Monday, January 24, 2011

    I Know Bagels

    Growing up in Chicago, near Wrigley Field, you could say that I first learned about bagels by osmosis. We rarely went out to eat...everything was homemade, including bread and pizza from scratch. My mom, Belle, instilled in us a love of food and baking even more - her specialty. Now both are part of my DNA.
    Jay Glass at SPoT Bagel
    in Seattle, 1990
    Every Friday night was bagel night. My mom served bagels from the neighborhood shop with lox or smoked whitefish as part of our weekly "non-meat" dinner. And of course, the most important Jewish events in our community featured "the tray," overflowing with bagels and various toppings. Whether grieving while sitting shiva or celebrating a new birth at a bris, when everyone was together, we ate bagels - the Jewish soul food.
     In 1990, my bagel education picked up steam. While deciding whether to start a bagel bakery, I traveled all over the US seeking the advice of sage bagel bakers. I sought out great bagels made in cities with big Jewish populations, where people know good bagels from bad. I spent countless hours talking with bagel makers in New York, Chicago, Vancouver (Montreal-style bagels), and Los Angeles, seeking an understanding of why their bagels were best. I took their veteran advice to heart when I started SPoT Bagel Bakery in Seattle, which became Seattle's #1 most-loved bagel. We proudly made artisan bagels with creative flavors that revolutionized the bagel industry.

    These days, when I think back to how much love and skill my mom put into our homemade meals, I am grateful and realize how much I've matured from the kid that wanted to eat out because he didn't know better. Now I truly know what kind of food I want to eat: local and organic ingredients à la Alice Waters, prepared thoughtfully à la slow food, and with innovative flavors à la Humphry Slocombe.

    ― Jay Glass