Sesame, poppy seed or cinnamon raisin? Toasted or not? Butter or cream cheese? Lox? These questions likely turn over in the minds of most Long Islanders every day. Have you even once considered taking a bold step and making your own bagels at home? East End author Robbie Vorhaus has, and choosing to follow his heart tastes pretty good, even better than his fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade bagels.
Vorhaus is the author of One Less. One More., a handbook for following your heart published this past September after a seven-year self-reflective process. Robbie Vorhaus “came from a broken home, flunked out of high school and has no college education”; he also considers himself to be the happiest man on the planet. The Sag Harbor resident lives with his wife, Candace, “my best friend, my bride, my protector, my champion,” soon-to-be college grad son, Connor, soon-to-be high school grad daughter, Molly, and their beloved canine, Ollie. Vorhaus is a well known and respected crisis expert and communications strategist, the founder and CEO of Vorhaus Media and Communications. Outwardly, Vorhaus seemed to have it all: a career advising some of our notably elite, a Park Avenue home, children enrolled in the finest private schools and a weekend home in the Hamptons. A mid-life am-I-happy quandary, along with numerous what-ifs led Vorhaus to courageously choose to follow his heart. He closed his business, sold the fancy address, paid back some debts and moved the family to their weekend Sag Harbor home. Embracing the bloom-where-you-are-planted expression, the Vorhaus family began to bloom. Words flowed and OLOM began to take root.
My dad is the son of Jewish New Yorkers. The most remarkable meal for breakfast is lox and bagels.
OLOM is not a new agey self-help book. It is, more or less, a guide to following your heart, discovering your life’s true purpose and courageously choosing to swap out one negative in your life for one positive. One less. One more. The crux of OLOM is the courage of choice. “The essential question we all face in every moment is what are we going to choose. Are we going to choose from our head or from our heart? Are we going to choose to contribute or are we going to take away? Are we going to improve people’s lives or are we going to use them or take from them, to make our lives better?” Vorhaus says choosing change is like taking baby steps. “If you have the courage of choice, you will change slowly. The only things that change quickly are fire, cancer and weeds.”
So, why bagels? “My mom is a Dutch holocaust survivor,” he says. “My dad is the son of Jewish New Yorkers. The most remarkable meal for breakfast is lox and bagels.” Thus he realized he had always wanted to make bagels. First came the research. He talked to bagel makers. “I found the more I got into this incredible process—that is nothing more than flour, water, a little salt, some yeast and a few other ingredients and toppings—what I found is that like anything incredibly simple, the mastery comes in the practice. And as you start discovering the simplicity of it, you start recognizing parts of yourself. It is really like anything in your life that you put your heart into; it’s really a process of self-discovery, another heart-centered journey.”
Has Vorhaus mastered the art? “I am in such awe of Goldberg’s Bagels in East Hampton and Breadzilla’s Bagels in Wainscott. There are so many decisions to be made, like how to pre-ferment the starter? How tough on the outside? How puffy? How dense? Flavors? Roll out the dough and bring it together or dough balls? Compared to Goldberg and Breadzilla, I am in kindergarten.” Furthering his point that mastery is less about perfection and more about practice, Vorhaus brings up a conversation with friend, running partner and master baker Eli Zabar. Vorhaus queried Zabar, during a run through Central Park, about whether or not he is a perfectionist. “Eli said, ‘I am a perfectionist and that will be the death of me. All bakers strive for the perfect loaf of bread, knowing in our hearts it doesn’t exist. Although my customers may be happy, I continue falling short of my own personal, illusive goal of perfection.’” Clearly embracing practice over mastery, Vorhaus wonders what it would be like to grow his own wheat and produce his own salt. Following his heart, he goes on, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to create bagels using the yeast from winemaking?”
Follow your heart. Change the world. Robbie Vorhaus’s mantra is powerful and sincere, simple and attainable. Live the life you were born to live. Listen to the tiny voice that says sing, write, hug … or make bagels.