All smiles at Donut Fest
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Five-month-old George Sandler — strapped to his dad’s chest — wasn’t fazed by the doughnut crumbs that tumbled onto his thin head of hair.
“We’re getting the kids addicted to glazed doughnuts early,” joked Gabe Sandler, 33, as he took another bite.
It was all good. No one judges at Donut Fest.
Unless you’re actually a judge.
The culinary resumes for jurists gathered at the sixth annual event Sunday morning at the Chop Shop bar and restaurant in Wicker Park were world renowned. And then there was the Chicago cop who rounded out the group.
“I’m here for the tongue-in-cheek humor because I’m a cop,” said the officer, who asked not to be named but had no qualms about the typecasting.
Eleven doughnut purveyors offered samples to approximately 1,000 attendees.
Juan Gutierrez, pastry chef at Longman & Eagle in Logan Square, estimated someone would have to eat four of his bourbon-spritzed doughnuts to get a buzz. He lovingly sprayed each doughnut with a little blue bottle filled with booze.
He also sometimes sprayed it into his own mouth.
“I can’t do it often, though,” he said. “I’m a light weight.”
Attendees adhering to New Year’s diets commonly landed on the words “cheat day” while explaining their presence.
The conscience-easing catchphrase has justified Steven Balderas’ doughnut passion for years.
Balderas, 27, a former body builder, punctuated a strict diet with doughnuts. Somewhere along the way he started taking pictures and blogging about it.
“They’re hard to make at home. And they’re a blank canvas,” said Balderas, whose main job title is nuclear engineer.
“We always get several doughnut influencers,” said fest founder Rebecca Skoch, who retreated to a quiet spot for a brief chat.
“Did you see the woman in there with the doughnut cape on?” she asked.
For the record, the winner of the crowd favorite category was the glazed doughnut served up by D&D’s Place, 8324 S. Kedzie Ave.
The judges handed top honor to the potato doughnut served up by Downstate Doughnuts, which can be found at Rewired Cafe locations in Lakeview and Edgewater.