Adam Richman’s Take on NYC’s Bagels & Lox || Food/Groups


– You know, I used to make fun of my aunt, when she invites us to her house, us as a family, you
have to place your like, bagel order, like, weeks in advance. And then, I remember,
my mom was disconsolate, ’cause my cousin Blake… Blake, I love you, but you [omitted] up
for my mom that year. I had to hear about it the whole way home. Why’d you eat Mom’s pumpernickel? It was your mom who
said to place the order! He ate the pumpernickel. Thanks, [omitted], I
love you, but thank you, but [ommitted] you, but thank you. (electronic music) – We traveled all over
the country on this season of Food/Groups, but now
that we’re back home in New York City, we’ve got
a confession to make. See, like all New Yorkers —
natives, transplants, whatever — we love bagels. We love ’em so much in
fact, that we did an episode about ’em last season. But honestly, we didn’t quite go deep enough. We didn’t capture the
essence of this city’s bagel identity. So we’re calling a do-over. Food/Groups, New York
City bagels, take two! Schmear we go. I think it works, right? People’ll get it, it’s funny. No? Hmm. (electronic music) New York didn’t invent bagels. Most scholars agree they arrived here thanks to Eastern European immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. So, why are they such a defining part of New York City’s food life? To kick off our bigger, better
New York City bagel tour, we met with Ben Wagenberg,
a native New Yorker who’s made ’em a defining part of his life as a certified bagel tour guide. – I was born right near
here on 16th Street. I grew up in Stuyvesant Town, so it just turns out that
I stayed here in Manhattan. (upbeat music) – I run Ben’s Bagel Tours. I’ve been doing it for
about four or five years. And I called it Ben’s Bagel Tours basically because one, it
gets a smile on your face, two, it’s an iconic symbol of New York, and three, everybody who
starts one of my tours get a fresh bagel. – Thank you very much. – There you go.
– Excellent. – This is from Tompkins Square Bagel, which is right up the block. And it’s one of the better
bagels that you find in New York. (upbeat music) – Let’s talk a little
bit about bagel history here in New York. – It really came when
you had the immigration of Eastern European Jews, especially those from Poland. They had bagels and
they were easy to make. It’s a way for people to make business. When it became more and
more commercialized, yes, you did have a union. There was the bagel bakers union. What killed them all, so to speak, was when Murray Lender invented
his process to freeze bagels. And it then became
easier for people to buy, it became more generic. One thing that’s also a
part of the bagel tradition is smoked salmon. Lox.
– Why is that? Do you know why? Or when exactly the lox became a part of the bagel tradition? – Well, that’s one time
where you’ll have to Yom Kippur after fasting 24 hours. That’s true, a lot of
people would eat that or people would eat that in the morning. Or especially on a
Saturday or Sunday morning. And then, again, when
the food like the bagel became more specialized,
so did smoked salmon. – Yeah. – It became more not just
for a small group of people. It became more accepted and more desired. – Is there anywhere in New
York that does it still? – Oh, absolutely. If you wanna see how they actually make smoked fish you wanna go to ACME Smoked Fish. (upbeat music) – People have been smoking fish for, well, as long as they had fire and salt really. At ACME Smoked Fish, though, they’ve been doing it
for over a hundred years. We headed across the Williamsburg Bridge to meet Adam Caslow, co-CEO
and fourth-generation owner for a look at what makes lox such a beloved New York bagel topper. (upbeat music) – Nova, lox, trout, sable,
herring, kippered salmon, pickled lox, jerky, poke, you name it. Oh my gosh, whitefish, how
could I forget about whitefish? (laughing) (upbeat music) My family started in
the smoked fish business about over a hundred years ago. My great grandfather, Harry Brownstein, he had a horse-drawn wagon
that he would take around to smokehouses throughout Brooklyn. He would bring smoked fish to
different appetizing shops. His dream was to open up his
own smokehouse called ACME. The most common smoked salmon
is a cold-smoked salmon, otherwise known as nova, or lox, or… I’m sure there’s
some other “bubby” names (laughing) that exist out there. And you can either wet
cure or dry cure fish. It’s then brined for several days depending on the size of fish. Then put into the oven for smoking. We use a fruitwood wood chip blend. That plate will burn those chips and the smoke is injected into that oven. After that, the fish
is packaged and shipped to your local bagel store or
deli for fine consumption. – When I mention it to my friends who aren’t from New York,
they’re kinda, “well, that sounds a little weird man.” Why do you think that lox
and bagels and lox and schmear have become more of a New York thing? – I think in the same way
that the deli business, a pastrami sandwich maybe
was once a Jewish icon. Bagels have the same
egalitarian notion to them. What would New York be
without a hotdog cart? And I think the same can be
true about bagels and lox. (upbeat music) I don’t know that I’m
necessarily saving the world by making smoked fish,
but I certainly hope we’re bringing a little bit of joy. Because food is what fuels this city. Besides coffee, I guess.
– And anxiety. – And anxiety, right.
(laughing) Right. (birds chirping) – Do you have a favorite New York bagel? How do New Yorkers decide on what their favorite bagel shop is? – I grew up with a
place called Ess-a-Bagel. But when people ask me on my tours where is the best bagel? I will tell them I won’t
answer the question because every New Yorker has
their own favorite bagel. A lot of times it’s ones
in the neighborhood, whether it’s because it’s just nearby or you appreciate the taste. (upbeat music) – We’re in Brooklyn, New York. I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been a Jew for about 43 years, and I’ve eaten bagels for
nearly that entire time. As long as I’ve had teeth. (laughing) And even maybe before I
might’ve gummed a few. Sort of lovingly gnawed. But in a very Semitic way. (laughing) (upbeat music) – If he’s not in Brooklyn, his home town, Adam Richman could be
pretty much anywhere. The culinary traveler, author, and TV host is known best for his
shows like ‘Secret Eats’ and ‘Man vs. Food’ that have him
eating all over the world. But when he’s not filming, he still calls Brooklyn home. (upbeat music) – I grew up in kinda the
Gravesend area of Brooklyn. Homecrest between T and U. I moved to Canarsie
to the projects with my mom, and then now,
I live not far from here. Growing up I have vivid
memories of eating bagels and watching ball games with my dad. Or they used to show kung
fu movies in New York on the weekends. Three Stooges. And Yoo-hoo and bagels, man. I don’t know why. There’s something about seeing the knots and seeing the actual twist of dough, and seeing that kind of craftsmanship. (upbeat music) So this is tofu scallion and whitefish, onion and tomato on a toasted everything. Good for what ails ya. So here, I’ll… with you on this. – Cheers. – Cheers to you. (upbeat music) – Yeah, that whitefish is almost smokey. They have like a really nice, but fishy. Do you have early memories of this? – I do indeed. I remember being a little kid, one of my first errands
was going to get the bagels for Sunday morning, or Saturday morning. And my dad gave me a list. And he wrote out the order. And it was not terribly far from my house, so it was like one of those errands that as a parent he could
feel safe sending me on. But for me as a kid, it was
one of the first times, like, I had my list. I had my cash. It was one of those great
feelings of responsibility. And they smelled so good, and they were, my dad and I both knew
this place baked their own. And they would be warm. And you could kinda like feel
them kinda give in the bag and kinda crunch in the bag. And then you have this ice
cold bag of lox spread, and whitefish salad. And being able to ring the bell. And like everyone’s excited, smells good. And when you’re all there and Dad always got the
sharp serrated knife to cut them all. And it’s just, it’s almost
that big sort of family smorgasbord thing. (upbeat music) This is my stepmom’s combo. Lox spread, tomato,
onion on toasted sesame. After you break your fast on Yom Kippur, traditionally it’s a kind of dairy meal. And for Jews, dairy includes fish. Go figure (laughs). I’ve always felt that
food, any given food, any given dish, kind of
exists on a continuum. When you reinterpret that dish, it becomes part of a continuum. And it becomes part of your story. (upbeat music) People don’t realize
the history of the bagel and how it encompasses so may countries. An it encompasses such a remarkable story of how it got here. At some point it stops becoming like the Jewish food as opposed to, it’s what New York eats in the morning. The bagel’s as much a part of New York as your metro card, man. (upbeat music) – Maybe that’s why New Yorkers identify so deeply with bagels. Not because they were invented
here (which they weren’t), and not because they’re
delicious (which they are). But because in a constantly changing city of 8.5 million strangers you can’t trust, it’s nice to be able to trust the bagel. It’s how New York east breakfast. Sorta like… – The bacon, egg, and cheese,
salt, pepper, ketchup. New York style. – The bagel is just a classic and sorta beautiful in its simplicity. Like the bacon, egg, and cheese. You can get it at diners, you can get it at a fancy restaurant. But to me, buttered kaiser roll, runny egg, American
cheese, plain old bacon, fries and a Coke, hangover cure. And just like that I feel better and I feel that I’ve just
somehow worked my way into your bacon, egg, and cheese episode. (laughing) So, I’ll see you guys next episode. Hi everybody, I’m Adam Richmman,
still talking about food. (upbeat music) – Huh. Bacon, egg, and cheese. Maybe someone should look into that.

  1. The Kirby T

    I love a bagel. I mean, I REALLY love a bagel. But nothing beats a BEC on a roll from a corner bodega. It may be the perfect breakfast sandwich.

  2. Peanut Turner

    I like bagels but living in the UK and only ever having had the pre-packaged (likely frozen/defrosted) ones, I doubt I've ever had a really good one, like a fresh out of the oven (pot?) one, but I'd like to.

  3. Club Astro Transcendental Motor

    Sausage, Egg and Cheese slightly buttered on an Egg Bagel. Staple of my life since my childhood. From Morningside Heights to the Villages and back uptown to Yorkville, gotta have my breakfast bagel sandwich. No substitutes.

  4. G Mail

    Adam Richman is the man. I ran into him in Baltimore in a little clothing boutique a couple years ago and he was a really nice guy. He stopped to talk to us and take pictures and everything and wasn't in any rush to get away. I know entertainers aren't obligated to, at all, but the fact that he did makes him that much cooler in my mind.

  5. FDSeoul

    Finally a food program that doesn't accredit the Bagel to the Jews for once. All the idiots think the Jews invented the bagel just because the love eating it. Thank you for getting the history correct for once.

  6. Eric Arem

    Great Video. Miss Adam on Man vs Food. Great to see him still enjoying talking about food… and eating it!! I also love a great bagel w/ lox. I thoroughly enjoyed your video!! Think I'm gonna have to get an everything bagel w/ lox in the morning while I'm here in NYC. 🙂

  7. alfie piper

    wanna see adam so some audio books man. for a guy with such a monotone voice he manages to make a story about a bagel run into something bloody interesting. mans gifted

  8. Brandon Rothenberg

    This guy doing the interviewing is so fucking stupid.
    “Is there anywhere in New York that does it still?”

    I woulda slapped the mustache right off his damn face.

  9. Charlotte DiMarcantonio

    Loved this video! And someone being from New York this video is so nostalgic for me and people from all cultures not just Jewish love the bagels and the lox! I’ve grown up on bagels and lox and wouldn’t change it!

  10. Anas Ibn dawood

    I don’t know how those people do it. I had a bagel with cream cheese and lox and I felt like I was 300lbs and as if I ate a bag of cement . And wayyy too much salt. Bacteria .Same thing with Katz and there pastrami sandwich , disease poison , wayyy too much meat. Maybe that’s why there faces are swollen

  11. jonathan munro

    I love Jersey bagels. Wykoff or Hohokus. Sesame and raisin. Also as an Australian, fresh hot bagels with butter and Vegemite is to die for.

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