Q: How did you get started?

A: I’m originally from New Jersey, and when you move away from New Jersey there are a few things you miss.… One of them is bagels.

I searched and searched for bagels. Nothing was quite right, so I tried to make them myself. I worked at a bagel store in town, I managed a bagel store in town, got some experience there.

Q: What are the qualities of the perfect bagel?

A: Sort of a crispness to it, to the outside. A heaviness to it. You need some type of heft to it, some weight. It’s not an airy product. And it’s got sort of a malty flavor because there is malt in it.

Q: How long did it take you to perfect the bagel?

A: I don’t like to say this is the perfect bagel for everybody. It’s my perfect bagel. There are many other options out there and this is just the alternative. And I like it and a lot of my friends like it. It took maybe one to two years of really fiddling around with different recipes.

Q: When did you start your business?

A: It’s been probably six years in its very formative stages. So far, every year, it’s kind of taken a bigger step, a bigger step, a bigger step. And now we’re in the biggest step at this point.

Q: What’s going on now?

A: We’ve kind of expanded from the kitchen – my kitchen – into my garage. And I’ve sort of made that into a sort of production facility.

Q: Is it very high tech?

A: No, no, no, no. It’s very basic. Really you don’t need a whole lot to make bagels. You need a pot of boiling water, a hot oven. And that’s pretty much it. A table to roll them out and a mixer to mix the dough.

Q: How many bagels are you making on any given day?

A: I could go up to probably 12 dozen.… It all depends. I get orders from customers, private clients of mine that call me and want bagels for the weekends or whatever. I can deliver them. I deliver to two cafes in town.

Q: Do you ultimately want to make a lot more than you are now? Or is this about right?

A: It’s right for now. It’s baby steps. I can probably take on a few more cafes. And I don’t want it to get too crazy big right now, but I’m open to wherever it takes me.

Q: Are you a purist when it comes to bagels?

A: The simpler, the better, has always kind of been my motto, my mantra.… There are four or five ingredients in a plain bagel that I make.

Q: Are you pretty open about what you do with a bagel?

A: The concept really is you can make your own bagel if you want to. You don’t have to go into a bagel shop and choose from what they have. You can tell me you want a cinnamon-raisin bagel with garlic on top. Hey, you’ve got it the next day and you get it delivered to your house. Who am I to say what’s good and what’s bad? People come up with some really great combinations. We had one that was a plain bagel with caraway seeds inside and salt on top. However that sounds to you, it tastes amazing.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: A typical day is like: 4 in the morning, wake up, start the oven and get the water boiling. Usually I’m done with bagels 6, 6:15 and out delivering by 6:30. I promise my private clients that I’ll get them their bagels by 7 a.m. They’ll be hanging on their door by 7 a.m. And I deliver to my cafes usually between 6:30 and 7. Then I come back and it’s basically start your bagels in the morning for the next day and have them in the refrigerator all day and all night. It’s called retarding.

Q: Retarding? What does that do?

A: It gives the dough a chance to rise and interact, kind of intensifies the flavor of the dough.

Q: Is there a lot of physical work involved?

A: It’s not as labor intensive as kneading bread or anything like that. But once you roll 150 bagels, it kind of gets to you.

Q: People interested in your bagels shouldn’t be stopping by your place, right?

A: No. I’m not zoned for that. If people are interested in my bagels, they can call me or go to my website. Or you can go to PeRx-U-Up Cafe (in the InterMed building on Marginal Way in Portland) or to Portland Square Cafe (in the basement of One Portland Square).

Q: Do you still eat bagels or have you had enough?

A: I still eat them. … One a day is probably my limit.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]