Starrlight was created in 2021 as a micro-bakery based in Bushwick, Brooklyn with the goal of providing their local community with organic, sustainably made sourdough bread. After getting their start at local farmer’s markets and grocery stores, owner and founder Emanuel Ruffler set up a commercial bakery on the ground floor of his Bushwick home. The team at Starrlight has recently expanded the business to also serve naturally-leavened pizza through weekend pop-ups, and from there Starrlight Pizza was born!
Since its founding, Starrlight Pizza has been grounded in community and sustainability (they are 100% solar powered thanks to their partnership with Queens Community Solar 1)! This ethos made partnering with Hot Bread Kitchen a no-brainer. Emanuel first heard about our culinary training program through our community partners at GrowNYC, and soon after volunteered at mock interviews. There, Starrlight Pizza founder Emanuel met Hot Bread Kitchen member Bry. They immediately connected over a mutual passion for community, food justice, and sustainability. Now, Bry is employed at Starrlight and has become a crucial member of the team. We spoke to both Emanuel and Bry about Starrlight Pizza, Hot Bread Kitchen, and the importance of community and food.
“We thought it would be great to have a partnering organization that is already connected to qualified people who are looking for work. It is great to know that someone went to Hot Bread Kitchen for 5 weeks and they are reliable and willing to show up.”Emanuel Ruffler, Founder of Starrlight Pizza
For Starrlight Pizza, a main factor that led them to hire with Hot Bread Kitchen was trust. After visiting our space and participating in mock interviews, Emanuel felt confident that Hot Bread Kitchen would provide trustworthy, reliable employees. Our current alumni at Starrlight Pizza have proven this ten times over!
The reciprocal relationship is not only beneficial for our members, but also helps provide a sense of stability for Starrlight as they continue to grow their business. Emanuel shared, “Working with the Hot Bread Kitchen alum has been amazing. The ramp of the business becomes so much easier knowing I can go to [Hot Bread Kitchen] to find the right person. It enhances what we can do.” At Hot Bread Kitchen, we aim to holistically support small businesses, whether it be through employer partnerships, our Quality Jobs Initiative, or our HBK Incubates program.
Originally from a Filipino family in LA, Bry (they/them) came to Hot Bread Kitchen looking for a different career path that would provide better pay and stability in their life. “I was looking for a way to change my career path without putting a pause on making money or putting a pause on my life in general,” Bry explained, “So I went to a career fair and found out about Hot Bread Kitchen, and I loved that it was an opportunity to get paid while learning a new skill.” Although initially nervous about coming into training without any prior culinary knowledge, Bry quickly learned that what mattered most was the effort and passion they were willing to put into their learning. “What I realized at Hot Bread Kitchen is that if I just came in everyday with a good attitude and ready to do some work and ready to learn… it will all work out.”
“I felt 110% prepared going into [the job at Starrlight]. Because Hot Bread Kitchen didn’t just teach me knife skills and things like that—all of which I use for the pizza kitchen—but I also learned a lot about kitchen etiquette and what chefs are looking for. What I realized at Hot Bread Kitchen is that if I just came in everyday with a good attitude and ready to do some work and ready to learn… it will all work out. And that also worked out here at Starrlight.”Bry, Hot Bread Kitchen member
Bry came into culinary training with a goal of landing a job at a small, local business. They said, “What made me interested in a career in the culinary industry was the idea of making personal connections with people through food, so I knew I wanted to work with a small business.” When they learned about the job opportunity at Starrlight, they knew it would be the perfect fit. In their new role, they’ve not only expanded their culinary skills, but have had the opportunity to learn and work on other aspects of running a food business, such as copy editing the website and menu, and helping to put together promotional flyers.
The culinary industry has so many options for different career paths, and for our members, Hot Bread Kitchen is the first step towards opening up those possibilities. Our employer partners are a key ingredient in providing career options and economic mobility to our members that align with their goals and aspirations.
Find Starrlight Pizza’s sourdough loaves at the RiseBoro Farmers Market on Saturday’s at Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. Order their bread for delivery through Farm to People, or order pizza for pick-up and delivery on weekends at starrlightpizza.square.site