NORTH BENNINGTON – Homemade sourdough bagels in Bennington? Yes, please!
That seems to be the overwhelming response to a new home bakery making its mark in North Bennington, bringing hand-rolled Boston-style sourdough bagels to Vermont.
Steven DeTeso, 33, and partner Lauren Carifio, 30, started Bennington Bagel Company out of their home last summer, baking their loaves in a home oven in small batches and filling orders from their kitchen window.
“I mean, they’re delicious, they’re crowd pleasers, and I feel like most people are into bagels,” DeTeso said as he weighed the prepared dough on a small scale and slid it over Carifio, who hit the center. and worked the newly formed bagel into a ring around her finger.
“We were both just thinking, what can we do with these loaves that we were making?” said Carifio. “I think I said, ‘Let’s make bagels.'”
The couple, who met in Boston, started baking for themselves shortly after moving to North Bennington last summer.
“This was a Saturday tradition growing up,” Carifio said. “We would go to Katz Bagels in Chelsea or Bagel World in Redding every Saturday. It was a big part of our lives. We started baking them for ourselves when we moved in together and they were so good. Something about bagels, they were very consistent, just like when we were growing up.”
The couple started giving it to friends and family and getting great feedback. At that moment they saw an opportunity.
“There wasn’t a place in Bennington to get a freshly baked, manufactured bagel,” DeTeso said. “We couldn’t get good bread anywhere around here, and we thought other people might love bagels like we do.”
The couple had a bumpy road to North Bennington. Carifio moved here in 2020, living in the Northeast Kingdom with a romantic partner. The relationship didn’t work out, but she soon realized she loved Vermont. She returned to Boston for work, but was soon looking for a place to live in Vermont.
“Steven was a bartender in Boston, a place I’ve been to for years and years,” Carifio said. “It’s funny because we both worked for 10 years in Burlington, Mass., but we didn’t cross paths until I met him at that bar.”
The couple began dating after they met, but the lure of Vermont was strong. Carifio, who had an acquaintance in the Bennington area, bought a home in North Bennington. “It was just a random spot on the map for me,” she said. “I’ve never been here before.”
DeTeso, for his part, made the three-hour trip over 60 times to visit her that year. They officially moved in together last June. Carifio, who works full-time in an electrical and solar supply business, works in the bagel business part-time. DeTeso now works in the home kitchen full time.
“I wanted to be done with the restaurant industry, but I had a lot of experience working for very good people who taught me a lot,” DeTeso said. “I’ve always wanted to own a business, so I thought this might be the perfect time. We were thinking, wait, there’s an opportunity here for us to do our own thing, right? Make an impact.”
The couple wanted to start small and build the business from the ground up, using their home kitchen to create bagels with a residential oven so they wouldn’t have to invest so much in it. They both said they don’t expect to be a home-based business for long. The plan is that, in the spring or summer, they will make their bagels in a storefront.
“We want a place where people can come to get breakfast sandwiches, bagels, coffee, somewhere close to home with commercial amenities,” DeTeso said.
The sourdough starter used in the bagels is 15 years old, with a yeast origin that gives it its character. According to DeTeso, the startup has made thousands of loaves over the past 15 years, from Boston to Vermont. All premium ingredients used in their bagels are locally sourced, including King Arthur flour.
“People have loved it so far,” DeTeso said. “They’ve been raving about it, telling us it’s the best bagel they’ve ever had. It’s surprising to hear, but we’ve heard it at least 10 times.”
The Bennington Bagel Company has a limited selection of bagels right now, including plain, sesame, and everything. They just started testing a wild blueberry bagel and have plans for a Vermont cheddar, jalapeno cheddar and poppy seed bagels. They even make their own cream cheeses, including a vegan cream cheese.
Sourdough bagels are made with wild-fermented sourdough yeast, the same way bread has been made for thousands of years before the modern era. No additional yeast or gluten is added to the simple basic ingredients inside the bagels, such as flour, salt and water. There is ample evidence that baked goods using sourdough benefit gut health. Many claim that sourdoughs can be eaten by those who are sensitive to gluten. Additional ingredients such as sesame seeds, natural onions and garlic are added as toppings. Locally sourced honey is also added to the bath where the bagels sit before baking, giving them the signature “chew” of a real sourdough bagel.
The Bennington Bagel Company is fully licensed and inspected as a home-based business. People can place an online order for Saturday pickup from 9 a.m. to noon, from their kitchen window. They are also growing their wholesale business, with bagels available at Powers Market every Friday and Angry Egg 2 on Main Street in Bennington using their bagels in meal prep. They also hope to stock their bagels in country and general stores throughout the area.
“We are very excited to engage with the community,” DeTeso said. “I think we’re both pretty community-focused people. It’s nice to be in a smaller community than the one we come from. We just hope to be good neighbors and have a positive impact on the people around us. Everyone enjoys bagels.”
You can purchase bagels by going to benningtonbagelcompany.com, or by emailing [email protected] or on their Facebook page.