked on the start-up and implementation of a NYC middle and high school where she supervised a staff of 30 teachers, wrote curriculum, raised funds, and administered a $4,000,000 budget. Waldman has an MPA from Columbia University and Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of British Columbia and is a holder of Master Baker certificate from the New School University. She apprenticed at Chef Daniel Boulud’s renowned Restaurant Daniel and was the first woman to be hired in the bakery. She was awarded a 2007 Eileen Fisher Grant for Women Entrepreneurs and is an Echoing Green Fellow for 2008.