Photos by Rochelle Li, Words by Nandini Ahuja
On a particularly lovely, windless evening a few weeks back, TasteBUds editors Taylor, Cat and Nandini received a text from photo editor Ro that read: “Stephanie Cmar’s Donuts at Mei Mei April 13th. You in?” Yeah. They were most definitely in.
Cmar was a contestant on both seasons 10 and 11 of Bravo TV’s hugely popular Top Chef. Although she did not win either time, she went on to become sous-chef at Boston’s No. 9 Park and is now the founder of her very own company, Stacked Donuts. Cmar is a Boston native and her donuts have caused somewhat of craze at locations all around the city from the South End to our very own South campus.
The morning of April 13th was light grey and rainy. Taylor and Nandini met at 9 a.m. to walk from West campus to the pop-up at Mei Mei together.
“Do you think we’re going to get in? We aren’t late, are we?” Taylor asked.
“No, it opens at 10, right? I don’t even think a lot of people know about this,” Nandini answered confidently.
They reached Mei Mei at 9:20 AM and found a line of about 20 people out the door and wrapped around the building. It was full of students, families and a couple of curious individuals who wanted to know what lay ahead at the head of the line.
“We’re not going to get any donuts,” Nandini frowned.
Just when the hungry editors had lost all hope, they received a phone call from Editor-in-Chief, Cat.
“We’re in. We bought the doughnuts. Let’s eat!”
Taylor and Nandini pushed through an excitable crowd and found Cat and Ro with three plump donuts and one adorably decorated pop-tart.
At this specific pop-up, Cmar decided to bake blueberry, green tea, and cookies-and-cream donuts. Trademark Tarts, created by Justin Burke-Samson, provided the birthday cake pop-tart. Cmar and Burke-Samson are partnering to form Party of Two, a confectionary company. Before they could discuss Cmar’s business savvy, however, the editors just needed to eat.
The donuts were fat and filling, exactly what they all needed early on a Sunday. All four editors agreed that cookies-and-cream was the best flavored of the donuts. It paired well with Mei Mei’s pour over coffee. The pop-tart was sweet and full of cherry filling, a pastry fit to satisfy any sweet tooth.
While petting their bellies and chatting each other up, the editors were approached by Mia Scharphie and Gabe Fine, founders of Black Trumpet, a new pop-up company. They plan to stage pop-ups in interesting new locations with unique food themes, starting with Szechuan cuisine. The Charles and Lynn Schustermann Philanthropic Network interviewed the duo after they won a $1000 #MakeItHappen micro grant. When asked what change they’d like to see in the world, they answered, “I think we both really believe that the way full-time work and family/pleasure/community time are distributed, is not optimal. We would both like to see a work week which focuses on community creation and personal enjoyment as well as professional considerations.” Promising to contact the editors if they ever had an event for TasteBUds to cover, they left, reminding the ladies how serendipitous it was to meet pop-up creators at a pop-up.
Pop-ups are temporary, require no rent, and have a quick clean up. Stacked Donuts has been successfully making a name for itself as one, bringing business to the locations it uses, creating an event out of selling its products.
Have pop-ups become the new food trucks? In the past five years, food trucks have been everywhere. They’ve been parked outside out our classes. They’ve been rolling into the parking lots behind food festivals. They’ve been topping food guides on major websites. Will pop-ups soon be doing the same? TasteBUds is interested in investigating them further and getting together to munch on delicious food for “work.” No one said being an editor is easy, but it’s what they love, and they will sacrifice for their passion.