Family businesses are hard. Family food businesses that have lasted four generations, like the New York appetizing emporium Russ & Daughters, are practically unicorns. So, when I had a chance to have Niki Russ Federman and Joshua Russ Tupper on Special Sauce, I jumped at it.
Ed Levine first met Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez eight years ago, when he happened upon her and her mother selling handmade tortillas at a tiny farmers market in West Harlem. Even back then, he could tell that Jessamyn was a force to be reckoned with. She embraces her life's work with equal parts humanity, passion, and focus.
In recent years, Jessamyn's nonprofit and bakery, Hot Bread Kitchen, has been preserving baking traditions from around the world by hiring immigrant women to make the breads of their home countries in the organization's headquarters in Manhattan. Along the way, Hot Bread Kitchen has essentially become a wildly successful job-training program for the thousands of women who have passed through its doors. It's an awe-inspiring operation, and when you listen to this episode of Special Sauce, you'll understand that it takes a force of nature like Jessamyn Rodriguez to undertake this kind of initiative.
This week's Special Sauce guest, bread baker extraordinaire Jim Lahey, is a man of strong opinions, provocative ideas, and many talents. He's not on the fence about anything. So I figured that if we just gave Jim a mike and let him rip, serious eaters would be in for a treat. It turned out I was right.
You'll hear about how Jim came to bread baking after suffering through 37 bad jobs; how he started his baking business by setting up a folding table in New York's Greenwich Village after baking all night in his barely habitable apartment; and how he happened upon his revolutionary no-knead bread recipe by accident. This year, he was inducted into the JBF's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. So take a listen to this no-holds-barred episode of Special Sauce—at the very least, you shouldn't miss the great baker's Bernie Sanders impression.