Carlton Farmers Market regulars are already well acquainted with Masses Bagels. It’s hard to miss the stall thanks to a constant line of customers eager to get their hands on bagels, tartines and bialys before they sell out. And they always sell out.

Founders Jack Muir-Rigby and Carmen Newton had what Muir-Rigby describes to Broadsheet as a “life-changing” bagel when the pair were living in Japan. They returned to Australia in 2019 and started making bagels together for fun while Muir-Rigby was working as a chef at Etta and Newton was a manager at Market Lane Coffee.

They first sold the bagels at Etta when the restaurant pivoted to takeaway during the 2020 lockdowns. Muir-Rigby then spent two years as head chef at Hector’s Deli during the “thick of Covid” – Hector’s founder Dom Wilton tells Broadsheet Muir-Rigby “completely changed the way our team thought about food and elevated what we were doing to another level” – before moving to Brunswick’s Wild Life Bakery.

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In July last year, Muir-Rigby and Newton ran their first Carlton Farmers Market stall, and Masses Bagels was met with instant support.

Each week, expect a sea salt bagel, an everything bagel and a wildcard such as sprouted grains or rye. They’re sold as single bagels to take home or are available to eat at the market either with spreads or as part of a tartine (an open-faced sandwich).

Every bagel is one hundred per cent naturally leavened using a sourdough starter. They’re made using a three-day process that involves activating the starter, fermenting the dough overnight, and portioning and shaping the bagels before boiling and baking them.

The result? A bagel with a thin blistered exterior and a light and chewy inside that’s full of character and flavour.

“We haven’t really set out to create a New York- or Montreal-style bagel,” says Muir-Rigby. “It’s more that we wanted to create a bagel that we love eating.”

Spreads are made with local produce but are kept simple to hero the bagels. You’ll always find whipped Schulz Dairy quark with honey and olive oil, or a seasonal jam made by Newton.

The tartines are the most popular Masses Bagels item and there are usually two types on offer at the stands: one that changes weekly and one that stays on the menu for longer, but changes seasonally.

Last summer’s special was the tomato tartine with parmesan cream and heirloom tomatoes. The current mainstay is an everything bagel with hot smoked rainbow trout served with cucumber pickle, a drizzle of horseradish and preserved tomato vinaigrette. Weekly changing specials have included pickled jalapenos with dry-aged and cured pork.

Also on offer are bialys, a pillowy Polish bread that resembles a bagel but is not boiled before being baked and is typically indented and filled. At Masses they’re filled with ingredients like cheddar and quince jam or confit garlic with caramelised whey made by pastry chef and cheesemaker Lucy Whitlow.

Masses Bagels remains a side hustle and Muir-Rigby still works full-time at Wild Life. But the duo are on the hunt for a permanent north-side location.

For now, you can keep updated on their next market dates, pop-ups and events via the Masses Bagels Instagram.

Masses Bagels will not be at the Carlton Market this upcoming Saturday May 11.