A year ago, my friends Leon and Barella Kirkland jumped into the artisanal food world with they’re Philadelphia-style pretzels. After a little trial and error and many more successes, they recently acquired their own kitchen space in Crown Heights.
I stopped by to check out the new digs while they were putting the new space through its paces with a small test batch of a selection of their creatively topped pretzels. See below for some of the action behind the scenes.
Barella oversees most of the day to day production operations while Leon juggles a day job with the financial and infrastructure side of the business. Several months pregnant, the kitchen isn’t the only new addition to the family on the way.
Beyond the standard salted pretzels, Pelzer’s offers creative varieties like the everything pretzel and one with cranberry, rosemary and lemon mixed in.
Before they go in the oven, the pretzels are dipped in a lye bath. This is the traditional German method that according to Barella “really makes a pretzel taste like a pretzel.”
My initial apprehension was gone once she explained that this odorless solution of food grade lye wasn’t anything like the potent stuff used in that one scene in Fight Club. It all burns off in the baking, leaving only the distinct color and flavor behind.
Still, she uses a double layer of gloves and a good amount of care when handling the pretzels in this stage.