Although they never left us, bagels are back, and for some, in a new and very interesting way. The craft bread movement maintains a profound influence on food culture in America from Kansas City (where local favorite Meshuggah Bagels is up to four locations in five years) to New York City — the city of food halls where a recent expansion inside historic Chelsea Market in Manhattan brings the groundbreaking debut of Black Seed Appetizing, a hybrid creation of Black Seed Bagels, which opened its first retail store in 2014.
Those fortunate enough to shop the artisan food purveyors of Chelsea Market recognize this gem as reminiscent of the great food halls of Lyon, France. Now this September, The Chelsea Local adds 12,000 square feet of retail space to the lower level of this renowned destination, where 6 million international visitors shop ever year, making it among the nation’s most trafficked food halls.
For Black Seed Bagels founders Matt Kliegman and Noah Bernamoff and executive chef Dianna Daoheung, the opportunity proved too beneficial to pass up. Black Seed Appetizing will open in fall 2019.
“We were thrilled to expand Black Seed’s repertoire when the opportunity arose to open in The Chelsea Local, which was created to be a specialty grocery market for locals by locals,” the founders say. “The Chelsea Local is located on the lower level of Chelsea Market, a renowned dining and shopping destination, and it's the perfect moment to stretch Black Seed's wings.”
It is notable to point out that Black Seed’s bagels are unique because they use proprietary dough developed internally more than five years ago. Chef Daoheung spearheaded creation of the recipe.
“While we certainly understand the desire to label our bagels — a departure from the puffier, large, hole-free bagels usually found in New York — as ‘Montreal style,’ they are, in fact, a unique hybrid equally inspired by both cities’ traditions and techniques,” the founders explain.
New York-style attributes and techniques used by Black Seed:
- Made from a naturally leavened “mother” dough with a longer fermentation time
- Salt included in the dough
- Interior texture is light and airy
Montreal-style attributes and techniques used by Black Seed:
- Seeded all over, formed in a discernible ring shape (with a hole in the center)
- Boiled in a kettle in a solution of water and honey
- Baked in a wood-fired oven (not an oven with rotating racks), during which the bagels are manually flipped and rotated
"The current popularity of bagels is an amazing thing, considering how long they have been around,” says Daoheung. “I think as more and more people understand the labor and love it takes to make a ‘true’ bagel, the growth will be even greater."
Breaking new ground
Black Seed Appetizing offers classic and signature bagel sandwiches, egg sandwiches, pizza bagels and monthly chef collaborations for which the specialty retailer has become known.
Some of Black Seed Appetizing’s offerings are items that have made limited-edition appearances on the Black Seed menu over the years, such as smoked bluefish spread, or as limited-edition cream cheeses created as part of an ongoing chef collaboration series. For example, black truffle cream cheese was inspired by their work with Eleven Madison Park, and lobster cream cheese with tarragon came about as a result of a partnership with Luke’s Lobster.
Offering bagel sandwiches and pizza bagels is a successful strategy – and yet a number of retail bakeries struggle with managing a bakery and foodservice under one roof. How does Black Seed Bagels make it work?
“Managing a bakery and foodservice under one roof is a difficult challenge,” Daoheung says. “Black Seed makes it work with hiring the right staff, purchasing great key ingredients, and offering classic items that you expect in a bagel shop mixed in with some unique ingredients.”
In addition to serving classic and signature bagel sandwiches, egg sandwiches, pizza bagels and monthly chef collaborations for which they have become known, Black Seed Appetizing's offerings will extend to purveying classic Jewish appetizing foods, including a variety of premium smoked fish for sale by the pound, prepared salads, gourmet cream cheeses, tinned fish, epicurean condiments and accoutrements, Stumptown coffee, Black Seed merchandise and more. The store layout will have larger cold cases, and seating for 16.
“As Black Seed has grown, we have developed substantial enough volume to form long-term partnerships with our own direct suppliers for ingredients we use most frequently, such as smoked salmon (smoked in the Catskills, using fresh fish that has never been frozen), cream cheese, and honey,” the founders say. “We’ll be working directly with Luke’s Lobster to source lobster meat for one of the new cream cheeses we’ll have at Black Seed Appetizing.
“Not only does this give us the ability to source the highest quality ingredients, it also allows us to support these smaller, often family-owned businesses that are so vital to the ecosystem of independently owned shops like Black Seed.”
Over the past several years, as Black Seed’s operation has grown, they sought to work closely with independently owned, local partners to source and produce the highest quality proprietary versions of their most frequently used ingredients, including honey from Negley Honey in upstate New York and King Arthur Flour high-gluten flour from Vermont.