Allison van Tilborgh
(Sanford Herald) Donutste Doughnuts: Chef Shalom's Fight for Flavor
Chef Shalom, founder of Donutste Doughnuts, quickly attained cult status in markets around Central Florida, where their plant-based donuts spread through word of mouth.
Custard filled-creme brulee donuts with crunchy sugar shells, fire-roasted smores donuts with chocolate cream and graham cracker topping, and bright pink lemonade donuts with fresh Meyer lemon are just a portion of Donutste Doughnut’s rotating seasonal selection. All Donutste Doughnuts are made without animal ingredients, crafted lovingly with plants. What inspires one to take on such a huge task, as starting a vegan donut business? For Chef Shalom, it began with his New York City childhood.
Although he was born-and-raised in what some consider the center of the world, his Brooklyn upbringing rarely put him in contact with the mysterious herbs and spices he’d read about when flipping through his mom’s cookbooks (he grew up in what is called a “food desert”).
His limited access to fresh enhancements did not deter him. Chef Shalom relayed to me a memory about reading a recipe for the classic mojito, muddled with fresh mint leaves and lime. Fresh mint seemed like a fantasy food–something from a far-off land. Indeed, to retrieve it, he’d have to venture far, hopping on the subway to Manhattan to find fresh ingredients such as this, where he also fell in love with the depths of Vietnamese cinnamon or Meyer lemons.
Instead of attempting to replicate dairy ingredients (namely milk and eggs), Chef Shalom meditated on what the ideal doughnut should taste like. Then he proceeded to lock himself in a kitchen for several weeks until he found the perfect combination that would lend itself not only to incredible texture but also transcendental flavors.
For Chef Shalom, spices are more than spices, they’re a fight: a fight for flavor, a battle for access, and most of all, a celebration of plants. It became his life mission to not just make food that was “good for plant-based” but just good.
By all measures, he has succeeded, in making the World’s Best Doughnuts that frequently sell out in the wee hours of the Lake Mary Farmer’s Market each Saturday Morning. Support Black-owned businesses by visiting the Donutste Doughnut booth at the Lake Mary’s Farmer’s Market starting at 9am every Saturday morning.
Follow Donutste Doughnuts on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/donutstedoughnuts/
This piece was originally published in The Sanford Herald.