It takes well over a week of careful brining, curing and smoking for chef Kyle Corbin to transform a cut of locally-sourced beef into the pastrami that forms the centrepiece of one of his most popular sandwiches.
"It's a different approach to food in the fact that there's no instant gratification," explains Corbin, the owner of one of Guelph's newest food trucks, Gilbert's Delicatessen.
Long interested in the process and tradition of curing meats, after two decades cooking in other people's restaurants, including most recently at Guelph's Buon Gusto, Corbin was ready to start his own venture when the pandemic hit.
Banks "weren't super friendly with giving loans" at the time, he recalls. So he "pivoted" his vision of a brick-and-mortar deli counter to a food truck.
In October of 2021, Gilbert's Delicatessen hit the road.
A rotating cast of Corbin's cured meats anchor what he hopes are "killer" deli sandwiches, paired with kettle chips, salads and soups.
The venture is named for his late grandfather who taught Corbin how to cook.
"The reason why I'm at where I'm at and why I'm doing what I'm doing really all comes down to him," Corbin explains.
Injured in a car accident, Gilbert couldn't stand for long periods of time and would use Corbin "as his set of hands" in the kitchen, Corbin says.
"He was really into cooking and sort of showed me what to do."
While both his parents worked out of town, starting around the age of 10, Corbin hung out with his grandfather five nights a week preparing food for the family.
He says their time together taught him to love good, simple food. And it's a passion he appears to have carried into the food truck that now bears his grandfather's name.
For Corbin the value in the time-consuming process of curing meats in-house is reconnecting "more to the way food should be," and allowing diners to "appreciate the complexity of flavours that comes into food through taking time and doing it well."
It's also a "chance to honour where the production came from," he continues. All the meat at Gilbert's Delicatessen is locally sourced, with much of it coming from Meeting Place Organic Farm in Bruce County.
As for the truck's name sake, Corbin says he thinks the fare he's serving today would be "totally up his (grandfather's) alley."