We are beyond thrilled to welcome Dianna Daoheung to the Hot Bread Kitchen team as Entrepreneur in Residence. If you’re a fan of high-quality bagels in NYC, you might recognize her as the Co-Founder and former Executive Chef of the wildly successful Black Seed Bagels, where she was a two-time finalist for the James Beard “Outstanding Baker” award, and a longtime Hot Bread Kitchen hiring partner. At Hot Bread Kitchen, Dianna oversees our food entrepreneurship program, including Prep for Success, a 4-week free online course that teaches the fundamentals of how to start a food business in NYC.
What brought you to Hot Bread Kitchen?
Hot Bread Kitchen’s mission speaks to me on many levels—as a first generation American, I see the reflection of my family in Hot Bread Kitchen’s members. Secondly, as a food entrepreneur, I can truly speak about the struggles and benefits of the industry. I wanted to take my experiences and share that knowledge with others so they can feel the pride of owning their own food business.
What excites me the most about Hot Bread Kitchen is the industry and individuals we are working with. The food and hospitality industry is often a welcoming entry point for many immigrants and women of color. Knowing we are providing the right tools, education and support not only helps the individuals but helps the food industry as a whole.
How have your past experiences at Black Seed Bagels informed your work today?
My past experiences as Chef & Co-founder at Black Seed Bagels has given me the deep understanding of what it takes to have a thriving and growing food business in New York City. Having led a team of 120+ employees, 24 hour operations, and 8 locations has armed me with the entrepreneurial spirit it takes to succeed.
What advice do you have for small food business owners in NYC?
My advice for small business owners in NYC is do the “homework,” utilize resources, and be adaptable. We are fortunate enough to live in a city that has a vast network of small business organizations that are eager and ready to help, just like Hot Bread Kitchen. Adaptability should always be a key trait if you are wanting to own any kind of business—the road of entrepreneurship has many twists and turns that you have to be ready for.
Tell us about Prep for Success. Why is this kind of program important for entrepreneurs, particularly entrepreneurs from immigrant communities or people of color?
Prep for Success is a 4-week free online course that teaches the fundamentals of how to start a food business in NYC. The program provides the necessary education taught by true professionals that our members may not typically have the financial resources to access. By the end of the program members will understand marketing, legal positioning, storytelling, and financials for their business—key to success in our industry.
What makes you optimistic about the food industry?
Being in the food industry for over 20 years, the one thing that has always kept me optimistic is the community. The food and hospitality community is full of compassionate and hard working individuals that are often the first responders in any crisis. Over these past few years I have really experienced the strength and love this community has provided in the hardest times.
Dianna was raised as a first-generation Thai-American and gained her initial skills and love of cooking by being “forced” to help her mother prepare authentic Thai foods growing up. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, she moved to New York and spent five years in advertising and branding. Finding less satisfaction in branding than she did in cooking, Dianna decided to follow her instincts back to the kitchen, studying at the French Culinary Institute. She worked in a variety of kitchens in San Francisco and NYC, from traditional Jewish delis to award winning Michelin Star establishments, before joining Black Seed Bagels in 2014.
As Executive Chef and Co-Founder, Dianna perfected the recipe and the process behind the now wildly successful Black Seed Bagels, developing the shop’s unique honey-boiled, wood-fired bagels, and expanding offerings. She also oversaw employee culture and recruiting, working with Hot Bread Kitchen as a hiring partner. Black Seed Bagels currently has 8 locations and is continuing to grow.
Dianna is a two-time finalist for the James Beard “Outstanding Baker” award (in 2018 and 2017) and has been featured in the New York Times, Food and Wine Magazine, Vice Munchies, Cherry Bombe, The Splendid Table, and Forbes, among others. Dianna currently lives in Queens with her husband and two loving cats, Fred & Cosmo.