To Sacha Jeffay, Montreal bagels are greater than a round piece of bread with a gap within the center — they’re a type of connection. A connection she needs to deliver to the U.Okay.
“I feel bagels are a lot extra in Montreal than only a meals, and anybody from there’ll know they’re a part of the entire social material of town,” stated Jeffay, 64, who was born in Montreal and has lived within the U.Okay. since she was 20.
“My mission is absolutely to attach folks to meals and what meals means socially.”
And so in July of 2020, Jeffay opened Montreal Fashion Bagels, a bakery in Dartington, within the southwest of U.Okay., close to Plymouth.
She needed to create an immersive expertise like in Montreal, the place clients can watch bakers roll, boil and prepare dinner the bagels. In Montreal, folks additionally come collectively for bagel brunches, so Jeffay determined to share this expertise by internet hosting her personal bagel brunches on the bakery.
Not like Montreal or New York, Nice Britain doesn’t actually have a status for bagels. Most individuals within the U.Okay. affiliate bagels with those accessible on the grocery store, which Jeffay stated are generally described as dense and dry.
Jacqueline Minton, a Dartington native, agrees.
“I imply, shopping for it in a retailer right here is totally not value it,” Minton stated. “It’s like shopping for sawdust, isn’t it?”
Jeffay stated many individuals who come into her bakery inform her that they don’t like bagels. However after she encourages them to strive one, they usually take pleasure in it.
“It’s form of like a mission to re-educate the U.Okay. about what a bagel actually, actually is,” stated Jeffay.
Recreating a basic
Jeffay’s journey to recreate the bagel of her youth began 4 years in the past, when she realized she needed to do one thing life-affirming.
Seeing because the well-known recipe for the bagels made at St-Viateur Bagel, certainly one of Montreal’s longest-running retailers, is assumed to be a household secret, Jeffay went off of reminiscence. The recipe required plenty of trial and error.
When she first began promoting her bagels, she labored out of a home kitchen. Ultimately, she was churning 600 to 1,000 bagels per week, a quantity that compelled her to decide on between shutting down and increasing. That’s when she discovered the house at Dartington Property to open her store.
London has its personal historical past of bagel-making, famously offered on Brick Lane. However Jeffay believes she’s the primary to deliver the style of Montreal to this a part of the U.Okay.
Bagels have been initially delivered to North America from Poland by Jewish immigrants. Hyman Seligman reportedly baked them first in Montreal round 1919. A debate nonetheless swirls about what constitutes a real Montreal-style bagel.
Not like the London or New York variations, the Montreal bagel has egg within the dough, which makes it richer however with a lightweight chewiness, Jeffay stated.
It’s historically boiled in honeyed water within the wood-fired oven to provide it its golden brown color and gentle sweetness. However since Jeffay doesn’t have the setup for a wood-fired oven, she boils hers in malt, which nonetheless offers her bagels the basic brown hue.
One factor she received’t compromise on is what she says is a Montreal custom since 1900: “They’ll at all times be hand-rolled. They’re at all times handmade.”
Dartington native Clare Horncy not too long ago tried a Montreal-style bagel for the primary time.
“I’ve simply had what was the lightest, most moist bagel,” stated Horncy. “I feel whether or not that’s as a result of it’s a Montreal-style bagel, I don’t know. I’ve not been to Montreal, however it was pleasant.”
Jeffay stated her clients embody Canadian expats who heard about her store and drove in from out of city.
“Once I was working from my cottage [in Totnes], which was very fairly distant, you realize, not even straightforward to search out, I might get folks coming to the door and discover folks wandering round, getting out of their automobiles and saying, ‘The place are the bagels?’” stated Jeffay. “They discovered me on Google Maps.”
Jeffay has linked with different bakers by social media who’re making Montreal bagels in different components of the world, going so far as New Zealand.
The bagel connection
Jeffay left Montreal at 20 to check drama remedy in England. That was greater than 4 a long time in the past, and he or she stated she has by no means interacted with as many Canadians as she has since opening the bakery.
Throughout COVID-19 restrictions, she linked with plenty of Canadians dwelling within the U.Okay. by Fb. On condition that many individuals have been remoted, Jeffay needed to provide them a style to remind them of house.
“I feel meals and flavours are so evocative for folks,” stated Jeffay.
She was delivery bagels throughout the U.Okay. when she discovered folks have been having bagel brunches over Zoom with household again in Canada.
Jeffay’s bakery continues to facilitate that French-Canadian connection. In truth, she has seen expat Montrealers are available in and open FaceTime or WhatsApp to excitedly present their household again in Montreal that they discovered just a little style of house.
“It simply means a lot to me to see that emblem up there and to have that title,” stated Jeffay, referring to her store signal, “and I feel, at this stage in my life, to reconnect with my roots and reconnect with house.”