Cheryl Mignone began making bagels in her Kaysville home during the pandemic simply because she and her family, as recent transplants from New Jersey, couldn’t find a bagel reminiscent of the crusty and chewy bagels of their East Coast heritage.
This exact dilemma is familiar to many in Utah who have otherwise experienced the hallmark shiny skin and springy texture of an East Coast bagel that’s been boiled in a water bath before baking—a step many local (and mass-produced) versions skip. While a bagel may be merely a handful of simple ingredients that form a round bread with a hole in the center, the bagel is so much more to those who love them.
“Unless you’ve had one of Cheryl’s bagels, it’s hard to describe the magic they possess,” writes customer Liz Zettel Etter. “I lived in New Jersey for almost two years and fell in love with their bagels. I came home and wondered why Utah didn’t have bagels like the East Coast. I guess it was because this magician hadn’t moved here yet.”
In Salt Lake, there are only a few notable spots that offer truly delicious examples of what a real bagel should look, feel and taste like. Yet for the Mignone family, those options were not only nearly an hour away from their home, but also unavailable for months early in the pandemic. .
And so Mignone, a seasoned businesswoman in healthcare and higher education, began making bagels in the family kitchen. “I love a challenge and learning new things,” she says recalling the early trials. “Everything was covered in a dusting of flour,” Mignone chuckles, gesturing to the open great room concept of her home.
Her husband and teenage sons were her trusted advisors and tasters throughout the testing process that began in May of 2020, helping her recall details of their favorite bagel shop in River Edge, New Jersey—Kinderkamack Hot Bagels. Visiting her muse after a year of trial and error this past holiday season, Mignone says, “We concluded, I have truly replicated an East Coast bagel in Utah, by taste, texture and look. The only difference I found is that I go heavier on the toppings on my bagels.”
Just as she has from her first samples given to friends and neighbors in July 2020 to now, Mignone hand rolls, boils and bakes each bagel by hand—but now from her food-grade kitchen. “I pride myself on using simple ingredients and old-school methods,” she says. “It takes time, patience and strong arms to make good bagels.” She even hand signs each bag bearing her products.
Mignone has recently added gourmet flavors of asiago, jalapeno cheddar and cinnamon sugar to her website to go along with the classic flavors (poppy seed, sesame seed, garlic, onion, salt, plain, everything). All are offered in half ($9.95 gourmet, $8.95 classic) or whole dozens ($17.95 gourmet, $15.95 classic).
“Cheryl’s everything bagel with just a little cream cheese is my idea of a perfect breakfast,” customer and Utah native Amy Haran explains. “The seasoning is bold and the exterior is perfectly golden and crunchy. I now get the obsession with East Coast bagels.”
From her initial sales in early September 2020, Mignone has increased her maximum capacity to 24 dozen bagels a day. She’s upped her baking days from one to four per week but customers often wait two weeks to pick up their orders of warm bagels from her Kaysville home. “At first it was to keep me busy, make people happy, and show my kids what hard work looks like,” explains Mignone. But her rapid success has made her begin to, “envision that there might a real business for me.”
In early February, she’ll begin offering pickup in Sandy on Mondays.
“That’s a super convenient option,” says Jeni Libin, a customer who currently drives from Holladay to Kaysville to pick up orders for herself, mom, sister and friend. “We were delighted to find East Coast bagels in Utah. The texture is fantastic and all the flavors are delicious. Our house is always happier when Cheryls Bagels are on the counter.”
While Cheryls Bagels may be a happy accident, Mignone intends to have fun with her creation and see where her mastery of the crispy, chewy exterior can take her. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet so many new and interesting people,” she says and then laughs, “I’m still not used to the concept that people really appreciate my bagels.”
Read about the other winners in The Salt Lake Tribune poll.