Bagel obsession becomes a career opportunity

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Baker Mikyla Okuyama samples her bagel creations outside the site of the new bagel shop Toasted on Don St, Invercargill this week. Photo: Petrina Wright

HER passion for bagels has turned into a dream career opportunity for home-baker Mikyla Okuyama.

Mrs Okuyama has been hired as the baker for Toasted, a new bagel shop opening on the ground floor of the Don St business house in Invercargill later this month. (May)

Although not a professionally trained baker, Mrs Okuyama’s obvious passion for bagels and knowledge of the food secured her her dream job.

“I am borderline obsessed with bagels, so I think that is what sold it,” she said.

She was now perfecting her recipe ahead of the opening, priding herself on producing bagels in the traditional New York style, complete with obligatory hole in the middle, hard crust and chewy texture.

The bagels would be hand rolled rather than made using a machine, boiled rather than steamed and made using barley malt rather than sugar, she said.

She was also creating a range of cream cheese flavours to accompany the bagels.

“The goal is to produce the best bagel New Zealanders have seen… that people will come here just to try them.

“New Yorkers claim you cannot make a real bagel outside of New York, but I plan to prove them wrong.”

Plain, cheese, sesame, and the everything bagel were among a range of bagels which would be on offer, as well as hawker rolls (Malaysian street food), made-to-order sandwiches and Hummingbird Coffee.

Toasted owner Judy McNeilly, of The Auction House said the bagel shop would complement her restaurant.

The idea was to make more use of The Auction House’s north-facing courtyard and take some of the pressure off the restaurant, she said.

Toasted would be more takeaway focussed, she said, but customers would be welcome to sit in the courtyard or inside The Auction House.

The business was expected to employ a staff of about eight.

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