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Some positive news comes to Toronto in the form of handmade doughy goodness as we close out a year full of surprises, setbacks and struggles. In a city that holds a deep adoration of bagels, there's an up-and-coming spot in town and it's not your typical bagel shop -- which makes it that much more appealing.
Sherm's Bagels, the 24-day-old bagel phenomenon that has sold out consistently each week, started on a whim in every sense of the phrase. Jesse Labovitz, a professional drummer who plays with bands No Warning and Headstones, found himself in the same position as every other touring musician this year, trading in live shows and time on the road for at-home work and new hobbies to nurture. In his case, an affinity for homemade cast iron pizza-making yielded leftover dough that turned into bagel experimentation one Sunday morning. After a couple of days of recipe tweaking with his best friend and fellow music industry peer, producer and writer Adam Fujiki, the duo came up with a recipe that Labovitz describes as "Montreal-style, but with a little bit of Bagel World." Read: the slightly dense and sweet distinction of a Montreal bagel with a hint of extra softness and chew in the middle makes them uniquely delicious.
After running a quick Instagram poll to gather interest from friends and followers, Labovitz woke up the next day feeling inspired to bake and sell their bagel creations. His wife, a Toronto-based DJ and graphic designer whipped up the bright blue logo within 20 minutes of landing on the name Sherm's, which comes from his late grandfather Sherman who worked as a professor in Philadelphia during the controversial McCarthy era.
Their first batch of orders sold out in a mere 30 minutes, which sealed the deal that these bagels are something special and lead Jesse to start rethinking future plans for both himself and the newfound company.
Sherm's bagels are currently being produced in small batches at their friend's empty condo space but Jesse and Adam are working hard on sourcing a commercial kitchen to increase production and allow for more opportunities. The bagels are prepared using the traditional baking and boiling method, and although the team doesn't have access to a wood-fired oven right now, Labovitz expressed interest in sourcing one down the line. Despite the venture being entirely new to them, the feedback and support they have received thus far is astounding, including from the head chef of one of Jesse's favourite restaurants, Enoteca Sociale, who tried the bagels during their first week and has been raving about them since.
The outpouring of interest has undoubtedly proven that there is a ton of opportunity for Sherm's, but Jesse described his vision of having it "grow organically and by word of mouth" so that they can continue to create small-batch bagels until they solidify their next steps. "Our plan was to get through the first month and start thinking about how to scale once we get to 2021," he notes, although the popularity has forced him to consider his options for kitchens, an ordering system and a scalable plan sooner than expected. Regardless of how long that takes, Sherm's will only continue to expand, serving up their one-of-a-kind bagels to eager Torontonians -- or rather, those who manage to actually get their order in through their Instagram page before they're sold out for the week. Orders of fresh bagels coated in sesame seeds, poppy seeds or everything spice are available for pickup only and can only be placed through their Instagram messages for now.
In terms of a quarantine passion-project-turned-business, Sherm's Bagels is looking like quite the success story. From lifelong music industry pals to bagel slingers, Jesse and Adam have created something special and we're looking forward to seeing where it takes them. Follow Sherm's Instagram page to order their delightful bagels, stay up-to-date on their growth plans and support this amazing new spot.