Exclusive: Artisan Bagel Baking in New York

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A hands-on group activity takes a deep dive into the history and
culture of the iconic bagel for an only-in-New York experience.

There’s good reason why traditional New York bagels are famous, with the perfect combination of chewy insides and crusty outsides found nowhere else. Now, groups meeting in New York can get doughy at Artisan Hands-On Bagel Baking Classes in an authentic, fun team-building and tasting experience. We recently caught up with Sam Silverman, known as New York’s “Bagel Ambassador,” to get the skinny on this unique Big Apple experience. Silverman founded his company BagelUp in 2017 with the vision to produce New York City’s first ever BagelFest, “which quickly became the leading global trade and consumer event for the bagel industry,” he says. “Building on our deep industry connections and insider knowledge, we expanded our offerings to include NYC Bagel Tours  in January 2022, and the Artisan Hands-on Bagel Baking Class in May 2023. These new ventures leverage our access to top bagel artisans and provide private group experiences that are authentically New York.”

Prevue: What is the class capacity and location?
Silverman:
Our classes can accommodate up to 50 participants for the most interactive experience and up to 100 for a mixer where bagel making is available (instead of the main focus). These classes are held at Bagel Market, located at 264 W 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan. The classes are typically led by Reva Castillenti, an award-winning baker known for her expertise in traditional bagel making, and myself.

Prevue: Please describe the class details and baking techniques.
Silverman: 
Participants learn to make classic New York-style bagels. We use a plain bagel dough, and participants choose their own toppings, like everything, sesame, poppy and other traditional flavors. The “artisan” aspect comes from using traditional techniques like hand-rolling (instead of hole-poking, the technique 99% of online tutorials teach), boiling before baking and using a high-gluten flour for the distinctive chewy texture. The fresh bagels are served with a variety of spreads and smoked fish, beer and wine, with additional hors d’oeuvres and cocktail offerings available as add-ons. Each class lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours. We offer class variations, including a more condensed and budget-friendly class focusing just on the basics, as well as  a class to make eye-catching, Instagram-worthy sensations.

Prevue: How does the class foster team building?
Silverman:
Our classes encourage team building through engaging, hands-on bagel-making activities that necessitate communication and cooperation. Participants pair up to roll and prepare bagels, engaging in tasks like boiling and applying toppings together. The narrative of the bagel’s history and its unlikely rise to fame as an iconic New York City food is woven through the experience, enhancing their appreciation and connection. The class concludes with a fun quiz that adds a competitive twist. We also share our exclusive bagel recipe, allowing attendees to use their new skills at home, further extending the value of the experience.

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