For those die-hard donut lovers who can’t help but cradle a box close enough to sniff out which flavors mingle inside, the donut bouquet was made for you.
This creative repackaging of a typical box of donuts comes from Mayly Tao, a local pastry pioneer and co-owner of DK’s Donuts & Bakery in Santa Monica who recently launched her own donut delivery and catering service that borrows her nickname, Donut Princess.
Tao’s donut bouquets are carefully arranged in a manner loosely resembling their floral counterparts. Three or more decorated donuts are placed atop long-stemmed sticks, nestled in a colorful bed of neatly crumpled paper, wrapped in a burlap cloth, and tied together with a delicate bow. The bundle is then bejeweled with a custom Donut Princess logo pin and sealed in a fanciful gift box with velvet ribbons. You can also include a message for a more personal touch.
Donuts for the bouquets are chosen to create an explosion of colors and tastes. A typical arrangement includes flavors such as white chocolate, cream cheese frosting, blue velvet, red velvet, dark chocolate ganache, passion fruit jelly, and raspberry cheesecake.
“The donut was originally just a breakfast food,” said Tao, regarding the pastry’s evolution. “Now, it’s treated as a gift item.”
Tao saw an opportunity to meet growing demand for unique food gifts in LA, and donut bouquets seemed like the next logical step for her business. “You can create a conversation about this donut bouquet,” said Tao, acknowledging that its charmingly edible presentation makes it a more shareable, social experience than receiving flowers.
“I love getting roses, every girl does,” she said. “But to receive flowers in a different form that involves food? That also appeals to a girl.”
The Donut Princess moniker reflects Tao’s familial ties to local donut royalty. Her great uncle, Ted Ngoy, earned the nickname Doughnut King of California in the ‘80s for acquiring dozens of shops throughout the state. As a Cambodian immigrant with a growing empire, he was able to bring on relatives and employ refugee families that fled to the United States to escape the Khmer Rouge violence. Tao’s parents started running the Santa Monica location of DK’s Donuts & Bakery in 1980 and turned it into a success. Tao remembers standing on a milk crate to assist her parents in the shop when she was seven years old.
“Instead of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings, I was with them in the shop,” she said.
After graduating from University of California San Diego in 2012 with a degree in communications, Tao returned to DK’s with a goal to reinvent the bakery for an age of insatiable Instagram foodies actively seeking out the next dessert icon.
DK’s Donuts & Bakery made local and national headlines for being the first West Coast shop to create its own donut-croissant hybrid, which they now call the O-nut. Other hits that followed include the purple-colored Ube Donut, a waffle-donut hybrid called the Wow-nut, and the Galaxy Donut, which resembles a photo of deep space with the help of some cosmic-colored icing.
“I’m here showing that donuts are not outdated,” she said. “Donuts are cool!”
Tao started Donut Princess LA in 2017 to bring more tailored options to the vast population of donut aficionados. In addition to bouquets, her company assembles stylishly packaged curated boxes and designs letter-shaped donuts to spell out custom greetings such as “happy birthday.” Donut Princess also caters corporate events, weddings, and most recently, special menus at local microbreweries.
“Pairing beer with donuts is popular now,” said Tao. She predicts that the next stage in this trend could bring the start of donut and wine pairing parties, so she’s developing a cheese flavored donut just in case.
Donut Princess bouquets can be ordered online or by phone at 323-675-6001. Bouquet options include the classic trio ($20), six donuts ($35), mini donuts ($35), a six-donut Valentine’s Day bouquet ($45), and custom built bouquets (price varies). Bouquets can be delivered locally the same day for an extra charge or picked up at the Donut Princess kitchen facility near downtown Los Angeles (1842 W. Washington Blvd.). For orders outside of Los Angeles, Donut Princess can also ship nationwide overnight.