It’s official: when CTBites runs a profile on a new foodie find in Connecticut–that chef has arrived. Unofficial but just as GOOD: when a couple hundred people stand in line for hours on a Sunday morning, starting before 8 a.m., to snatch up what you’re making–it makes you an instant legend.
That’s the story behind Hugh Mangum who has been using the kitchen at Tim LaBant‘s Wilton Center Parlor Restaurant for Rise Doughnuts, Mangum’s pop-up doughnut bakery that he launched mid-coronavirus shutdown.
Our friends at CTBites, and contributor Andrew Dominick, published a great feature on Mangum, who is moving his pop-up to LaBant’s other restaurant, The Schoolhouse at Cannondale (34 Cannon Rd.), this Sunday, Sept. 27. The GOOD news is Mangum is planning on expanding Rise with the move, offering more varieties of doughnuts and coffee, and potentially opening up beyond just Sundays.
CTBites has graciously allowed us to share the feature here (including some of their photos) and we’re also adding some pictures GOOD Morning Wilton took over the summer when we got our first taste of Rise’s heavenly bits of fried GOODness. See you early on the doughnut line this Sunday morning!
RISE Doughnuts: Pitmaster Hugh Mangum is Making Donuts in Wilton
courtesy CTBites.com, written by Andrew Dominick
At quarter to midnight on a Saturday in Wilton, the town is pitch black except for the glimmer of light coming from Tim LaBant’s Parlor. Ovens are off, they’re not making pizza, and the doors are locked. It’s where you’ll find Hugh Mangum, the chef, pitmaster, and co-founder of Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, former Chopped champion, a Jean-Georges alum, frequent judge on Beat Bobby Flay and Fire Masters, and, well, you get the idea. Mangum is beginning a sleepless overnight shift where he’s doing the opposite of what he’s known for, if making donuts and fritters for a Sunday morning pop-up is the opposite of smoking meat.
Mangum’s late-night workshop is a necessary one. He’s got lots of donut dough to make, bowls of homemade curds, creams, and glazes need whipping, and fritters require a folding of buttery, cinnamony, sugary Granny Smiths.
Before the sun rises, Mangum will be joined by his wife, Laura, and his sons Lucas and Henry. While Hugh fries and fills hundreds of donuts in the back, Laura is up front submerging fritters in glaze and coating donuts with fruit-infused sugars. Lucas and Henry are also hands-on, expediting and fulfilling customers’ orders for half dozens and dozens.
The line at this point isn’t only a few early risers. Before 8 a.m. sales begin, there’s a line down that side of the shopping center that wraps all the way around the back of locals looking to sink their teeth into freshly made donuts and piping hot fritters, just dunked in brown butter vanilla bean glaze.
If you’re salivating, no one will hold that against you, but we’ll get back to the making you crave donuts part.
The truth is, we have to rewind, because none of this was intended to happen.
It all started when the Mangums moved to Wilton in 2019.
“We’ve been here for a year,” Mangum reveals. “Wilton came up as a great place for family and the school system, so we settled here. I wasn’t looking to do anything locally, then the pandemic led to me being stuck at home.”
Mangum confesses that he got a little—or a lot—stir crazy. Donuts weren’t even an idea until his oldest son, Quinn (who Mighty Quinn’s is named after), started messing around with sourdough starter. One day, Quinn made donuts.
“Quinn made a batch of donuts at home and I had done apple cider donuts before when we ran a general store in Pennsylvania,” Mangum says. “I started playing around with recipes at home and got caught down the rabbit hole.”
The other dot to connect here is how Mangum wound up running a donut shop out of Parlor. Both Mangum and LaBant are avid cyclists that support a common charity, Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry, and the two became fast friends.
Mangum then asked if he could do a one-off donut pop-up at Parlor, to which LaBant agreed. Teaser posts from an Instagram account called “Rise Doughnuts” with cross promotion from Parlor’s IG were intended to drum up some excitement and hopefully sell a few donuts on June 7.
“I expected no one to show up, maybe sell a hundred or a two hundred max,” Mangum says with a bit of a laugh. “We sold out in 28 minutes! I had no idea what to expect because I’m used to people in New York City buying one or two, and in Wilton it was all dozens. I was caught off guard in a good way.”
Because of the response, this supposed one-time pop-up would obviously go down again. And it did.
Mangum hosted more Sunday morning donut events, all resulting in sellouts. Occasionally he’d take a weekend off because of restaurant obligations but in-between, he’d continue to learn, improve recipes, and tinker with flavor combinations. It was a return to life he was all too familiar with. He did all this at the conception of Mighty Quinn’s, smoking meat in his driveway, and selling it to astronomically long lines of hungry customers during the early days of Smorgasburg.
While smoking meat is and will always be a thing for Mangum, he’s digging the switch-up.
“I’m not claiming to be the donut guy, but I like learning, and I gravitated towards it because during the pandemic, I realized that people are looking for simple comforts,” he says. “Most people enjoy donuts and it was something I could do that wasn’t meat. Our natural instinct is to do something we’re familiar with and doing something I’m not familiar with is a challenge and it’s fun.
Mangum’s donuts—because we are back in the present—are of the lighter yeast variety. He uses quality ingredients like organic lemons for the curd, Ronnybrook Farm’s Creamline Milk in the glaze, and vanilla beans in the glaze and you’ll see flecks of it in the yeast dough.
All his experimenting has led to some staple flavors like the aforementioned brown butter vanilla bean glaze, plus cinnamon-sugar, and Connecticut (don’t call it Boston) Cream. Specials do appear, like on this particular Sunday when he made several yuku-curd filled, lime sugar-coated donuts in the 600 or so that he sold that day.
And then there are the fritters. Mangum will tell you that he’s especially proud of those, although each one is time-consuming to make. He drew inspiration from Backdoor Donuts on Martha’s Vineyard, citing that if he could get it close to those, that he’d be onto something. Each straight-out-of-the-fryer fritter takes a plunge in glaze and is served piping hot. Expect apple but peach fritters have made the menu a few times.
The hardest part for prospective donut eaters is actually getting one. There’s usually a line before 7:30, so unless you’re there early, good luck. Fritters go fast, donuts are soon thereafter.
Mangum is moving Rise to The Schoolhouse at Cannondale beginning September 27. For now, Rise will remain one day per week on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. with increased donut numbers. At some point it may exand to 2-3 days per week. Online pre-ordering will eventually be possible when there is a website in place to do so.
The donut and fritter menu will be around six total flavors or so, plus fresh roasted coffee by way of Mangum’s friends at Folk City Roasters and a weekend treat in the form of hot fritters topped off with ice cream from The Bent Spoon.
With Rise’s expansion, Mangum’s roots in the community have grown, too, and he’s happy to be here. “The community here has been awesome, and I’m stoked to be a part of it,” he says. “Tim has especially been great opening up Parlor to me, and his family instantly made my family feel like this is home.”
If you’ve been shut out from getting your hands on a box of Mangum’s donuts, there’s hope because Rise is about to grow!