Bagel Guy’s Secret? He Can Make Brooklyn’s Tap Water in Delray Beach


bagelsCan a bagel made in South Florida be a real New York bagel?Yes, says, Steve Fassberg – if you have a secret ingredient.

Today in Delray Beach, Fassberg opens the doors to the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. (14451 S. Military Trail).

“There are a lot of elements in a perfect bagel, but the key ingredient is water,” says Fassberg, who grew up in Flatbush.

So Fassberg’s bakery is built around a water filtration system developed by Pompano Beach-based Aquathin Corp. that turns Florida water into Brooklyn tap water.

“It sounds a little far fetched,” says Fassberg. “But one of the first things you’re going to see when you enter our place is the entire process of how the water is treated.”

Indeed, enclosed behind a glass wall on the north side of the 3,000-square-foot restaurant are steel taps and tanks that make this bakery look more like a water treatment plant. Fassberg guides a guest through the “14 stages of treatment” -deionization, ozonation and mineral infusion among them.

“We have scientific proof,” says Fassberg “to back up every state of the process.”

Indeed, Alfie Lipshultz, president of Aquathin and a bakery shareholder, has sent purification systems everywhere from Haiti and Honduras to Israel and Ireland. And now Delray Beach.

“By the time it gets past our systems, it’s Brooklyn water,” he says. “We make it ultra pure to begin with and then we reinsert those nuances that make it Brooklyn water.”

What kind of nuances? “I’d have to kill you if I told you,” jokes Lipshultz.

Re-creating Brooklyn water isn’t impossible, but expensive, says Kartik Chandran, professor of environmental engineering at New York’s Columbia University.

Chandran, who grew up bagel-free in India, first became aware of the importance of water to bagels when he was asked his opinion for a grad student project on the history and culture of the New York City bagel.

“I used to think it was more perception,” says the professor. “But the way New York City water treats its water is quite different. The source is quite different.”

But not everyone agrees that the way to produce a bagel with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior is by replicating New York City water.

“It’s not the water,” says Iris Fuerst, the grand dame of South Florida bagel making who has been selling them for 35 years from her Sage Bagel & Delicatessen Shop in Hallandale Beach. “If you don’t have the recipe, the equipment and the know-how, no water in the world is going to help you.”

Fuerst not only grew up in Brooklyn, but her father also owned a bagel bakery.

“I was born with a bagel in my mouth,” she says. “I don’t know what he’s doing in Delray Beach. But God bless him. Let him make a living.”

{Sun Setinel/ Newscenter}