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Doughnut Tasting with Chef Rags at Cartems

Doughnut Tasting with Chef Rags at Cartems

As a city that loves coffee, Vancouver knows how important it is to find the perfect coffee break snack. While some opt for scones, muffins, or cookies, doughnuts definitely rank high as one of the city’s favourite coffee companions.

Cartems Donuterie, a fixture of East Vancouver, may have created the one gourmet donut that rules them all. Handmade with high quality and locally sourced ingredients, these donuts are made fresh every day without stabilizers or preservatives. With a regular menu that can always be counted on being available, Cartems also offers a seasonal menu that keeps their loyal customers coming back again and again for one of their delicious creations.

In celebration of their fourth year in business, Executive Chef Rags recently hosted a four course doughnut centered tasting event at the Cartems Pender Street location. The theme of the tasting event was, “Around the World,” and took the guests on a culinary journey inspired by Africa, France, England, and Asia.

Cartems Donuterie

The first appetizer was an African vegetable fritter with a lentil mint salad punctuated by an apricot mango chutney. While fried, the vegetable fritter didn’t taste dry at all and had a similar texture to falafel. The chutney as well as the mint in the salad brought a refreshing, sweet, and overall bright flavour to the dish.

Cartems Donuterie

Next up was a spicy mushroom consommé with shiitake mushrooms and an apple and fennel dumpling inspire by French cuisine. The soup, while very fragrant, wasn’t too salty and had a flavour profile similar to a French onion soup.

Cartems Donuterie

For the main course, Chef Rags served an English inspired deep fried beef wellington with a red wine demi-glace sauce and a mushroom ragu paired with a glass of local merlot. The donut pastry that was used in the wellington was rich and flaky in texture without any greasiness. Although the red demi-glace sauce was a little on the salty side, it was delicious and went well with the wellington and mushroom ragu.

Cartems Donuterie

Last but not least, came the Asian cuisine inspired dessert. Dressed in exotic fruits, edible flowers, and a single scoop of black sesame ice cream, were two delicious Cartems donuts. Perfectly balanced, gorgeously presented, and paired with a local port, this dish was the perfect way to finish off the meal.

Incredibly satisfied after the four course meal, I had a chance to sit down with Chef Rags to talk about the depth of the Cartems community, his inspiration for the donut tasting events, and what he has planned for the future. Check out our interview with the incredibly generous and talented chef below.

Please introduce yourself

My name is Chef Rags; I’m the executive chef and part owner of Cartems Donuterie.

I remember Cartems first started their business out of a small kitchen in Gastown around Hastings and Carrall. How long did you end up operating out of that space for?

Actually over a year! Because we first started the pop-up space in Febraury of 2012, closed that space in September 2013, and opened up here [on Pender and Seymour] October 23, 2013.

Cartems Donuterie

Right, and you just opened another location in Mount Pleasant just last summer correct?

Yeah, we’re at Main street now too at 2190 Main Street; just at Main and 6th.

So pretty much this entire donut tasting event was created for the Cartems community. Can you tell us about them?

I don’t think I could pigeon hole the Cartems community into one faction. There are so many different types of people in our community and they do so many different things; we just want to reach out to as many people as possible and do so through donuts.

I feel like a lot of the events that you host through Cartems, like this tasting event and the Thursday evening cypher nights for example, are all extensions of your own personality and interests.

Yes, absolutely. We also just started an open mic night at our Main Street location, host art shows every other month at the Pender Street location, and have a ton of other fun events coming soon.

Cartems Donuterie

Tell us about your inspiration behind this donut tasting event

I’m ridiculously passionate about food; this is my life. I’m very fortunate to be able to do the thing that I love and make a living at the same time. What I really wanted to do with this tasting event was to open up to the community that we’ve developed; the people who’ve been loyal to us and have shown us a lot of love over the four years that we’ve been open. Because my business partner and myself, we put our lives into this. It’s a business, but at the same time it truly is an extension of who we are as individuals.

Four years, congratulations! So last question, what do you have planned for the next donut tasting event?

I know the next one I’m going to be doing is gonna be a farm to table concept, I can’t wait!

Follow Cartems Donuterie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with all the new events they have going on and check out the Facebook event for their next donut tasting event with Chef Rags.

Vanessa Tam

All photos by: Jeremy Wong

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