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Montreal-style bagels available in Vernon

Bonsai Bagels opens Family Day Monday with Vernon baker who lived out east at helm along with his wife
Vernon’s Loren Letourneau and wife Marisol are the owner-operators of Bonsai Bagels, which opens Monday, Feb. 22, at 8 a.m. in the former Kal’s Naan Stop and Tita’s Italian Bistro building on 41st Avenue. (Facebook photo)

Distinctive hand-made bagels famous in Eastern Canada for their dense consistency, thin shape and somewhat sweet taste make their North Okanagan debut Monday.

Bonsai Bagels, at 3002-41st Avenue, is a Montreal-style bagel company owned and operated by a Vernonite.

“Once you’ve tasted a Montreal bagel, there may be no going back to a mass-produced one,” says baker Loren Letourneau, who has worked abroad for many years but decided to move home to Vernon with wife Marisol to be closer to family and friends.

“Montreal bagels are chewy, with a light crunch on the outside that comes from being baked after a dip in honey-water.”

‘Elevate the Everyday’ is the motto for Bonsai Bagels, which opens Family Day Monday, Feb. 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The store will operate Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The bagels will be available for sale at Vernon’s Butcher Boys grocery store starting Friday, Feb. 25, The Boarding House Café as soon as possible and Nature’s Fare beginning in March.

All things bagel has been a long-time passion for Letourneau who spent years in Montreal, experiencing the culture and history of these amuse-bouches.

“In Quebec, bagels are more than just food, they represent tradition,” he says. “Jewish immigrants from Poland originally brought this baking technique to Canada in the early 1900s and they continue to be enjoyed during Jewish holidays and other celebrations.”

Katherine Romanow, Jewish food historian, has noted that bagels have come to represent Montreal at large and Montrealers are raised eating bagels.

Letourneau’s parents have been stalwart Vernon community members and played in the Okanagan Symphony. He credits them for fostering his creativity and supporting his ambitions.

Letourneau and his wife Marisol purchased the former Kal’s Naan Stop and Tita’s Italian Bistro building, which is the storefront of the burgeoning bagel business. Letourneau is hopeful to not only provide bagels to walk-in customers, but also to businesses who want to elevate their baked offerings.

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