Food Network doughnut-off highlights Dough delicacies

Watch Tampa's Dough compete on Food Network Canada's Donut Showdown Jan. 8.

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click to enlarge King and Contes (middle) battled on Donut Showdown, which airs Thursday. - Djamel Photography
Djamel Photography
King and Contes (middle) battled on Donut Showdown, which airs Thursday.

Since Dough, Datz's younger sibling and next-door neighbor in South Tampa, has only been slinging its baked sweets for a year and a half, general manager Tina Contes said she didn't expect the shop to land a spot on Food Network Canada's Donut Showdown.

But it did.

Contes told CL Tuesday that she had to keep the bakery's participation in the 30-minute TV series a secret for 14 months.

Showdown, which airs to the region via the Cooking Channel, pits three doughnut gurus against each other to see who crafts the best trendy treat.

A rotating lineup of judges like celebrity kitchen masters Elizabeth Falkner and Duff Goldman is showcased. But there's a catch: competitors must get creative with how they use the show's mystery ingredients. 

Seaweed and strawberry syrup were highlighted on a previous Showdown. And Contes, alongside Datz chef Andy King, incorporated bourbon into her picnic-themed episode's creation.

Contes said the pair, who traveled to Toronto for filming, prepped, for months, by making doughnuts with random ingredients.

"You can't prepare for that sort of pressure, though," she added.

While Contes has been cooking and baking for 18 years, she said she's never competed in anything like Showdown, and wanted to get out of her comfort zone. She described the experience as "exciting and surreal."

During the competition, Dough's doughnut recipe was developed by "thinking about what notes were in the bourbon, and pulling from the flavor profiles."

"Creating a doughnut is like creating a dish," Contes said.

Showdown features two rounds per show. However, Dough can't say whether it qualified for the second battle or not, according to Contes. That is, not until after its episode airs at 9 p.m. Thursday. 

And when the bakery opens its doors at 6:30 a.m. Friday, it'll offer patrons one free treat — the bourbon-inspired doughnut from the show — while supplies last.

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