First Donut Fest NYC Makes a Hole in Brooklyn

Snow or shine, the sold-out show would go on, boldly proclaimed the home page

That’s Donut Fest. No rescheduling, no changes. With creator Bobalky & Gnocchi at the helm, the Chicago-based company wasn’t going to be deterred by a little snow for its first-ever New York City event, a popular doughnut showcase born in the Windy City three years ago. Unfortunately, a little was actually a lot. What had been an unusually mild winter for the eastern seaboard was about to change with its first major snowstorm — one forecasted to dump almost two feet of powder onto the Tri-State area.

So be it. This is New York, and no blizzard with 50 mph whirls was going to make me change my schedule. In all honesty, though, I almost didn’t make it.

The normally 30-minute subway jaunt to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg turned into a laborious two-hour journey. Trudging to the event space through the slippery squall was equally miserable, forcing me to rethink my relationship with this doughy breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert of choice. Surely I was out of my mind. But love does that, blinding one with such intense passion that sense is not common and stupidity is somehow genius.

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Yet upon arrival the energy of like-minded beings dispelled any doubts of my debating heart. Even when the flurry-filled wind forced itself through the revolving door of attendees, a perfume of sugar, butter, chocolate, beets (yes, beets) and coffee (but also booze) saturated the warehouse air and filled one’s lungs with sweet happiness.

If that weren’t enough, a local DJ provided the get-happy din of a Top 40 pop/rock mix while a massive LED board greeted doughnut obsessives with cheeky messages such as “Cruller Intentions” and “Dozen It Smell Great?”

But it was the main event, a tasting of delectable fried, yeasty bite-sized pieces of holey heaven — with optional pairings of coffee from local roasters (…and did I mention booze?) — that made one forget about calories, carbohydrates and new-year resolutions. Participating shops hailed from Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Milford, N.J., their trays heavy with drool-worthy delights ranging from simple to sophisticated.

Food truck-based newcomer Carpe Donut NYC brought its signature organic apple cider doughnut topped with cinnamon sugar, a modest yet satisfying treat whose texture was reminiscent of a cake and malasada hybrid.

Mike’s Donut Shop, a three-generation operation, showcased its 40-year-old family recipe marble cruller. Soft, buttery and with a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl of perfection, they certainly have no reason to change such a delicious thing.

More complex offerings were delivered by The Doughnut Project and Dun-Well Doughnuts. The former presented the most colorful entry with its “Those Beetz Are Dope” doughnut, a beet-glazed confection filled with palette-pleasing whipped ricotta. The latter, NYC’s first vegan doughnut shop, brought a variety so meticulously curated it was its own art festival. The two-tier indulgence featured a raspberry mocha doughnut filled with chocolate coffee Bavarian cream topped with a chocolate cake doughnut garnished with espresso bark. Intimidated? There’s a first for everything.

But what about a second? A sophomore effort should be all but sealed for this event of doughnut decadence, which will donate all proceeds to the Food Bank For New York City. With 95 percent of the $35-50 tickets being sold within four days and a hefty crowd of nearly 800 guests — despite a record-breaking snowstorm — the salivating consensus agreed when one attendee confessed, “I would’ve braved worse weather.”

Although love is indeed delirious, sometimes we’re also lucky enough to find it as delicious as the sweetest of fried obsessions: our favorite doughnut.

You can see the baked and deep fried treasure in the gallery below.

Photos by Beverly Braga