Chompie’s and Barrio Bread, two Arizona-grown brands, have teamed up for a unique collaboration that brings Sonoran-style bagels to the market.
Renowned James-Beard Award winner Don Guerra of Barrio Bread and Neal Borenstein, who heads up Chompie’s expansive bread and bakery department, have partnered for “the sake of the grain,” introducing a unique line of Sonoran-style bagels that are scratch made with intention, clean ingredients and lots of love.
“Our COO saw a need to fill a hole in the market for artisan bagels and this partnership is the result,” said Borenstein. “We worked for eight months simply developing and testing recipes because we wanted to perfect the formula.”
That formula tracks with Guerra’s development of a local grain economy and a desire to support local businesses by using all local ingredients. Everyone involved in the “grain chain” has an important role in showing consumers that amazing food can be made with the ingredients that grow locally.
“Along the way, we have realized customers crave a short ingredient list. They are more inquisitive and ask more questions about sourcing,” Guerra said of developing products with simplicity and intention. “This is changing with the times and we feel like this is how to do business. It has proven to be successful.”
In just a short time, this collaboration has also proven wildly successful. The first bagels rolled out this summer, starting with 15 dozen per week. Soon thereafter, demand necessitated the increase of production to 80 dozen each week. Borenstein anticipates that number increasing as the companies roll into high season.
“Customer feedback so far has been awesome. The Tucson community loves to support local business and agriculture. That has been a big ‘wow factor’ for the community,” said Guerra. “People are very excited about this product and the collaboration. We put it out the night before and people show up and sell us out.”
Currently three flavors are available — Sonoran Plain, Sonoran Sesame and Sonoran Everything. These unique bagels are unlike anything that already exists in the market and focus more on being an Arizona-grown product than replicating a traditional New York-style bagel. These Sonoran-style bagels highlight the region of farming and production, the people who are producing, selling and distributing it and the way the bagel is built. Made with Sonoran whole grain flour from Hayden Flour Mills, they are sourdough leavened, which enhances the flavor and results in lower gluten and lower glycemic levels through fermentation of microbes in the sourdough. The bagels do not have any added sugars or oils.
The bagels are currently sold at Barrio Bread and some pop-ups in Tucson. Upon the opening of Barrio Bakery inside of Hayden Flour Mills this October, the bagels will also be available there for pick-up one day a week. As the program continues gain steam, Borenstein hopes the bagels will eventually be sold at Chompie’s locations as well.
“We hope this program goes on for 20 years or more,” he said, adding, “We love supporting our community and we are honored and delighted that out of any place Don could have worked with, he wanted to work with Chompie’s.”
Founded in 1979, Chompie’s has since grown to multiple Valley locations and offers a wide array of bakery, deli and breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as full service catering, and a full line of mail order and wholesale breads, bagels and more.