Master baker David Bernstein says he is part of a lost breed.
With 60 years experience, he joined the Artisan Baking Center in Long Island City, created last year to train the next generation.
“What we do is everything is scratch and everything is handmade, even the dough that we put through the machines,” Bernstein said. “Which you saw is still handmade. That's the artisan bread.”
The center started classes a week after September 11, funded by the Consortium for Workers Education, the employment agency helping thousands of workers displaced by the terror attacks.
More than 500 people are getting a chance at a new role, making higher end breads and pastries. Rebecca Lurie heads the center, which offers not just free courses but direct help with job placement.
“Their eligibility really has to do with if they are laid off recently,” Lurie said. “So anybody laid off due to 9/11 is eligible. If they're looking for work for any reason, they become eligible for our services.”
Aspiring computer programmer Laura Pierce was supposed to have started work at the World Trade Center last summer, but the job was delayed because of cutbacks. Then the attack came.
“These guys were really great, I learned a lot,” Pierce said. “I've learned to work with many different kind of flours, how to put things together, and hopefully I could get a job working in a bakery and doing my own designs and things like that. I like to see people eat, get fat.”
Peggy Moore was laid off after 17 years in the advertising business. Now she too sees baking as her new career, thanks to the classes at the center.
“I feel gratitude, and it's like an extraordinary thing that this exists,” Moore said, “and there are people like myself that are either out of work or having hard financial difficulties that can take advantage of something that's not only gratifying kind of work but actually can make a living doing it.
The students aren't the only ones who are feeling good about their work.
“It's very gratifying,” Bernstein said. “They're very good students. They all are willing and capable of learning, they're motivated. As you can see, everybody jumps in. And they're doing quite well and hopefully we'll find jobs for them.”
So, for filling a need, and filling our appetites, the staff of the Artisan Baking Center are NY1's New Yorkers of the Week.
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