AJ Ghambari was born and raised in the Seattle coffee and food industry. His father owns the Cherry Street Coffee House and taught him how to make and sell quality food. One of its primary suppliers was Seattle Bagel Bakery, which would deliver kettle-boiled bagels to the coffeehouse every morning. When the bakery's owner told AJ he was not sure if it would survive, AJ knew he had to act. He learned the bagel-making process and slowly began taking over at Seattle Bagel, overseeing the process of kettle-boiling each bagel. He now manages the business as it expands into a dual retail and wholesale operation across the city.
Making each bagel from scratch, bakers mix the dough by hand using flour that was sustainably farmed and distributed by a co-op of local farmers. They then form the bagels, plump them, and leave them to mature overnight as the flavors settle, the bread thickens, and the yeast stops throwing temper tantrums. At 4 a.m. the next morning, they throw the bagels into a kettle of boiling water to crisp the crust and leave a rich, chewy interior. Finally, the bakers top the bagels with sesame seeds, cheese, or onions, bake them in shelf ovens, and deliver them to local retailers by 6:30 a.m. The early delivery comes just in time for the morning rush of customers scrambling for bagels flavored with olive oil and pesto, bacon and cheddar, or sweet orange and cranberry—all of which can be smothered with housemade cream cheese or dry-rubbed lox.