One of my first food stories living in New York was that of the Doughnut Man, Mark Isreal. He is the owner of the world-famous Doughnut Plant, featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Ugly Betty, Regis and Kelly, Emeril Live, Food Network Dish, CBS Sunday Morning and more. Back when I met him, he made doughnuts in his basement and then delivered them by bike to gourmet grocers. I thought he would be a great article for a food magazine, so I went to Dean and DeLuca on Prince and Broadway where his doughnuts were featured at the time. The manager there gave me his number, so I called Mark to schedule an interview. We were going to meet at the front section of Dean and DeLuca where the coffee shop is. I got there early and watched as every man matching Mark’s description came in through the doors. One man looked like him, so I asked him, “Are you Mark?” The man said no. He happened to be with the actor Eric Stoltz. Eric smiled at me, and he said to his friend something like, “Yes, man, you are Mark.” Well I was flattered Eric found me attractive enough to say that. However, the man and him left. I did have to interview Mark same place, same time the next day, and said man came in again and I told him I had found Mark. He wasn’t too impressed.
I did, however, interview Mark and sampled his wonderful, light-as-air doughnut creations. His doughnuts were unique because he was using fresh, seasonal ingredients for his glazes. I loved the surprise of seeing what new flavor he would create next. Now he has created the square filled doughnut which is pure genius to this jelly-doughnut-loving girl.
After my interview, I pitched my idea on Mark to every food magazine and New York related magazine. They all rejected the idea. I then decided to use the angle of small business and sent it to business magazines. Rejections. I learned a good New York lesson with this article, as months later, a piece about the Doughnut Man popped up in a majority of the publications I had previously pitched. My friends sent me cut-outs, and said, “Here’s an article on the Doughnut guy you interviewed.” They didn’t realize my idea had been used, and I had been bypassed for a regular writer. Live and learn!
Ten years later, I still love Mark’s doughnuts. I have not tried the Tres Leches doughnut, but the Blackout doughnut has to be one of my favorites. I assume it’s named after Blackout Cake, as anyone from the New York area remembers the famed Ebinger’s Blackout Cake. (I never had it, but Entenmann’s made a darn good one too and so do I!) By the way, the Blackout doughnut is, apparently, a trademarked doughnut.