Featured Local Producer
by Gail Falk, Staff Writer
For shoppers with flexible schedules, the best times to shop at the Co-op are midday on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That’s when Anne Labrusciano delivers Whizzo Bagels, fresh out of the oven from her home on Hollister Hill.
Making the chewy, golden bagels is an exacting two-day process. On the first day, Labrusciano mixes the dough and forms it into balls, weighs them, and plunges her thumb into the balls to form the hole in the middle. She lays out the raw bagels on baking sheets and sets them in a large refrigerator to rise for 24 hours.
The next morning, she boils the bagels in a large pot of water, tops some with poppyseeds, sesame seeds, salt, or minced onions, and then bakes them until they are golden and fragrant. After the bagels cool, she packages and labels them, and loads them into her car for delivery.
Plainfield shoppers are lucky to be the first stop on the Whizzo delivery route, so we get the freshest bagels. Originally, Labrusciano delivered the bagels in open baskets or crates, but, like so many things, the pandemic changed that. Now they come bagged for hygiene, four to a package — some plain, some with toppings and, on Wednesdays, cinnamon raisin.
Whizzo (the name comes from Monty Python) is a one-woman operation located in the roomy kitchen of Labruciano’s farmhouse on Hollister Hill Road. Before becoming a bagel baker, Labrusciano worked at a variety of gigs and jobs that sound like a directory of counterculture Vermont businesses: seamstress for Wild Oats, baker at Horn of the Moon Café, popcorn popper and video staff at the Savoy Theater, hatmaker selling her creations at regional craft fairs, and student at Adele Dawson’s herb school.
It was a moment at the herb school that brought Labrusciano permanently to Marshfield. She recalls standing on Dawson’s porch on Lower Deport Road looking out into the village of Marshfield and seeing it as the quintessential rural Vermont village she had been yearning for after years of living in Burlington and the Mad River Valley. That was 1987, and she has lived in Marshfield ever since, eventually moving to the large traditional wooden farmhouse where she raised her three children and now produces bagels.
Labrusciano started baking bagels for her family about 20 years ago because she couldn’t find bagels around here that tasted like the New York City bagels she loved. She found a recipe for long-rising bagels that produced the puffy, chewy texture she wanted, and then she adjusted the ratios of salt and sugar until she got the flavor to her liking.
At first she sold bagels at the Plainfield Farmer’s Market. In 2010 she took a plunge and bought an industrial Hobart dough mixer. Our Co-op was her first retail outlet. Bob Messing invited her to start selling at Hunger Mountain, and after that her business took off. In addition to Plainfield and Hunger Mountain Co-ops, you can find Whizzo Bagels at the Marshfield Store, Buffalo Mountain Co-op, Craftsbury General Store, Fox Market and Farmers to You.
Photo credits: Gail Falk and Anne Labrusciano