SAN ANTONIO — The process of making the perfect bagel starts before the doors even open at Boss Bagel. But once 7 a.m. hits, you get to see executive chef and owner, Brannon Soileau, come to life with every familiar face.
"It's a fun thing to see these folks coming in every day – grabbing a cup of coffee, getting a bagel. It's a great thing," Soileau said.
He can be found performing what he calls a dance between the boiling water and wood-fire oven.
"I wanted to do something that no one else was doing in town and in the entire state because when I opened this business there was not one wood-fired place in the whole state of Texas," Soileau said.
However, to perform at such a high level, he had to recall his upbringing
"My dad was on the field all the time, and I was always left with the ladies a lot, Soileau said. "I remember my family pulling me in and picking beans, shucking corn and making maque choux and all these wild things and it just kind of took to me."
Remembering the lessons learned from his father in the field of football, Soileau started making connections.
"I started to realize that at a real high professional level that [kitchens] ran like a sports team," Soileau said. "It was highly disciplined, there was a head coach, there were assistant coaches... And everyone doing their jobs to make things work right."
He was inspired to apply to culinary school which would take him all over the country and the world – teaching and working in the fine dining industry.
It would be years later while working at the Culinary Institute of America at Pearl that he realized he wanted to venture into something of his own again.
"The teaching was fantastic and I loved working with the students, but this was calling me again. I had to get back into the fire," Soileau said.
"I would wake up at one in the morning – every single morning, and I did bagels in my oven on a piece of tile. I woke my whole family up," Soileau said.
Today Boss Bagel offers a wide variety of bagels, schmears, coffees and artisan sandwiches.
The journey is something he says he also owes to his team on the front lines.
"It's the staff as well. I have to have a staff that has the same type of passion and talent that I have – and that's what we do have," Soileau said.
And Soileau can't forget the folks on the sidelines who help to keep the passion burning.
"This is a magical city, It's truly magical, and yeah – you see passion in my eyes," Soileau said. "If you want to be a good chef, you better have this. You better have some work ethic, some discipline, some passion and some heart because you are going to need it," Soileau said.