Stuck at level four, the people of Auckland smash fried dough balls in their faces like never before. Chris Schulz tries to get his hands on one.
When Daniel Black starts to list the flavors of his filled donuts, I tell him to shut up. He doesn’t listen. âWe’re making Belgian chocolate mousse and raspberry cheesecake,â Black explains. âThere is vanilla cream. We make a crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e that has a coating of crispy caramelized sugar.
When I start to laugh maniacally, Black says something that almost rocks me, “There’s passion fruit curd that comes with a toasted marshmallow meringue on top.” It sounds so good, but each of those words feels like a fist hitting my face.
This is because Black’s donuts are incredibly difficult to obtain. From their base in Henderson, Daniel and his partner Annie offer a rotating menu of 70 different flavors, all fresh, handmade and without preservatives. Since they started offering one week deliveries up to level four, they’ve sold out every time.
Tired of lockdown, stuck at home, unable to get take-out and sick of eating their own bad cooking, the Aucklanders make their way through balls of deep fried, cream-filled, home-delivered dough like never before. . âIt’s the ultimate comfort food,â says Black. “They desperately need it.”
Black has clear proof of this. Every time he opens the Grownup Donuts website for orders, they sell out within minutes. Some order a dozen at a time; others are orders from companies wanting to handle staff working from home. They’re at full capacity: bakers arrive at 3 a.m. to start preparing up to 200 orders containing 1,500 donuts, and drivers show up at sunrise to start delivering them.
They hired extra help, rented more vans, and hauled their delicious, sweet treats to Silverdale and Takanini. âIt’s a bit of a logistical challenge,â says Black, who says they stick to the alert level rules by keeping teams at bay and in bubbles. “We are very busy.” The only place Grown Up Donuts hasn’t delivered, looks like, is my house.
They are at the maximum, and they are not the only ones. For Father’s Day recently, Isabel Pasch’s Bread & Butter Bakery in Gray Lynn gave away a pack of limited edition donuts of Chocolate Hazelnut Praline, Salted Caramel Pear and Mascarpone. They came in boxes of four that cost $ 30 each. She had room to make 100.
âWe put them on our online store Wednesday morning and they were all gone by Wednesday afternoon,â says Pasch. Lots of people passed by and they didn’t mind talking about it. âWe were absolutely bombarded with people who were like, ‘Argh! Why can’t I order the donut box? “
Due to this demand, Pasch has given her boxes of donuts every weekend since, and they continue to sell. The flavors of this weekend are passion fruit meringue and blueberry mascarpone. When I checked her online store, she wrote this message: âThe boxes of donuts will continue as long as we are locked up. What else is there to hope for? “
Pasch thinks they could easily sell more, but they don’t have the workspace or the staff to do so. As it stands, a team of three bakers arrive at 2 a.m. so that deliveries can begin at 7 a.m. âThere seems to be a lot of donut hunger out there,â she says.
Why this sudden rush? âThey just want something fancy to have fun and something that will kick endorphins up a notch,â says Pasch. âNot much is going on right now. She thinks donuts can affect people in other ways. “Maybe it’s a good mental health thing that we need to keep going.”
Black agrees. Despite their lack of availability which puts me in a dark state of mind, he thinks a donut filled with Belgian chocolate mousse is a change of mood. âThere are people who isolate themselves. They are worried and stressed about Covid-19 and whether they could have it or not (and) they are given a box of donuts waiting for them at the door, âhe says.
âIt’s a positive point for their day. We have received so many messages saying, âThey are the highlight of our day, week or even month. “
When the country was first confined, Grace Tauber and Shenine Dube, the owners of Gray Lynn’s little pink donut store, Doe, decided to take orders one day a week. âWe hesitated. There was a lot of uncertainty, âsays Dube. âWe wanted to be careful.
Sitting at home, retrieving data from her phone to counter the questionable wifi, Dube opened Doe’s website for orders. Nestled between a battery store and a panelbeaters, Doe is just a small company with a staff of four. By following the alert level rules, they can cook and deliver a maximum of 500 donuts per day.
In 20 minutes they were full. âWe had 500 people on our website at a time trying to order, trying to verify,â she says. “It was such a mess.” Dube tried to shut down the website, but his data was exhausted. Orders kept coming in. âI couldn’t stop it,â she said.
They had learned a hard lesson. “That day we had to do a lot more (donuts) than we were supposed to do.”
The founders of Doe are now open three days a week and offer their Pacific Island Infused Donuts, with flavors like pineapple pie, peaches and cream and Caramilk among their most popular. They’re in the kitchen at 6 a.m., and when they get home at night, there’s paperwork to do, emails to sort through, and messages to reply to.
Even with Auckland’s alert levels about to change, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the donut frenzy. It’s something the duo behind Doe are banking on. âSometimes I’m afraid to say it out loud because it happened with cupcakes – it was such an important thing and no one really hears about it anymore,â says Tauber. âButâ¦ there are so many different flavors you can create with donuts. I feel like people will always love them.
Can’t they just sneak me an extra order? Uh no. They’ve stopped telling people when their website will be open for business and are turning down pleading posts like mine that land through Instagram and Facebook. Like places in New Zealand’s MIQ facilities, to get your hands on Doe donuts all you need to do is keep refreshing.
My search for containment donuts will have to wait another day. âThere are no secret orders unless you are family or friends,â confirms Dube. She feels bad about turning down customers, but they just can’t take their orders. They are just too busy. âWe want to take a million orders. We just can’t do it physically.
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