Without Celestino García, New Yorkers might go without some of their most beloved bagels. At well-known shops like Court Street Bagels and Tompkins Square Bagels, you can see long lines out the door most mornings — but Mr. García’s work there is less visible. From 2 a.m. until late in the afternoon, he’s in the kitchen, mixing and hand-rolling dough in all kinds of flavors. Bagels can now be made by machine, so there aren’t many masters of the form left who can roll them by hand. But many bagel enthusiasts swear by the handmade approach, insisting that it produces a fluffier, chewier bite.
I spent a day with Mr. García as he went from shop to shop, casually rolling thousands of bagels at a time. And I learned how he became one of the most sought-after people in the New York City bagel business.