Just as Hot Bread Kitchen is celebrating 10 Years of Impact, graduate Beatriz Rosales Lopez is also celebrating an anniversary milestone of her own: 10 years of living in the United States. When Beatriz came to New York from a small town in Guanacaste, Costa Rica in early 2010, she simply wanted to make sure her young children would adjust well in their new home. Now, she’s dreaming big.
Coming from a close-knit community in Costa Rica to live in Manhattan, city life was a dramatic change. “I feel more comfortable now being in the city. I feel that I’m starting to adapt. I can move around more, I can work, ” Beatriz reflects.
Beatriz learned about Hot Bread Kitchen’s Culinary Training program through the West Side Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH), an organization dedicated to alleviating hunger throughout New York City. At first, Beatriz volunteered in the food pantry at WSCAH, learning both customer service and the operational aspects of receiving. Noticing Beatriz’s interest in the culinary arts, the Culinary Coordinator at WSCAH encouraged Beatriz to apply to Hot Bread Kitchen’s 4-week culinary training program so that she could strengthen her skills. “I liked to cook, but I never had experience working in the kitchen,” Beatriz remembers. Beatriz was excited to learn that she could find work in the culinary field. In September 2018, Beatriz was accepted into Hot Bread Kitchen’s culinary training and job placement program.
During the training, Beatriz and her classmates learned everything from basic knife cuts to baking techniques, but her favorite lessons were on making doughs for breads, pizzas, and pastries. While Beatriz came to Hot Bread Kitchen with a drive to learn culinary skills, she was impressed by the wraparound support services incorporated into the curriculum. “Every skill that Hot Bread Kitchen gives us in the class is really amazing. Aside from kitchen skills, they taught us how to run our lives. It’s a really great place to start and continue.” Throughout the 4 weeks of culinary training, women in the program can be found baking biscuits and braising chicken in the morning and then going on mock interviews in the afternoon.
Since graduating in March 2019, Beatriz is now working full time as a baker at Princi at Starbucks Reserve Roastery, a Hot Bread Kitchen hiring partner. “I learn every day. I didn’t used to bake much but now I’m a baker. My hard work, my ethic, I am so proud of myself and my job,” Beatriz says proudly. At Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Beatriz produces the assortment of artisan breads available on the lunch menu. There’s seasonal pizzas, focaccias for sandwiches and fresh European style pastries from the Italian bakery Princi. While Beatriz’s favorite item to bake and eat is focaccia (“it’s really fun to cook!” she says), it’s her team, in Starbucks lingo, “partners,” that makes her the most fulfilled at work. “My favorite part of my job is the partners, they make [it] easy. I love to bake, it’s exciting. They know that I’m still learning,” Beatriz says. In the next few years, she wants to work her way up to becoming a sous chef. Starbucks Reserve Roastery is supportive of her career goals, offering her daily opportunities to learn more technical skills from fermentation to computer skills.
Reflecting on her 10 years of living in the United States, Beatriz is proud of all that she has been able to accomplish. Now that Beatriz is settled in her new job, she is focusing on the future with plans to become a sous chef and one day open up her own restaurant serving Costa Rican food. When she first immigrated to New York City, Beatriz was hesitant to work because wanted to take care of her children. Now that they are in school, Beatriz is motivated to keep working to support them and the dreams that they have. “If we’re here I want to make it count, I want to make sense here. My country, I didn’t want to leave. But we are here so we have to make it count. So that’s what I’m doing for my kids, I’m pushing them.”
Hot Bread Kitchen creates economic opportunity through careers in food. For more information, visit hotbreadkitchen.org.