One might not expect a Phoenix-area bakery to compete with East Coast bakeries when it comes to bagels, but the website Nosher found such a gem in Phoenix. On May 1, Nosher posted “The best bagels in unexpected places around the United States,” and Odelay Bagel Co. was one of seven bakeries listed.
For Odelay’s owner and general manager, Ryan Probst, the news was a welcome surprise.
“They didn’t write to us to say that we were on the list but we were super excited when we finally found out,” Probst said. “After the article came out, we got slammed with customers for three days and I kept asking, ‘What is going on?’ and then finally someone showed us the article on their phone.”
In the post, Nosher wrote that Odelay bagels (which are not kosher) are “widely considered to be as good as any you’ll find in New York.” The food blog praised Odelay for the unusual creations that it sells alongside the classics. One such example is the black pepper and Parmesan bagel. Throw in some garlic-sriracha cream cheese for a truly unique flavor experience.
The shop offers more than a dozen flavors and sells upwards of 200 bagels per day. The dough is never frozen and there are no bagel machines in the kitchen. For Probst, creating the perfect batch of bagels all comes down to the right dough mix, time and temperature.
“The most polarizing piece of bread out there is a bagel, it divides people,” Probst said. “It’s a long process to make a bagel, and it’s definitely not easy. You can’t screw up, because if you screw up today, you don’t have any bagels tomorrow.”
Every bagel at Odelay is handmade and takes 24 hours. Probst keeps his dough recipe simple: salt, yeast, oil, honey for sweetener and distilled water. The dough is then proofed four times; once as a giant ball, again as smaller balls, then overnight once they’re shaped into bagels and one more time just before the bagels are boiled in malted water.
Probst’s venture into making bagels was not a passion he planned for, but rather something that popped into his head on a whim. Before baking, he worked as an air conditioner technician, performed guitar in the Tempe-based band Dry River Yacht Club and was preparing for law school in either Chicago or New Jersey. While making the decision on where to go, Probst realized that he wasn’t excited for a career in law. As simple as that, he decided to make bagels.
“I think, subconsciously, I just didn’t want to go back to school,” Probst explained. “I got in touch with some friends and we started baking and I fell in love with it.”
Shortly after deciding his new career, Probst began working at a commercial bakery, Jonathan Robins, in Tempe. Then he was baking bagels in his spare time. He soon understood how to make a good bagel, but he wasn’t satisfied there. Probst wanted to understand both the science of baking and the business of running a bakery.
His first bagel enterprise was a wholesale business called The Proof Bakehouse, where he would sell to restaurants like Desert Roots Kitchen. In addition to restaurants, The Proof Bakehouse sold to other entities, such as churches and synagogues.
In 2015, Probst opened Odelay Bagel Co. in Ahwatukee, just west of the I-10 highway. The name Odelay is a play on the Spanish slang word “órale,” which is roughly equivalent to “right on” or “wow” in English. Patrons can expect a relaxed and friendly atmosphere at Odelay, with coffee from local roasters and other, non-bagel, menu choices. Gluten-free muffins are available, and while Probst is quick to say that Odelay is not a Jewish deli, it does have lox to go with the bagels.
Probst’s goals right now are to keep up with the demand and possibly expand Odelay Bagel Co. into a larger space.
“It was great to receive notice in that article, because it’s important for my staff and myself to know that all our hard work is appreciated and that we’re doing a good job,” he said. “When you spend so much time working on something, something like that is very gratifying.” JN
Ryan Probst, owner and general manager of Odelay Bagel Co., with the Ahwatukee Soul Shock dance team.
Photo via Odelay Bagel Co. Facebook page.