Got a passion for patties? Try this popular new pop-up in East York

Metro Morning‘s food guide, Suresh Doss, joins us every week to discuss one of the many great GTA eateries he’s discovered.

This week, he talked to Ismaila Alfa about a new patty shop run by a Vietnamese Canadian cook.

Ismaila Alfa: We’ve seen a couple of Toronto’s legendary patty shops close recently. A new one is good news.

Suresh Doss: Yes, two of the biggest, most important patty shops in Toronto, Randy’s Patties and Fahmee Bakery closed within months of each other. The patty is Iconic Toronto food. It’s beloved by everyone, no matter your walk of life or background. So, when those places closed, I received a number of messages from people asking me where to go.

Ismaila Alfa: Which brings us to Phamily Eats. 

Suresh Doss: So this is a great story. During the pandemic we’ve seen a number of food pop-ups that launched on Facebook or Instagram. Peter Pham was behind one of those. He had worked in food in the past, but was at a construction job when we first went into lockdown. And then he started to play with layered pastry and pot pies and patties.

He would share his techniques and recipes over Zoom calls with his friends and family as he was perfecting them. Then inevitably he started selling them to people online. It  was an instant hit. I remember when I first had the patties about a year and a half ago, they were really something special.

The beef patty filling at Phamily Eats tastes like it has a Bolognese-like texture with a scotch bonnet flavour. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: How so?

So we have a number of mass produced patty companies in the GTA. But when something is made by hand and in small batches, you can spot it easily. The half moon shaped patties with the crimping, they look like they were made with love. And the stuffing is quite something. 

Peter was born in Canada but identifies as Canadian Vietnamese. So he brings in some of that identity into the filling. But you can expect minced beef, available in mild, spicy and extra spicy.

And it is a generous filling. If I can take a stretch here, it feels and tastes like Bolognese, something that has been cooking low and slow for a number of hours. 

Peter Pham opened Phamily Eats at a micro food hall in East York on Eglinton Avenue East. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: But with a different flavour, I’m guessing?

Suresh Doss: Yes so the scotch bonnets, and there is a secret blend of other spices. Even the vegan patty has that great comforting quality. It is cooked with kale, mushrooms, lentils, sweet potato and the spices.

Ismaila Alfa: So Peter went from sharing with family and friends to selling online and now a brick-and-mortar location. Tell us about the spot.

Suresh Doss: This is great news. It was so challenging to try and order patties online because they would sell out so quickly!  Sometimes, you just want a patty and you can’t seem to click fast enough. So luckily now, Peter has a counter in a micro food hall in Leaside where you can get the patties individually or by the dozen. And also pies. He has two great pies on the menu, which I recommend.

Ismaila Alfa: What are the flavours? 

There are chicken and rib-eye pies on the menu at Phamily Eats. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Suresh Doss: So these are puffy pot pies with plenty of layered pastry that is stuffed with either chicken and vegetables, like a chicken stew. And there’s a short-rib pie, which is also very good.

Ismaila Alfa: You said the store is set up in a micro food hall. What is that?

Suresh Doss: So this is another pandemic food trend. We’ve seen food halls pop up everywhere before the pandemic. But in the last two years, there have been several of these smaller food courts opening up in not-so-obvious places. Sometimes, it’s the size of one restaurant split into a hybridized food-court setting and you have three or four businesses sharing the lease to try and find success. 

So, at this food hall you have Peter sharing the space with Conspiracy Pizza, Midnight Cookies, Churnt Up, an ice cream bar. We are seeing quite a bit of this because of how high rent costs are. More importantly, it is providing this unique platform for small startups that are able to try something without large capital. 

Phamily Eats first opened as an online store with the occasional pop-ups before setting up a permanent shop in East York. (Suresh Doss/CBC)

Ismaila Alfa: Toronto is filled with cultural fusion foods. But what do you make of Peter doing here; re-mixing something as iconic as the patty?

Suresh Doss: The patty has shaped entire generations of curious eaters. We would eat them after school, waiting for the bus at the station or whenever we needed a quick snack and we had a few dollars in our pocket.

What Peter is doing is taking it back to the raw art form of homemade patties. And he’s leaving his imprint, which is what being a Torontonian is, that shared identity and the mosaic. It’s where the patty is headed as we see a younger generation show their own remixes.

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