Encouraged by her mother to pursue her passion for cooking, lifelong New Yorker Kisha joined Hot Bread Kitchen in early 2023, her first foray into culinary education. In our signature program, she received hands-on training that covered basic culinary and pastry techniques, food safety, and other kitchen fundamentals.
Kisha first applied to Hot Bread Kitchen in 2020, but wasn’t able to attend because she was taking care of a sick parent. Her determination paid off—she applied again in 2022 and joined the culinary fundamentals program in January 2023.
Where most Culinary Fundamentals members head straight into the culinary workforce, Kisha was eager to continue her education and prepare for a career in restaurants. She decided to join First Course NYC, a restaurant training program run in collaboration by the NYC Department of Small Business and Hot Bread Kitchen. Kisha became the first Hot Bread Kitchen member to participate in both culinary training programs. Now, Kisha is in her paid on-the-job apprenticeship training with a restaurant partner in Manhattan, and is working towards her ultimate goal of opening up her own cafe.
At Hot Bread Kitchen, we deliver customized career development, job placement and food entrepreneurship programs designed for income generation and long-term economic mobility throughout our members’ career journeys. Our programs center each member’s unique needs and strengths, meeting breadwinners wherever they are. For Kisha, this meant getting as much as she could out of both our Culinary Fundamentals and First Course NYC programs.
For Kisha, joining First Course gave her the opportunity to build on the skills she learned in Culinary Fundamentals and continue to pursue a culinary education. She explained how both programs together have helped her succeed in her apprenticeship. “The first program summed up a lot of the basic fundamental stuff, and then I got to take my culinary education a step further with First Course… [The apprenticeship] has been really cool, and I’ve definitely been using all the skills I learned in both programs while on the job.” Kisha recalls learning how to prepare mirepoix and pizza dough during culinary training, both of which she makes on the daily in apprenticeship.
Community at Hot Bread Kitchen also played a big role in Kisha’s experience here. For her, this is a key component to succeeding in any environment. She explained, “I think it is really important to have support from your surroundings, especially if you’re going through something outside of the program. Some people were really vocal about what they were dealing with, and it was really important to be supportive of each other in those moments.” Kisha was also connected to mental health support and tax prep services through the Hot Bread Kitchen team.
Kisha was also able to find that sense of community and support from Chef Diamond, who taught both programs that she participated in. “Everything I learned from Chef Diamond really stuck with me. Sometimes you get a teacher who is just a teacher, but sometimes you get a teacher that really cares. And it’s just great to see someone from my community in a position like that, because it helps you see that you can do that one day too.”
As a queer member of Hot Bread Kitchen, Kisha also brought her lesbian identity to the kitchen and built community with other members of the cohort. She says she’s excited to see more representation in the culinary field. “Just to see more people like us in every building you walk into, every restaurant and kitchen—to see that we’re all queer folks even though we all identify a little differently than each other. Just to see people like us doing their thing and showing off their skills, you know, becoming more successful in many different businesses, that’s really what I want to see.”
“I knew I wanted to open up my own cafe one day, so [completing both programs] seemed like the perfect opportunity to educate myself more.” – Kisha, Hot Bread Kitchen member
Having experience with other workforce training programs, Kisha found the structured schedule and goal-oriented nature of Hot Bread Kitchen’s program extremely valuable. “Being able to join programs like Hot Bread Kitchens gives people an escape, it creates stability and gives you the opportunity to focus on a skill and learn new things.”
With the training she received in these programs, Kisha is now thriving in her on-the-job apprenticeship and gaining valuable hands-on experience that will help her towards her goal of owning and operating her own cafe.