While vacationing in New York City, Pete Linde took his wife, Janna, to his favorite kosher Jewish deli, 72nd Street Bagel on the Upper West Side. He wanted to introduce her to an authentic bagel oozing with whitefish salad.
“I was losing my mind it was so crazy good,” Janna Linde recalls, “and that’s when we came up with the name Meshuggah, which is ‘crazy’ in Yiddish.”
Tired of filling their suitcases with bagels to stash in the freezer and ration until their next trip to see Pete’s family, the couple decided it was time to fill a gaping hole in the local market with Meshuggah Bagels, Kansas City’s first certified-kosher bagel maker.
Bagels have always been a focal point in Pete Linde’s life: He’s Jewish, grew up in New Jersey and went to college in New York. For the last 27 years, he has worked as a mechanical engineer at the Ford plant in Claycomo. Janna Linde, who is not Jewish, spent the last decade working as a district sales manager for Del Monte.
From an industrial warehouse in Pleasant Valley, the Lindes started producing batches of garlic, sesame, poppy seed, onion and salt bagels for wholesale distribution last fall. On March 18, they are set to open a retail space at 1208 W. 39th St. The Wi-Fi cafe will sell bagels with Green Dirt Farm schmears paired with blends by Maps Coffee.
The recipe for bagels uses simple ingredients, but there is an art to getting what connoisseurs from New York to Tokyo refer to as the right “chew.”
Chew starts with the proper gluten content; Pete Linde experimented with nine types of flour before settling on King Arthur’s. Each 100-pound batch of dough is portioned into 4-ounce pieces, formed into a ring and gets a short proof in a cooler to keep the yeast in check.
Another crucial step is the boil, which keeps the starches in check. As the bagels float to the top of the kettle, they are scooped out, topped and placed face-down on wet burlap-covered cedar boards known as “bagel sticks.”
The moisture from the burlap produces steam when heated as the bagel sticks are slid on a paddle into the oven racks that rotate like a Ferris wheel. The bagels are flipped halfway through the process to ensure even baking on both sides.
The finished Meshuggah bagel fits in the palm of your hand. It’s dense and, yes, chewy, with a shiny crust and a fluffy interior. But, Janna Linde hastens to add, “We don’t have the traditional big hole.”
▪ Meshuggah Bagels, 816-330-6016, meshuggahbagels.com; retail space at 1208 W. 39th St. The bagels are certified kosher by Vaad HaKashruth of Kansas City.