15 Hours on the Job With a Bagel Roller

It’s dark. It’s 39 degrees outside.and it’s 2:40 am

At a bus stop in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood, wearing a black puffer jacket, jeans, gray Skechers and a black North Face backpack, Celestino Garcia has already started her day.

Garcia, 58, stretches his neck to find the B3 bus to the Avenue U subway station. He then takes his F train to his first workplace of the day, Cobble his Hill’s Court Street Bagels. There he rolls hundreds of bagels by hand.

Supervising Producer CC Allen and Associate Producer Gina Fernandez of The New York Times’ Cooking Video Team followed Mr. Garcia this particular Friday in March to shoot the first episode of the new season of bottom.on the job(This episode will be uploaded to YouTube on Friday afternoon.) Hosted by Food and Cooking reporter Priya Krishna.on the jobtells the story of New York’s hardest working people. A nearly invisible workforce shapes what and how New Yorkers eat. Each episode is about 10-20 minutes long and spotlights his day in the life of someone like Mr. Garcia, one of his last bagel rollers in the city.

Garcia is used to early phone hours. His 6th day of his week begins at midnight. Getting out of bed was a bit of a challenge for members of The Times food team, but it was worth it. The team likes to slowly introduce the subject to the staff throughout his day of shooting.

“They aren’t the people you see on camera,” Allen said in an interview. “So if they’re going to have a camera in their face all day, we want them to feel comfortable.”

Krishna met the group at a bagel shop at 5:45 am. By then, Garcia was already stuffing a sheet pan with fluffy bagels and preparing to head to the second Tompkins Square Bagels location on Manhattan’s Avenue A. He spends 15 hours a day working in three stores. He zips up his jacket and begins his commute with the Times team in tow.

One of Krishna’s goals was to highlight the efforts of people like Garcia, who make New York’s specialties and work tirelessly to feed the city. Serialization starts in January 2022.

“What I can say about everyone we follow on ‘On the Job’ is that they are doing an incredibly difficult job,” Krishna said. “And they believe their job is not difficult.”

Six episodes of the first two seasons of the series have been viewed more than five million times. (“”How to Feed New York City’s Largest Middle SchoolThe episodes in which Krishna guides viewers through the life of a public school lunch cook in Queens alone account for nearly two million of those episodes. )

Planning for an episode begins months before filming. For each episode, a team of video producers interviews his three or four potential subjects. According to Allen, they typically choose work to focus on before finding someone to follow.

Once the producer has identified the right person, he or she will visit the scene to answer all the subject’s questions and ask if there is anything the person doesn’t want photographed, such as a secret recipe. A member of the team plans her shot list a few weeks in advance, breaking it down into about 12 scenes, and for each scene he lists 2-8 shots he wants to take.

But some of the best footage was shot at unpredictable moments.

In the latest episode, it was Mr. Garcia’s bagel rolling speed video. Krishna clocked Garcia’s time at 17 per minute, or about 3.5 seconds per bagel.

“He’s like an energizer bunny,” Krishna said as video journalist Mantai Chow from the cooking team zoomed in on Garcia’s hands kneading the dough.

While Garcia was working, Krishna asked in Spanish about Garcia’s life, daily life and passion for work. Her viewers praised her Krishna for her warm and friendly demeanor and frequent use of Spanish, one of the four languages ​​she speaks, to put her subjects at ease. . (Interpreter Estefania Valencia was also present at the scene.)

“It helps build trust,” said Krishna, noting that the first language of the workers she appears with is often Spanish, many of whom, like Garcia, are immigrants. .

Garcia finished rolling 1,700 bagels in four hours, an hour ahead of schedule. (We needed nine 50-pound bags of flour.) Krishna joined us on a six-block walk to our next and final destination, another part of Tompkins Square Bagels. She likes to keep track of someone’s day in order to truly understand what her job means to her.

With cameras on their shoulders, Allen and Chow took a position outside the store’s front door and filmed the exit. But as Garcia and Krishna got out, the bus stopped in front of the door, blocking Chow’s view.

“Can you do it again?” Allen called out. “Bus interference is occurring.”

After Mr. Krishna and an amused Mr. Garcia left the store again, Mr. Allen followed them and proceeded to the next location at a different pace for Mr. Garcia. Indoors, he descended the stairs to the basement, where he donned a black apron. The scent of cinnamon wafted through the room.

“New place, new energy,” he said.

Krishna sat on an overturned white bucket and made his assessment to the camera. “I can’t say I have the same oomph on my feet,” she said, as Garcia began kneading the dough for her bright yellow French toast bagel. He had already worked a full day, but he looked just as positive as when he started.

After filming is complete, Allen’s team reviews footage, combines camera angles, adds music, subtitles and narration. This process can be long and tedious. For example, her last 15-minute episode about Mr. Garcia took him over a month to edit.

“As an editor, you may not like going too far,” Allen says. “But there is value in capturing those precious moments that tell the person’s actual, true story.”

The team is planning five more episodes for the third season, which they hope to release every other month or so. This probably means five more very early alarms.

“But it’s worth it,” said Krishna. “That’s the only way to know the internals of the process.”

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