For friends visiting Los Angeles, we always recommend a stop at Courage Bagels
for what are lauded as the best bagels nationwide. Trust us when we tell you the perfectly charred Montreal style bagels are a revelation. Meet Arielle Skye, who alongside her husband Moss, is one half of Courage. Arielle hosted us at their bustling shop on a rainy afternoon to discuss reinvention, the fluidity of creative expression, and how her gentle and inviting spirit permeates her food, work, and life.
Tell us about yourself. Can you share more about your background? What drew you to dough?
I grew up in a small town in Michigan - moved to LA as a young broke 19 year old in search of adventure, to shake up my life and get out of my comfort zone - cliche, but to find myself. My now husband, Moss and I had been dating for a year when I unexpectedly lost my (two) jobs at the same time. He was writing a book about lucid dreaming - but years prior had been a baker. I always loved food and health - and understood the connection between the two - and now here I was dating this guy who was an amazing cook w/ amazing taste and was teaching me so much -who shared the same values of eating real foods - foods not messed with. I was inspired by his stories of baking and grains and starters and sourdough and wild fermentation - I was drawn to the simple tactile act - life felt so complicated but if I could just use my hands maybe that could make it a little less so. I started experimenting, making bread and then bagels - from the moment I made the first batch - Courage had a life force of its own.
Where did the name ‘Courage Bagels’ originate?
Sitting on the kitchen floor late one night with Moss - trying to think up a name. He had asked me to tell him why I was so excited about the bagels - I was reading a lot about the history of bagels at the time and started to read him a passage that spoke about the depth of courage in the families and artists who were selling this modest bread, on the streets, often illegally to take care of themselves and each other. — ‘Courage bagels’- that’s the name, Moss said, and we just sat and stared at each other - and it was just like, yup. That word resonated so deeply with where I was at in my life…I needed to build my own courage while building courage.
What was it like opening a storefront in the midst of 2020? What’s changed since?
Terrifying and surreal. When you’re opening a business - you’re already taking a risk and flinging yourself into the unknown - the pandemic just heightened the level of “aaaaaahhhhh!!!!” The mantra was ‘one day at a time’ and that helped a lot. There was so much pressure but a relief of pressure at the same time - it was like everything needed to be perfect but if it wasn’t perfect you could blame the pandemic and forgive yourself for failing.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love working at creating the world I want to live in - I love dreaming and working with my husband. I love making people happy and creating a happy place to work.
What is your current favorite on your menu right now?
The wild Alaskan salmon roe is my forever favorite. I like to put a sardine on it! Soooo delicious and soooo good for you!
How do you like to set the tone for your day and the shop? what music do you like to play and listen to while you work?
At this point, we have kinda compiled playlists according to what the team enjoys - so everyone gets a little bit of what they like :) if it was just up to me - hmm it’d be a lot of Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar, Nipsey Hussle, Talking Heads. Starting the day with Iko Iko by The Dixie Cups is also a good move.
What do you like to wear when you work?
Long loose dress with sneakers, or a great pair of jeans w/ a comfy tee - sometimes I like to be impractical and wear my loafers in the kitchen.
What has been inspiring you as of late?
John Derian’s flower arrangements, old classic hotels, starfish, hummingbirds, Greece, old ladies, books, vintage cars.
What does community mean to you and what do you love most about the Courage Bagels community?
What makes me happy are the relationships, connections, family, team - bringing people together- making a difference, making someone's day better, sharing from the heart.
What do you like to do to unwind and recharge?
Walks in nature solo, glass of wine and laughs with a friend, taking pictures, read something spiritual, listen to a podcast while I do the dishes, paint, get a massage, make dinner.
Can you tell us what’s next for Courage Bagels?