st clarens bagels toronto

This new bagel place in Toronto is so popular it's already sold out for the whole month of May

A new Toronto bagel project is already sold out for the whole month of May, which is pretty good for someone with a full-time job as a human rights lawyer.

"Cooking has always been a love of mine," newly minted bagelmeyster Robert Tarantino says. "Baking is a new adventure."

Before working in law he worked in the food industry in the GTA and during a year living abroad in Paris, France, doing everything from washing dishes to making pizzas to being a sous chef. He also completed the George Brown Culinary Arts program a few years back.

Tarantino started his own practice, Tarantino Law, about a year ago, with a focus on employment, human rights, disability benefits and alternative dispute resolution, and prior to that worked in law for about a decade. 

"I've always loved bagels and it provides a wonderful creative outlet for me, which is very different from my day job as an employment lawyer," Tarantino tells blogTO.

"Baking is fun and relaxing, and it brings delicious happiness to people, especially during these difficult times."

With the encouragement of friends and family, Tarantino startred St. Clarens Bagels in November. The name is both a literal reference to the street he lives on and a nod to St-Viateur Bagels in Montreal, as he makes Montreal-style bagels.

"The bagels are small batch, hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, heavily seeded, baked first on red cedar bagel boards and then flipped onto a hot baking stone," Tarantino says.

"They're crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with a distinctive sweet taste."

He started out with sesame, salty poppy and everything varieties, and also recently added an already popular rosemary salt option. Baked fresh every Saturday, they're $20 for a dozen and $10 for a half dozen, with pickup available on Saturday around midday to early afternoon.

"I started my Instagram page for fun and began getting inquiries, so I figured I had better start baking more," says Tarantino.

He takes orders, when he's not sold out, via Instagram DM.

"I started researching bagel baking methods, experimenting with the recipe, and refining my process to be able to expand my weekly capacity."

He started by baking only about a few dozen per week at first and giving them away to friends and family, but that's now turned into baking batches of about 90 bagels every Saturday. In early 2021, he started selling out, with monthly pre-orders being snapped up in 20 minutes.

"It's become a real family affair," says Tarantino. "Saturday is now bagel day around my house, with my two young kids taste-testing and my wife as social media consultant." 

While he's sold out for the month of May, in June St. Clarens Bagels will be moving to a weekly preordering system instead so people don't have to wait as long.

There's also some fun branding, merch and even his own gravlax in the works, so this is definitely a bagel maker to watch.

Lead photo by

St. Clarens Bagels

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