CLARE, MI — Clare-based Cops & Doughnuts, which sells sweet treats in seven Michigan counties and attracted nearly 350,000 customers last year, competed in a recently aired episode of the Cooking Channel's "Donut Showdown" and won.
Dave Wittenbach, a pastry chef and the lead baker at Cops & Doughnuts, and Katie Nice, who was the diner manager when the episode was filmed in February, represented the bakery in the TV competition and are splitting the $10,000 prize, said Greg "Ryno" Rynearson, co-owner and president of Cops & Doughnuts.
"(Dave) plans on having it help fund his daughter's wedding that he had this summer," Rynearson said.
A blurb on cookingchanneltv.com describes the show as follows:
Donut Showdown takes the donut to epicurean heights. Donuts are the new cupcakes — the latest trendy treat. Each episode sees three of the best donut makers from across North America test their creativity in our diner kitchen.
According to a description of the episode, "Shipwrecked," which aired at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, Wittenbach competed against "an artisanal foodie from Toronto" and a "donut-maker's mum from Charleston, South Carolina."
About 200 Cops & Doughnuts fans attended a viewing party at The Venue, formerly Mill End Store, at 501 N. McEwan, in downtown Clare, Friday night to cheer the bakery on.
Rynearson said Wittenbach's "driftwood doughnut" — a long john filled with coconut cream, topped with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut and cut to look like driftwood — was a hit with the judges.
"That's the one that they all liked," he said.
Rynearson said the shipwreck-inspired treat soon will be available, in limited quantities, at the bakery.
Before the episode aired, Wittenbach and Nice couldn't tell anyone they won.
"We didn't know until it aired," Rynearson said. "None of his family knew either, not even his spouse. He couldn't tell anyone, and he didn't."
The following message from Wittenbach was posted on the Cops & Doughnuts Facebook page after the episode aired:
To everyone who has been pulling for Katie Nice and I to do well at Donut Showdown and watching the competition on Cooking Channel and then congratulating us on our win, I say THANK YOU! It was worth all the consternation of not being able to divulge the results for the last 7 months. Watching the show with my wife and children (and about 200 other fanatics at the Venue in Clare) was one of the greatest experiences of my adult life and the top experience of my professional career. The crowd at The Venue was fantastic and their reactions at every turn in the show were exhilarating! I'm thanking God for His goodness to us and I am grateful for all of you.
A high five and a hug go to Katie Nice for her competitive nature and attention to detail. Nice work (no pun intended).
What a great night!!
As of Monday, Sept. 22, the episode had aired multiple times in the United States and Canada, Rynearson said.
"We're pretty excited. We're going to get a lot of exposure," he said.
Cops & Doughnuts is self described as 100 percent cop-owned.
The bakery's confections are available in Saginaw, Midland, Gratiot, Isabella, Clare, Roscommon and Gladwin counties.
The menu posted on the Cops & Doughnuts website lists doughnut varieties, including cream, peanut butter, custard and chocolate custard long johns, blueberry, strawberry and lemon bismarcks, and the "Bacon Squealer" — an unfilled long john with maple frosting and two strips of bacon.
Aside from doughnuts, Cops & Doughnuts offers fresh-baked breads, cookies, turnovers, coffee and more.
Learn more at www.copsdoughnuts.com.