Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bruegger's Bagels 30th Anniversary

On Tuesday evening, I went to Bruegger's Bagels in Melrose to help celebrate the national chain's 30th anniversary. As part of the celebration, myself and a small group of bloggers had the privilege of learning all about Bruegger's, straight from their executive chef, Philip Smith, himself.

We learned a lot about Bruegger's this evening - and even got a tour of the Melrose walk-in freezer and kitchen - so I am going to sum up the main takeaways that I learned from Chef Philip for you.

#1: The coffee.

Bruegger's coffee is made from a wide variety of high-grown Arabica beans, handpicked and roasted to smooth deliciousness. I tried the French Toast flavor at this event, and was pleasantly surprised at it's obvious maple flavor, without being overly sweet.

#2: The bagels.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bruegger Bites.

Bruegger's bagels are made in-house at all of their 300 locations across the United States. Made with just five ingredients - flour, water, malt, yeast, and salt - these bagels are only served fresh. Since they don't contain any preservatives, they don't last very long (a Bruegger's bagel can get stale in just 3-4 hours).

So, what does Bruegger's do with any leftover, stale bagels? They do sell them in "day old" packages for a discount, but they also suggest recipes for those hardening bagels. Chef Philip shared one of his recipes with us bloggers on Tuesday night: a decadent Smoked Salmon and Dill Strata, containing his signature plain bagels, Chive and Onion Cream Cheese, and Bruegger's smoked salmon.

#3: The bakers.

Bakers like this one stick their hands in 400 degree ovens all day, every day to ensure you have fresh bagels:

Bruegger's in-house bakers are hand-selected and trained in the Bruegger's artisan style. Each bagel is kettle-boiled and baked in a stone hearth oven in small batches. As a result, the bagels have a crisp shell and soft, chewy center.

#4: Executive Chef Philip Smith.

Chef Philip has been with Bruegger's for 11 years, and it's obvious he is passionate about his bagels. Philip is constantly testing and developing new recipes, including everything from salads and sandwiches, to soups and new cream cheese flavors. He takes his ingredients seriously, too: everything from the sesame seeds on his bagels to the raisins and cinnamon in his cinnamon raisin bagels (his recipe ensures you get a plump raisin in every bite), it's clear that this guy cares about what you're eating at his restaurants.

#5: The cream cheese.

Bruegger's direct set cream cheese comes exclusively from Franklin Foods in Vermont (the same state where Bruegger's is headquartered), and is made with pure, fresh milk and real ingredients. ("Direct set" means they use natural organic acids to "directly" set the cheese). For example, Chef Philip explained that his Garden Veggie is made with all fresh vegetables and no preservatives so you get a crispy veggie in every bite. Each year, Bruegger's sells more than 2 1/2 million pounds of its cream cheese.

In addition to bagels and cream cheese, Bruegger's also sells a variety of salads and sandwiches (guests can make up their own of either, too), as well as soups.

Although I was impressed overall with Bruegger's dedication to fresh, quality food, I was more pleased with how the company gives back. In addition to simply not being wasteful (for instance, they cut their bagels into thirds for their Skinny Bagels, and save the middle slices for samples), the company also donates to their communities. Across the nation, Bruegger's works with their customers to support local non-profits in their communities, and they support local children's hospitals across the U.S. through local and national fundraisers throughout the year (including Boston Children's Hospital). Pretty neat, right?

As a bonus, it was also great to meet a few new (to me) bloggers, and to also catch up with some familiar faces, like Lisa. I also finally got to meet Sues from We are not Martha, after many months/years of tweeting and reading each other's blogs!

For a company that started in a garage, I'd say Bruegger's has come a long way over 30 years. I also love how they never "sold out." They really stayed true to what they're good at it, which is bagels. Chef Philip also never found it necessary to meet the demand by packing his products with long-lasting preservatives. That alone is admirable, and will make me a customer for as long as I love bagels (in other words, for life).

Have you ever been to Bruegger's before? If so, what's your favorite thing to order? Personally, I love the Rosemary Olive Oil bagel with Garden Veggie cream cheese!


  1. Great write-up! It was so nice seeing you again Michelle! : )

    1. Thank you. Same to you, Lisa!!

  2. I worked at a Bruegger's one summer during high school. They even tried to train me to bake the bagels... but I was afraid of those ovens. True story.

    1. I don't blame you. That was one intimidating (and very hot) oven!

  3. can't remember the last time i was at a brueggers, but those rosemary olive oil bites sound divine!!

  4. Mmmm Breuggers! This is making me want to plan for a bagel for tomorrow's breakfast!

  5. What a great event. The rosemary bites look adorable and tasty. They sell those? We have a Bruegger's down the street and stop in for bagels some weekends.

    1. Hey Megan! They do sell them, but you have to ask for them. They suggest calling ahead if you have a large order, too.

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  7. It was SO great to meet you!! The French Toast Coffee is definitely one of my all-time faves!


  8. I was so bummed I couldn't make it up to Melrose for this night with Bruegger's. I begged them to set up an event at their downtown location. Everything looks so delicious, especially those rosemary bagel bites!