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Changing the Gender Dynamics of the Culinary Industry, One Loaf at a Time

Did you know an estimated ten percent of Executive Chefs in the U.S. are women?

Did you know an estimated ten percent of Executive Chefs in the U.S. are women? Hot Bread Kitchen's stated mission is to leverage the buying power of the food industry to create professional opportunities for low-income immigrant women. While that is true, our secret agenda is to change the gender dynamic of the culinary industry and get more women in the kitchen. To help advance our secret agenda, we launched the Women Bake Bread Scholarship program on Crowdrise.

In 2008, I began Hot Bread Kitchen out of my home as a baking job training program for immigrant women. As a former United Nations policy analyst, I had travelled the world researching migration patterns, while eating my way through each countries' local dishes. Everywhere I travelled, I saw women standing over stoves and communal ovens, women cooking for their families and feeding their communities.

Upon my return to New York, my appetite for these regional dishes didn't fade, but my ability to find them did. When I ate in local restaurants, it was always men in the kitchen. Where were the women? Did they forego their culinary heritage and skill upon immigrating to the U.S.? I realized that the answer to these questions was no, but they were instead selling food in the street or cooking in people's homes.

Accessing formal, living-wage positions in food manufacturing often eluded immigrant women because of their unfamiliarity with the English language, lack of formal training, or the absence of professional networks. As a result, immigrant women are the most vulnerable sector of the labor force, paid less than native women or foreign-born men and often abused in the workplace. Hot Bread Kitchen overcomes these barriers to entry by providing paid, on-the-job baking and English fluency training, coupled with job training services. By placing women in management-track positions in the food industry, we are helping them to build economic security for their families—but job placements are also part of our master plan. By placing and promoting immigrant women in leadership positions in the food industry, we are undoubtedly shifting the traditionally male-dominated nature of the business of food in the United States.

Support our now not-so-secret agenda by donating to the Women Bake Bread Scholarship program. Each week, we will release new prizes, like secret supper clubs and private cookie baking classes to help incentivize donors. Our goal is to raise $100,000 by October 30, 2013 so we definitely need the support of the GOOD community to give a damn, donate, and spread the word.

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