Korshak Bagels opens in South Philadelphia


Nano Wheedan remembers the day in 2005 when Philip Korshak walked into Home Slice Pizza in Austin to apply for a job. “We loved him,” Wheedan said. “I don’t know if he had cooking experience. He told us he made bagels at home. We didn’t hire him, but later he brought us bagels anyway.

At the time, both men were transplants from Austin – Korshak, a Brooklyn native and poet and scholar, stopping off on a physical and metaphysical journey with Kendra, his wife, and Wheedan, a Philadelphia-born musician who s ventured to Texas. hill country after graduating from Harvard to play guitar and sing. In fact, Korshak said, he had only just started making bagels at home because the local product was – he shuddered – Einstein Bros.

Eventually, Wheedan hired Korshak as a line cook at Home Slice, where he rose through the ranks to run his kitchen operations, overseeing 85 people, building a $ 9 million per year business and earning credit in the national circle of pizzaiolo. Wheedan proudly notes how Tony Gemignani, 13-time world pizza champion, praised Korshak during a keynote address at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

To quickly advance this 15-year, nearly 1,700-mile story of food and friendship: the men are together in the bagel business, and Thursday, May 13, is the opening of Korshak Bagels in a former bodega at 10th and Morris Streets in South Philadelphia.

Korshak, now 53, does the heavy lifting, and Wheedan, 40 – who has his own Austin-style breakfast tortilla and taco business in the Bok building – supports him as investor / commercial director.

The shop has become the stuff of local tradition. Korshak signed the lease in February 2020, around the time Wheedan returned to town with his wife, Carinne, and suffered delay after delay. Neighbors were greeted daily by Korshak’s poetic (and sometimes apologetic) messages written on kraft paper and pasted to the front door and posted to his Instagram account, @ korshak.bagels.poetry.

What they’re looking for are Korshak’s bagels – plump beauties with a shiny crust with a pleasantly light sponginess inside – that have developed a hit over the past two years thanks to their pop-up sales at Pizza Place Angelo. in the Italian market, where he made pizza dough.

READ MORE: Nano’s Tortillas Brings Austin Breakfast Tacos to Philly

The Korshak menu includes eight “tried and true” bagel varieties (including a Gemini, half poppy and sesame), as well as six fancies, including Cooper Sharp long hot, cinnamon raisin and egg. It uses local whole wheat flour and rye from Castle Valley Mill in Bucks County and malt from Double Eagle in Montgomery County.

The homemade schmear is whipped cream cheese with goat’s milk and mozzarella brine from the Mancuso cheese factory down the street, and you can also get chutneys and jams, smoked Nova lox, and whitefish salad, as well as coffee, kombucha and teas.

The store opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays, at 8 a.m. on weekends.

»READ MORE: A round-up (!) Of the best bagels in Philly

One of Korshak’s secrets is his sourdough starter, which he named Helen Mirren. She started eight years ago, bolstered by a diet of green apple skins and Austin’s tap water, and traveled with him everywhere, even sitting uncovered in a Montreal bagel store for half a year. hour once to soak up the local terroir. Korshak’s bagels are a two-day process, many using different biga – the mixture of flour, water, and yeast that is combined with dough.

Korshak’s second secret seems more spiritual. Happy workers, he said last week in a conversation outside the store, make better bagels.

“The bagel is here to talk about what a store can do and what human beings can do if they are treated with respect and serenity,” Korshak said. “The relationship is with the dough. You can direct it and you can intimidate it and you can make it a thing where people go, ‘Um. It’s a bagel. And it will be the saddest, densest, most horrible thing in the world because you will have neither joy nor life. Give him what he needs so that he can be fully realized. This is also what running a store.

“I have 10 human beings in there,” Korshak said, pointing inside the store. “Of those 10, seven had never worked with dough before. He unwrapped a perfectly looking seeded bagel and handed it.

My shop is a place of beauty and light, and that’s because my shop is a place where equanimity and respect are inherent.

Philip Korshak, men’s bagel

“This is the bagel they made, with less than two weeks of dough working in my store,” he said. “It’s amazing, and it’s because my shop is a place of beauty and light, and it’s because my shop is a place where equanimity and respect are inherent.” Korshak said he pays a living wage.

Wheedan agrees with his friend’s theory. “I truly believe that when made with love, dough is an expression of personality,” said Wheedan. “No one does it the same way. I’m not going to say they’re better than any other bagel, but you can only get this bagel here. It’s a true expression of Phil.

You’ll notice a carnival-style double wheel of fortune on a wall opposite the counter. It’s partly a Coney Island shtick and partly utility. Undecided? Let the wheels decide. One wheel has the different schmears, and the other, turned in the opposite direction, denotes the variety of bagels. An egg bagel with blueberry compote? A garlic bagel with a mango and ginger chutney?

“It started as a reaction to wanting to be passive-aggressive about people asking, ‘What’s right? “Said Wheedan.” We thought, let’s do it and make it fun. I see it as a way to have a delicious time. It doesn’t matter what you get. There is joy in it.

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