Chatting With Breugger’s Bagels Corporate Chef Philip Smith!

NEWS | | March 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm

While many of you may have grown up with bagels, I didn’t. Before you wonder what rock I was born under, let me make it easy for you: South Africa. So needless to say that when I arrived in the USA I made it my civic duty to eat as much of this amazing concoction as I could. Honestly it was easy since I am a total bread nut but I was surprised by the chewy nature. Admittedly the hardness of it left me disappointed until a fellow South African who came here a month before me (see how the early bird gets the worm and all that?) educated me that not all bagels were created equally, and that rule went for bagel makers too.

And then I fell in love. I thought the relationship was perfect but someone asked “toasted” and being the daring girl I was (I left to come to a country alone where I knew no-one so you can see I am not kidding) I said “yes”! The story almost ended (happily) right there but as I cashed up the lovely lady asked “Cream cheese?” and there is no prizes for guessing what I replied. Who says no to cream cheese? Well my hubby apparently does (the annoying health freak that he is), but the man does not like cheese or ketchup so he does not count along with the normal peeps.

Fast forward 12 years and you could almost call me a bagel connoisseur. I am fussy about the quality of my food and like my bagels made fresh. So when the kind folks (who I have worked together with and are one of my favorite brands who get and support social media) asked me if I wanted to meet their corporate chef I jumped at the chance. Of course it was vacation week for schools and I had a trip to the Boston Children’s Museum planned followed by a media event on a game truck (yes that is as cool as it sounds) with friends but I wiggled in some space for this event. Undaunted (ok I was slightly daunted) by the horrid weather coupled with the fight for decent parking I made my way to Melrose where the event was to be hosted.

I was about 5-10 minutes lates and while I was cussing as I walked with the rain messing up my brushed-today-for-a-change-hair I anticipated slipping into the back quietly with zero fanfare so as not to disturb the event. Well my hopes for that were dashed as I see someone in a chef jacket rush to me grabbing my arm and led me to an empty chair saying “Niri, we’re so happy you’re here!”. If you didn’t know better you may have confused me for  someone famous from that reaction. I settled in as quietly as I could muster hoping to focus but our “decorations” were bagels. How does a girl get a grip with that in the background?

Well, focus I did and I managed to learn a few things about Breugger’s Bagels:

  • They bake their bagels all day long, adjusting based on the crowd. So you get bagels as fresh as possible
  • They have their own branded cream cheese.
  • Their bagels are baked on BOTH sides
  • They invented the special slicer to make a bagel in 3 slices for the “skinny” bagel to cut out 1/3rd the calories. This way you can get any bagel as a skinny.
  • They work with as fresh ingredients as possible and work with local companies to source their accompanying products
  • Bruegger’s Bagels are only made from 5 ingredients? Salt, flour, water, yeast and barley malt. If you follow me online (or offline) you will know how important this is to me.
  • Do you know how bagels get that amazing crisp shell with soft chewy inside? Each bagel is kettle-boiled and baked in a stone hearth oven in small batches. Something we were fortunate to see in action.
While I wish they had gluten free options I appreciate their candor in admitting that bagels are their focus and gluten (for now) is part and parcel on that. While I did not get any confirmation or denial about GMOs I sensed that keeping it natural was an important thing for Chef Philip Smith as well (and I totally appreciate a brand not trying to spend time convincing me it is safe instead).
Also that bagel has a few incarnations and if you check out the Breugger’s Bagel recipes you will find ways to use (and eat) yours!
Disclosure: We were provided bagels and gift vouchers to take home!

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