birdbox chicken sandwich

Toronto chef accuses San Francisco restaurant of copying iconic fried chicken sandwich

A Toronto chef is putting a US restaurant on blast after an article was published about their fried chicken sandwich, which looks strikingly similar to one he created.

Nate Middleton (formerly of n0w-closed Home of the Brave, currently partner and chef at Beast) took to his Instagram story to express his dismay and annoyance at having seen the article about the Claude the Claw sandwich at Birdbox in San Francisco, which appears to closely imitate the Handshake Sandwich offered at Home of the Brave.

The distinguishing feature of both sandwiches is a piece of fried chicken presented with its claw still attached.

"Hey Toronto, remember the @thehotb Handshake Sandwich? Well this dude @chrisbleidorn opened a spot based around the sandwich and is acting like he thought of it," Middleton posted to his Instagram story. "Give credit where credit is due."

He continues in his story, "Copying is definitely flattering. But give credit," and "Go ahead. Make it. Just say thanks. Especially if you build a whole business around it."

Middleton also posted photos of other similar-looking items at Birdbox like a pizza pocket creation, and took Chef Chris Bleidorn to task in the comments of one Instagram post.

Bleidorn's responded, "No idea who you are and first time seeing this but glad others are thinking the same way! Your sando look [fire emoji]. To me it seems like the intention of your version is a purely visual statement. Read the article and you will learn the process behind our story. It certainly didn't come from trolling Instagram."

"Yes mine was a visual statement of what food is and where it comes from," replied Middleton. "Yes I thought of and made it from 2013 - 2018. It doesn't strike me as a coincidence."

"Honestly there are probably many more out there that have put a chicken claw between two pieces of bread," Bleidorn wrote back. "I have never mentioned I have been the first to do this or anything for that matter, we just make a delicious sando."

"I had a conversation with the Chef. He denies copying. He also thinks his is a better version," says Middleton. "I have never seen a fried chicken sandwich with the foot attached. That's why I did it. My business partner Scott Vivian in his 25 years of cooking has never seen it. I have never seen anyone try it after. So it was pretty obvious to me."

He says he doesn't expect them to stop selling the sandwich after building a business around it, and doesn't expect credit for the idea either after his interaction with Bleidorn.

"I am satisfied that I addressed it. Chefs from SF said that he is fairly unoriginal and suggested I stand up for my creation. A few Torontonians commented on their page which I appreciate," says Middleton. "Creativity is a special thing and everyone can tap into their own."

Lead photo by


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Eat & Drink

Bars and restaurants in Ontario see big sales boost after patios reopen

Toronto restaurant with socially distanced pool parties is opening for the summer

Adamson BBQ owner Adam Skelly mounts constitutional challenge against Ontario

Toronto bar that closed has reopened underneath a popular nightclub

There are now huge outdoor patio spaces at some Toronto malls

Toronto neighbourhood unable to reopen patios because of brutal street construction

Toronto is getting a drive-thru food festival on the Canada Day long weekend

The members-only Spoke Club has permanently closed in Toronto