By Brenlee Coates
It’s been a long time coming for Winnipeg.
“There’s a hole, and I’m going to fill it,” deadpans Amanda Kinden, the one-woman show that’s been titillating our taste buds with the city’s first truly gourmet doughnuts.
Up until recently, Amanda’s been frying the dozens of Oh Doughnuts three at a time in a pot, waking up at one in the morning to prep for the morning rush at Parlour Coffee, the once-exclusive retailer for her doughnuts.
In November, Amanda was able to get a doughnut fryer up and running, increasing her production, and she welcomed her first assistant baker: her mother. Because of this, she is now able to expand her offerings to Little Sister Coffee Maker and Thom Bargen, who had been patiently waiting their turn even though customers were coming in and asking when they’d become available there daily.
She hopes to continue working with these specialty coffee shops long-term, though her end goal is to have a brick-and-mortar shop of her own. “Ideally, I would have a storefront downtown,” she says. “There’s also potential for one in Osborne Village.”
Amanda is a long way from her roots in environmental studies – “I had a nice job in my field that people shouldn’t ever give up, but I’m about taking risks in my life,” says Amanda, smirking.
She attempted to juggle the two tasks for a time, but it proved impossible. “I just realized that waking up at one in the morning just turned my brain to mush,” she says.
Though it wasn’t something she’d flagged as a career option, she was a longtime, dedicated cook. “Cooking is an obsession,” she says. “Since I’m (making) doughnuts all day, I’m craving savoury, so I just do the opposite when I get home.”
She credits her mother for nurturing her baking skills. “When I was young, I used to bake with my mom at Christmas,” she says. She has a modest sense of humour about her newfound success as a self-taught baker: “For me, I read the recipe and the recipe does the work. But there are legitimately those who can’t do that.
“I just spend a lot of time looking for ideas.”
She is definitely never short on creative flavour combinations and experimental recipes to try out. Recently, she successfully came out with a root beer float doughnut – and she has an ever-popular caramel salted pretzel concoction.
Aside from the exuberant options, she usually has a rotating roster of sugar doughnuts with fruit curd filling, or a soft glaze like lavender or rose water.
The doughnuts are a decadent treat to start the day off right, and they’ve been met with serious demand: the doughnuts regularly sell out well before noon.
Amanda once considered opening a vegetarian restaurant, due to her disappointment with the lack of options in this niche. She’s catered to vegan and gluten-free options with her doughnuts on various occasions, though without mass production capabilities, she has to choose select days to offer them.
Luckily, she’s carved out an attentive following on social media, where she announces the daily flavours in the early hours of the morning when she’s finished work. This grassroots approach to marketing her business has driven demand for her eventual shop – and pushed it beyond her current capacity.
In the interim, she’s preparing the doughnuts at Knox Community Kitchen, which provides licensed commercial kitchen space to renters at an affordable rate. The kitchen is designed to help food entrepreneurs get their business off the ground, and to create a community near Central Park by hosting an indoor market twice a month with its gathering of vendors.
“I’m the only one who’s there every day… but I’ve been joking that I should make a sitcom about the characters who are using the kitchen,” says Amanda.
She is certainly happy when she does have company on those graveyard shifts. “The getting up early is not forever,” she says. “This is good for now.”