Motivate yourself with the #CatererMotivator! Who's inspiring us this week? Uncle Bagel!
Uncle Bagel

#CatererMotivator: Who's behind Uncle Bagel?

Having worked as a self-development consultant for many years, Thomas spent many years helping clients realise specific life goals; when around three years ago, he decided to apply the skills honed in his role to his own career. Whilst taking some time out of work to ponder his next move, Thomas spent many an hour baking and found the process both therapeutic and rewarding -  after all, who doesn't love freshly baked bread?! Shortly after, fate intervened when a family member suggested he turn his hand to baking bagels and soon after, Uncle Bagel was born. Since its inception, Thomas has devoted both time and resources in his quest to create London’s best bagel and has even compiled meticulous qualitative data on the subject, whereby he interviewed self-professed London based bagel enthusiasts (many of whom hail from the USA, i.e. the undisputed home of the bagel and have hitherto, been dissatisfied with London’s bagel offering.) Now with a regular pitch at London’s infamous Lower Marsh Market, Thomas is one step closer to satiating the appetite of bagel lovers the city over, to include his niece and nephew who remain his biggest fans and authors of the Uncle Bagel name.

Hi Thomas, tell us - what makes the perfect bagel?

Haha...Ah the magic secret! The primary focus is making sure that the baking process is just right so that the bagel ends up being doughy on the inside but with a slightly crunchy surface. When it comes to serving, I always like it to be toasted and fresh ingredients are an absolute must!

I love your blog and was really impressed by the research you did with bagel loving Londoners. Can you tell us more about that?

Sure, the blog is going really well and I'm a big fan of the lean start-up method - if you haven't checked it out already, go and look it up! One of the fundamental points it makes is to research your idea before you execute. There is no point setting up a business if there is no demand for your product; everyone likes to think that they have the best idea, which the public will love, but you can save yourself a lot of time and money by doing a bit of research first. 

Congratulations on your spot at Lower Marsh Market. How did you go about securing the pitch?

It was actually fairly straightforward, the secret really is to find the right location and once you have it, you need to speak to the local council and get registered with them. Some have a waiting list of 6 weeks, whereas for others, it's 6 years, it really just depends. In this case, there was a local management firm who look after the market. 

Can you tell us the difference between bagels which hail from different places, i.e. NYC, Montreal, Chicago, etc.? 

Bagels are similar in many respects but they differ on a few key areas. Firstly, they have to be boiled and the secret is knowing how long to boil them for and also knowing how long you let the dough proof. Also, the bagels need to go in the oven immediately - there can be no delay. So speed and time are critical factors which will impact certain variables, specifically the 'doughyness' of the bagel, and the crunch on the outside. Different cities around the US will manage these variables differently.

What would be your advice to someone looking to ditch the 9-5 in favour of setting up their own business?

Personally, I wouldn't ditch your job until you get a clear sense of the traction of your product. Traction means how well received it is by the public, and what level of interest you're getting. In an ideal world, you might want to start off on a weekend basis, maybe doing a Saturday or Sunday. Once you've got a sense of how it's going, you can then begin to decide whether you should go full time.

And finally, how has NCASS membership helped with Uncle Bagel?

NCASS have been great, they've helped me with advice with regards to locations and equipment and they've also guided me on legal issues and dealing with common challenges. Definitely great value for money, well worth it!
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