Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com

Hatching Food Startups in East Harlem's La Marqueta

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    La Marqueta, the 77-year-old market owned by New York City, occupies a block of Park Avenue in East Harlem, beneath the Metro North Railroad tracks. In addition to food stalls, it houses HBK Incubates, a shared kitchen space that’s home to 32 nascent culinary ventures. The incubator offers cooks business training, advice, and low-cost access to professional equipment.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Jessamyn Rodriguez founded Hot Bread Kitchen, a nonprofit bakery that trains immigrant women as bakers, in Queens in 2008. Hot Bread moved its kitchen to La Marqueta in 2010 and runs a retail store in the market hall.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Hot Bread Kitchen shares retail space with other vendors in La Marqueta. Hot Bread’s bakery and incubator space occupy the back of the building.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Reyna Vera is one of Hot Bread’s 16 bakers-in-training. Another nine have graduated and work as managers. In addition to honing breadmaking skills under Ben Hershberger, the former head baker at Per Se, workers learn English and computer skills. “In most parts of the world, women are the bakers,” Rodriguez says. “They had skill and passion in baking, but they weren’t getting good jobs in the community.”

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Hot Bread’s 70 varieties of bread represent recipes from around the world.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Hot Bread started HBK Incubates in 2011. Among the 32 entrepreneurs who use the shared kitchen space is Hiyaw Gebreyohannes. He started Taste of Ethiopia to sell packaged Ethiopian dishes and breads and now sells to customers including Whole Foods (WFM), Dean & Deluca, and Fresh Direct. He is known as the “mayor” of the incubator.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    Fleur D’Oranger Miniature Patisseries makes French-style pastries such as madeleines and macarons in the the incubator space.

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    Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    GQ, La Marqueta’s general manager, wrestles with a (stuffed) bear on the sidewalk.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com
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    The city is looking to expand La Marqueta to make room for more food businesses.

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    Photograph by Felix Davey for Bloomberg Businessweek.com