How she settled on a mobile concept and developed the recipes for her mouth-watering sourdough bagels
CM: How did you get started baking?
CS: I grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and went to UNC to study French and biology. In 2008, I took a job at Magnolia Grill in Durham, learning pastry under Karen Barker and washing a lot of lettuce for Ben Barker. When I saw the opportunity to work under such celebrated chefs, I felt like it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance that I had to take and decided to change paths professionally.
CM: Your husband, Tori Schumacher, is also in F&B.
CS: I met Tori while he was a line cook at Magnolia Grill. We were young and ambitious and after a few years decided to move out to San Francisco to see if we could make it in a big city. We visited Charleston at the end of a work trip and felt like it was the right place for us. So we relocated here in summer 2015 and got married two years later. Ben and Karen highly recommended chef Mike Lata and his restaurant group. Tori began working for Lata and is now executive chef at The Ordinary. I staged at FIG, enjoyed it, and was excited about Melanie Durant’s dessert program there.
CM: Tell us about Girl Nextdough, which you opened with your dad, John McCormick, last September.
CS: When Melanie left FIG to open the Scram truck in 2016, I took over as pastry chef. After five years, I bought the truck from her. I always aspired to open my own business, and the food truck made sense due to COVID and staffing issues. It looked like a manageable capsule that my dad and I could run by ourselves. We do all of our prep at Salthouse Catering, making a couple of different breakfast pastries each week.
CM: How did you create your crowd-pleasing bagels?
CS: I learned the basic techniques while working in San Francisco. My dad and I did extensive recipe testing last summer to create our ideal bagel, soft enough for a sandwich. They’re time-consuming but easy to scale up for a large quantity. It’s a three-day process that begins with a 12 hour preferment [a type of dough that ferments in advance]. After that, dough is mixed, shaped, and portioned for a cold overnight fermentation. On day three, we boil and bake in the early hours, just before opening. The bagels usually finish baking by 6:30 a.m., then we load the truck and drive to our spot at CornerCopia at 1230 Camp Road.
CM: Last fall you were named the inaugural Karen Barker Baker by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Congrats!
CS: It’s another way to remember her legacy. I became a pastry chef mainly because Karen made it look so good! I think she saw that I took a lot of joy in my work, that I was eager to learn and willing to work hard. So she answered my questions and gave me extra recipes to try at home and books to read. She was a constant mentor and dear friend to me throughout the years.