This Larchmont Chef Shares His Secret for Making Great Bagels

Matthew Karp on his foray into bagel-making, his favorite bagel memories, and more.

Chef Matthew Karp, of Plates Catering and the former eponymous Larchmont restaurant, offers menus inspired by his travels with his wife Wendy; a collection of plates hang on the walls as markers of each destination.

Adding homemade bagels to his repertoire however was not a result of a trip to Mattoon, IL — dubbed the Bagel Capital of the World by Lender’s Bagels (it’s home to the world’s largest bagel factory) — or to Manhattan, which many would argue is the true Bagel Capital.  


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WM: What was the catalyst to start making your own bagels?

Matthew Karp: Years ago I tried to make them but I didn’t like the results. But over the years I’ve gotten the bread/baked goods that we do in-house at Plates down so I felt confident to give it another go. Plus I’m always looking for new challenge.


WM: I hear you have your own sourdough starter to get the bagel process in motion?

MK: Yes, it’s just flour and water but it took a month to get it going. You have to feed it, so to speak, every day. Like the character Seymour feeding Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.


WM: What’s the key to making bagels?

MK: Besides a good starter, you have to experiment to get the right amount of leavening. It’s easy to make the mistake of bagels that are too puffy and over-risen. Also they have to be boiled — mine go for about 30 seconds on each side before going into the oven for 15-20 minutes. Bagels are not just bread with a hole in the middle!

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WM: Where is your all-time favorite bagel from?

MK: No question, H&H Bagels in the city. They have the right amount of puffiness and chew and just a hint of sweetness, which comes from an important bagel ingredient: barley maple syrup or powder.


WM: Any bagel shops in Westchester you want to give a shout-out to?

MK: Quaker Ridge Bagels (Now Bake Ridge Bagels) in New Rochelle and Village Square in Larchmont.


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WM: Do you have any bagel memories from when you where a child?

MK: There’s nothing better when breaking fast at the end Jewish holidays with bagels and smoked sable and lox and whitefish salad.



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