The Jew And The Carrot

Welcome To New York's Bagel Boot Camp

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share
courtesy of Jesse Blonder

Bucharest was once home to 100,000 Jews. Today, there are only 4,000 Jews and no bagels to be found. But that’s about to change.

The saga starts with a pair of twentysomething Romanian entrepreneurs, Alexandru Petrescu and Ioan Rusu, who were seeking a novel menu item to launch their Bucharest food truck.

Online research led them to bagels. In September, the pair got on a plane to New York City, the putative bagel capital of the world (sorry, Montreal). After touring bagel bakeries across the five boroughs, Petrescu and Rusu wanted to learn the ins and outs of bagel-making.

They called on Brooklyn’s Center for Kosher Culinary Arts and Lynn Kutner, a master baker who teaches a course called Jewish Baking Classics.

“They looked us up online, and said they were looking for a place to learn about bagel-making,” Jesse Blonder, the Center’s founder and managing director, told the Forward. “They looked at culinary schools and a few people who do private lessons. Between the fact that we’re kosher and that bagels are associated with Jewish food, they chose us.”

And Bagel Boot Camp was born. Petrescu and Rusu “had some general knowledge about bagels, but their practical skills were at a basic general level,” Blonder said. “But they did their homework. They’d tasted bagels, and they knew what kind of product they wanted. They’re not chefs or professional bakers. They’re entrepreneurs.”

The $750 class began with a four-hour workshop with Kutner and Blonder, and “we stuck around another hour just talking,” Blonder said. “I was very curious myself. I wanted to know what they planned to do, what kind of business they wanted to open, what they felt the market for this was. They said nobody knows what bagels are there.”

With the pair set to launch their food truck in a corporate park in central Bucharest, “they wanted to have a signature item that would distinguish them and be easy to market. The image of bagel, associated with New York, was how they’d brand themselves.”

So what are the basics of a great bagel? “It all starts with what kind of flour you use,” Blonder said. “We use a high-gluten King Arthur brand flour. Lynn prefers it; she says it gives bagels the characteristic chew.” After mixing the flour and water, dough gets “proofed” — leavened — Blonder said to let it rise. The dough is then rolled and shaped, proofed again, then boiled, seeded, and baked.

The pupils learned well, Blonder said. “We baked dozens and dozens of bagels, and they were all great because they did what we showed them,” Blonder joked.

Still, Blonder said, “I’m curious to know how the product comes out, especially because everyone says New York bagels and pizza are so good in New York because of the water. Given the fact that their water’s much different, I’d love to taste it and see. Failing that, I’d love to see pictures. And, of course, I’d love to hear how their business goes.”

Petrescu and Rusu, alas, did not return requests for comment.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: bucharest, bagels, bagel book camp

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.