Sort-of Secret: Burgers, bagels and pastrami from a Toronto man who’s a lawyer by day and a chef by night
A series that shines a spotlight on the city’s hidden edible gems
The sort-of secret: Burgers, pastrami, and bagels (oh my) from Daniel Seidman—lawyer by day, food influencer by night
You may have heard of it if: You follow @danseidman on Instagram
But you probably haven’t tried it because: This one-man show drops around fifteen burger and pastrami boxes per weekend
In a departure from the smash burger trend, where simplicity and potato rolls reign, a Toronto lawyer-slash-food-influence is selling thick, hefty patties in a kit that yields restaurant-quality burgers with a little at-home searing and stacking. Along with his signature pastrami and seeded sourdough bagels, the burgers are a longtime passion project turned business venture—the story behind a growing number of pandemic-era food businesses that promise to make a lasting impact on Toronto’s broadening food scene.
The burger patties—a well-marbled blend of about 50/50 chuck and boneless short rib—are freshly ground, vacuum-packed and cooked sous-vide; the final step is a quick sear at home to brown and heat through. Sous vide—slow, low-temperature cooking of vacuum-sealed food in a water bath—locks in moisture and aromatic molecules, which translates to extra-juicy, deeply flavourful meat. The kits include two patties, toppings and a couple of lightly sweet brioche buns. “I love a Martin’s potato roll, but this is such a thick burger, and brioche buns have a little more structural integrity,” says Seidman.
Jammy caramelized onions, which you’ll warm briefly in a pan, are among the toppings included. “I make my own champagne vinegar and use it to deglaze the pot,” says Seidman; the champagne flavour is subtle but lovely nonetheless. There’s also a creamy, punchy homemade burger sauce–a mayo-based concoction inspired by Big Mac sauce—as well as aged, finely grated white cheddar, sliced dill pickles, and all the butter and Diamond Crystal kosher salt you’ll need to sear the burger. (Detailed instructions accompany each box, so there’s no guesswork about the best way to put this all together).
Seidman, a lawyer by day, started a food-focused Instagram page in the final year of his undergrad as a creative outlet for his favourite hobby. It’s led to travel and sponsorship opportunities, but he never considered selling his wares until a couple of months ago, when—inspired by the pandemic successes of other home cooks—he decided to scale up his well-honed recipes and offer them to the public.
Besides the burger box, Seidman sells his two week–brined pastrami in the form of a sandwich kit, complete with his own sourdough bagels, horseradish mustard and sauerkraut. Pastrami is typically made from brisket; Seidman uses bone-in short ribs from the chuck end instead. “With brisket pastrami, you get the fatty point of the brisket, which is my favourite, but then you get a different texture with the flat end. It’s normally pretty juicy, given the brine, but I prefer the short rib because it’s much more uniform,” he says. The crust includes toasted coriander, black pepper and brown sugar; as with most pastrami, the brine is also heavy on coriander and black pepper, along with bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel and a touch of ground mace for warmth.
The bagels—also available on their own by the half-dozen—are tangy, heavily seeded and arguably somewhere between a Montreal and New York style; they have a good chew, but are less dense than the typical Montreal bagel. They’re available in poppy, sesame, or Seidman’s poppy seed–heavy, house-blended everything flavour. Seidman times the bagels carefully, making sure they’re only ten or so minutes out of the oven before each customer’s pickup time.
Orders open on Mondays at noon for burger box pick-up on Saturdays, pastrami boxes on Sundays, and bagels all weekend long. DM @thechefdan to order—and don’t forget to set an alarm, since batches are limited. For now, Seidman makes only about 15-20 burger boxes, 15 pastrami boxes, and a few dozen bagels per pick-up slot.