Like most native New Yorkers, Connie Leaf is a fan of the bagel. Many of her childhood memories revolve around the tradition of the East Cost bagel shop where her dad would pick up a selection, carrying it home to her in a brown paper bag. She wanted to bring this custom to the Vail Valley, her home since graduating from the University of Colorado in 2010.
About 16 months ago, Leaf got serious about the idea. As a bartender at Sweet Basil, she was already familiar with the ins and outs of the local restaurant biz but she had no baking experience. Thus began her journey into “bakes” and figuring out how to craft a bagel that satisfied in the same way as the ones from her childhood.
Leaf’s friends were willing guinea pigs and her private chef boyfriend provided invaluable advice and tips. In early October she officially launched Village Bagel. “I went from 2 a.m. bedtimes [as a bartender], to 3 a.m. wakeups [as a baker]—and I love it,” Leaf says.
At the moment, there’s no brick and mortar; instead Leaf sells seven bagel varieties out the backdoor of Mirabelle Restaurant in Beaver Creek. Several days a week, she uses the kitchen in the off-hours and is gone by the time Mirabelle’s morning crew comes in at 11 a.m. Occasionally, she also does pop-up events around the valley, and she wholesales to businesses such as Yeti’s Grind in Vail.
How are the bagels? Shiny-skinned, chewy, and delightfully malty. And since customers pick them up at the source, they’re warm, maybe even hot. “These are the freshest bagels possible,” Leaf says.
Tempted? Send Leaf a Facebook message to find out if she’s baking. She’ll get back to you in a matter of minutes with how many bagels (and which varieties) she has available. A word of advice: Buy her bacon and Hatch green chile cream cheeses. Spread one half of a plain bagel with a green chile schmear and one half with the bacon, and you’ll find a new nirvana.
Mirabelle Restaurant, 55 Village Road, Beaver Creek