'I Do-nut:' Local donut cart debuts on the weddin' scene


For most brides-to-be, planning a budget means allocating the most funds to the reception– while the most important part of the Big Day may be the ceremony, the most memorable part is often the reception. And why not? The food, the music, the dancing, the food, the favors, the food– more often than not, the guests will look back lovingly at the vows and longingly at the petit crab cakes and bacon-wrapped scallops.

But gone are the days of cliche cocktail hors d'oeuvres and a standard three-tiered raspberry butterscotch wedding cake– numerous new options flood the realm of wedding food. According to Carpe Donut founder and pastry innovator Matt Rohdie, wedding food is now open to new interpretation. For those with a sweet tooth, the growing trend of buffet dessert bars mean that the treats served at the end of the night have limitless possibilities. And for recent Charlottesville newlyweds, calling in Rohdie's red donut cart is the perfect way to say "I do" to dessert.

"People do get a little beyond where their own comfort zone is for how fancy [food] can be– an event we did at Keswick was having foie gras peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, for example," Rohdie says. "When you've reached the point of your menu getting that baroque, it's satisfying to close the whole event down with a food that's not taking itself too seriously."

Both a former caterer and a social worker for 15 years, Rohdie has found a way to combine two loves into one– much like the couples who are attracted to his mobile "micro-catering." Looking for a simple, economically sustainable, yet sumptuous catering option, Rohdie and his wife Jen experimented with various foods before settling upon and perfecting an organic donut recipe. Bringing his product to the street, Rohdie discovered an untapped desire in town for an easily accessible, "cute" dining option.

"Donuts have a uniquely American element and is a very industrial food– machines were invented early on to allow one person to make 1,000 donuts in one afternoon," he says. "My wife's vision was that if you make the cart cute, visually appealing, people will love it."

Love for Carpe Donut has expanded from occasional street-side vending to high demand wedding treat. Rohdie offers a wide variety of catering options– from a mere coffee service, with java, cider, and endless donuts to a full-service breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, and, yes, donuts– at prices and precision sometimes overlooked by larger catering companies.

"Folks hiring us for weddings bring us in to do a component of dessert that they don't have to get from a traditional caterer," Rohdie says. "I spent one and a half years on that donut recipe, put energy into making them exceptional, but what I really like is interacting with people."

Finishing up its second full calendar year in business, Carpe Donut began attracting the attention of wedding planners and imaginative brides in 2008. The first few weddings spread the concept further– and Rohdie began trekking with his red cart for weddings throughout the state,  reporting that there's no upper limit to how far he will drive. And while the novelty of having freshly made donuts available for guests may now be a norm, Rohdie has even gone so far as to craft full-fledged wedding cakes out of donuts for more adventurous brides– complete with a double donut on top for the couple to break.

While for Rohdie the expansion of culinary tastes translates into a new arena for wedding desserts, it also allows a couple to symbolize their unique relationship– or just provide an extra treat for over-danced guests– by embracing a new standard bearer for stereotypically predictable wedding fare.

"It is still a donut, it's not trying to be anything else," Rohdie warns. "At some events when things have gone kooky with the food, this is the opportunity to settle things down at the end with something totally recognizable."

Push aside the pies, cookies, and lemon bars– the artisan yet homey style of Carpe Donut has recently become the favored night cap after local couples tie the knot.