Several years ago, Jotam Torres, a manager at Zaleski & Horvath MarketCafe in Kenwood, heard his bosses talking about how they couldn’t find a good bagel on the South Side. Torres’s wife, Chelsey, had attended the French Pastry School after getting laid off as a credit analyst. Jotam told the bagel-bereft Z & H owners his wife’s grandma makes amazing bagels.
“There was no recipe, and she had never made a bagel in her life,” Jotam says. They started learning how to make bagels that very night. Not long afterward, they brought in a half-dozen bagels to Z & H, and they sold. Thus began a life lived in bagels.
Breakfast-forwarding several years, the Torreses have just opened The Bagelers Coffeehouse (2461 N. Lincoln Ave., 872-802-0347). They supply the café from their own wholesale business in Griffith, Indiana, where the bagels and croissants—another specialty—proof for days. The wholesale business delivers about 3,500 bagels and 2,100 croissants a week to Goddess & Grocer, the Langham Hotel, Metropolis Coffee Company, Ipsento, and other locations.
The bagels, which the Torreses call Chicago-style, boil for a few minutes to set the crust, as New York–style bagels do. The Bagelers’ bagel dough also contains the add-ons normally found only on top, such as the garlic, onion, and seeds in an everything bagel.
Impressive how these bagels have risen in just a few short years. Given their genesis from a fib—and the slang usage of “bagel” to mean “zero”—they have really made something out of nothing.