Doh'hut Leeds: Meet the donut connoisseur whose recipe has wowed Michelin-star chefs

On a road trip down America's west coast, Tom Stafford came up with an idea that was undeniably British.

Saturday, 9th July 2022, 4:30 pm

Inspired by the street food trucks he found along his journey, Tom vowed to set up a food business of his own as soon as he touched down in Leeds.

Drawing on childhood memories of eating hot donuts on the beach, the 29-year-old spotted a gap in the market for the sugary treats - and Doh'hut was born.

"We were eating lots of street food and speaking to people who were super passionate," Tom told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Tom Stafford, 29, is the founder of award-winning Doh'hut (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

"It was like tasting people’s stories. I made the decision there and then that I was going to do a street food truck.

“I was trying to find something that was British, nostalgic and fun.

"You can often find churros and Dutch pancakes, but no one was doing something that was a very British thing.”

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The donut shop offers four core fillings - raspberry jam, lemon cream meringue, chocolate ganache and vanilla creme patisserie (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

Tom grew up in Hull before moving to Leeds to study music production when he was 18.

After working as a snowboard teacher in Canada and embarking on his US road trip, Tom settled back in Leeds in 2015 and started forming a plan for his business, with his friends and family enjoying many a taste test.

A year after forming his plan, Tom had crafted the perfect recipe, settled on the Doh'hut name and started to book in small events.

He soon got a residency in the Corn Exchange and took the business full time, investing in a food truck so he could make his donuts fresh at events.

While the business was still in its infancy, Doh'hut was crowned champion of the national British Street Food Awards, getting high praise from Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan.

“I couldn’t believe it," Tom said.

“That’s why we decided to do the bricks and mortar. It gave me the confidence that we had a product good enough to put the investment into renting a shop.”

The Doh'hut shop opened on Trevelyan Square in January 2020.

There are just four fillings in the core range, with a nod to the packets of donuts Tom loved at university - raspberry jam, lemon cream meringue, chocolate ganache and vanilla creme patisserie.

"Simplicity is always best when it’s executed perfectly," Tom added.

"It’s simple, great ingredients - and there’s a science behind making and baking the perfect donut. They’re not easy to make.”

Doh'hut was transformed into a grocery shop and deli during lockdown, selling a bunch of low-cost vegetables and groceries, alongside boxes of donuts and sandwiches.

And now workers have returned to nearby offices, Doh'hut's following is growing by the day.

There are plans for expansion on the horizon; Tom teased at a new sandwich shop, although the details are under wraps for now.

While Tom has always believed in his brand, he's been stunned by the support from customers across the city - and he praised his hard-working staff for helping bring his dream to life.

"I believed I would have a successful business and I want to have many Doh'huts across the country and across the world one day," he added.

"But it has all happened a lot quicker than I thought it would.

"I think we’ve got something really special.”