Article and pictures by Ana Fernandes
Bagel Time is run by the brothers Irfan, Adnan and Imran Khan, who praise the meticulous art of producing this slightly sweeter and chewier bagel.
Brothers who immigrated from Pakistan cooking a Jewish recipe they learned in Montreal, at the heart of Greektown in Toronto. It can’t get more Canadian than that. And all of this cultural richness provided the neighborhood with delicious authentic Montreal-style bagels served right at Danforth Avenue.
As soon as you step in the Bagel Time store, the smell wins you over. The bagels are, as stated by the tagline, “baked fresh everyday”, actually every couple of hours. You can see them coming out from the wood-fired oven, beautifully toasted and in all different flavours: plain, sesame, poppy seed, garlic, cinnamon and raisins. The images on the walls show tasty sandwiches, from the popular smoked salmon to the simple yet flavourful cream cheese.
“These are the best bagels ever. It’s kind of dangerous that it’s so close to home,” says Riverdale resident Kerry Milligan, already a regular to the store, who has come over five times to Bagel Time in the last month.
The owner, Irfan Khan, learned from the best, working for the traditional St-Viateur and Fairmount bagel shops in Montreal. He says it is important to use the best ingredients and to follow the recipe meticulously. The trick, however, is the oven and the rolling of the bagels.
“I don’t have gas in my oven. In Toronto, 90 per cent [of bakeries] have gas [ovens]. And the second thing is we roll by hand, nobody rolls by hand in this city, just in Montreal, and we are rolling by hand. Machine rolling and hand rolling makes a big difference.”
The customers certainly seem to appreciate Irfan and his brothers Adnan and Imran’s attention to detail.
The store opened by the end of April and, during the first month, they sold over 40,000 bagels. And the business is still growing. Bagel Time is now selling for grocery stores and soon it will have a second location. Irfan says he’s already got a place at the city’s west-end, close to Bathurst Street, which he plans to open in two months.
“My two younger brothers and I, we know this business,” says Irfan. “We make them from our own hands, with our own labour. If I keep the recipe good and provide good service, we can run good business.”
After working a while with construction, Irfan came back to the bagels for their business potential and also for the emotional connection. He says they didn’t have bagels in Pakistan, but quickly took pride in producing this unique type of bread. It might not be a dish from their past, but it is one that they have embraced for their future in a diverse country and in an inclusive neighborhood.
582 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1R1