Waylynn Lucas is a name more people are getting to know. The pastry chef had already made a name for herself in the L.A. food scene — working for several big-name restaurants, serving as executive pastry chef under Jose Andres at the Bazaar. In 2011, she went out on her own, opening West Hollywood-based Fonuts, the West 3rd Street doughnut shop she owns with Nancy Truman.
It only seemed logical to add Bravo reality star to the trajectory — "Ha! I don’t know about that," Lucas said during a recent mid-morning sit-down at Fonuts. Lucas is one of five ladies on Bravo’s newest reality series "Eat Drink Love," which serves up a look at the goings-on of the women in and (not really) outside the L.A. food scene.
The series has sparked some talk among those connected to foodie culture, particularly how it might be giving the L.A. food world a bad name. An argument Lucas didn't shoot down.
"To be totally honest and frank, I can absolutely, 100% see their argument," she said in part of the interview that was posted on Show Tracker. "And it makes me sad that it is that way on the show because I love the show, I love being a part of the show. But I think, unfortunately, TV is TV and there needs to be a certain amount of drama when it's based around five women. It's not solely based around the food industry; it's also based on single women and dating lives and social lives, and seeing how in this industry of food and drinks we live our lives. So, it does make me a little sad that the L.A. food scene is represented like this because I think there is so much more to it."
Here's more on Lucas' Fonut habits, plans for expanding the gluten-free, vegan doughnut empire, and the staying away from the Cronut craze.
How often do you have a Fonut?
I have a Fonut at least a few times a week. The first six months of it opening, I was living, eating, breathing, sleeping here. I realized that my diet consisted solely of Fonuts, Scotch and coffee. I would drink coffee all day, and I would go home crying because I was so exhausted and then drink Scotch, fall asleep and do it all over again. I started realizing, 'Wow, no wonder I don't feel so great and gained weight." So now I try to do it in moderation. But they are impossible to resist. As a pastry chef, I usually would never eat anything that I made -- in part, because I am tasting it all day long and you kind of get sick of things from being around it so much. The weirdest thing with the Fonuts, I don’t know if it's because we have so many different flavors and options, but I have not gotten sick of them yet.
Do you have a favorite flavor — or is that like asking a mother to choose a kid? Please choose a kid. Mine is Blueberry Earl Grey. I want to write a love letter to it.
That one is truly magical. It’s so delicious. I absolutely love it. But in a weird way, the one that is my go-to Fonut that I always eat -- that everyone catches me sneaking into the back to demolish -- is the cinnamon sugar. It’s our classic yeast-raised dough, which a lot of people don't like. I can understand why because it is a much different yeast and it's not as sweet and the dough itself is kind of bread-like. But I like it for that reason -- that it's not as sweet and it's something about it. I grew up eating cinnamon toast as a kid and it just has that comforting feel for me, so I love it.
I have to ask, because I can’t go a week without seeing someone tweet their first experience with it: What do you think of the Cronut?
I think it's a great idea. I think a croissant is genius and amazing and I think that when you fry it and fill it with something and put something on top of it, you really can't go wrong -- except, I don't think I could really eat a whole one. Essentially, a Cronut is fried butter. So I'm sure it's absolutely delicious, but one or two bites might be it for me. But it's fun. I mean, I took the doughnut and put a modern spin on it. Obviously, chef Dominique Ansel is doing the same thing. If it tastes good, and people like it, go for it. I think the food world right now is more inventive than it's ever been because there is so much attention and so many eyes on the food world right now. We've come so far with our techniques that we can afford to get creative and do fun things. And customers want fun things. They want to be wowed. I think it's great. I'm curious to see what the next combination is. Someone tweeted me about a doscuit — I think that's what it’s called. It was like a biscuit cookie shaped like a doughnut. That, I'm not gonna lie, it's a little far-fetched. Let's reel it in, people. Let's not get too crazy.
And, when these crazes pop up, do you feel like you have to come up with your own version because people are talking about it? You’ve ventured out a bit. Fonuts has their take on the ice cream sandwich.
No, absolutely not. No Cronuts for us. While I think it’s delicious-sounding and great -- I've never tasted one -- I'm not going there. I’m good with Fonuts. I’m not going to do the Cronuts. It’s not really my thing. It's not my style of food. It's heavy. It's a completely different beast. And people constantly call and ask, 'Do you guys have Cronuts? No? Well, you should make a baked, healthier version of the Cronut!' It's like, no. I'm sticking with my thing.
Any new Fonut flavors coming out?
Yes, I finally am starting working on some new flavors. We're actually going to introduce more gluten-free flavors. I know our strawberry and blueberry are our most popular sellers. So we're going to do a version of that, maybe a raspberry, for all our gluten-free friends because they always request something like that.
Is there a dessert that you haven't mastered yet that you would like to pin down? I just had a cake disaster over the weekend.
I would love to be able to make the perfect canelé. A canelé to me is as big of an art to perfect as a croissant is. It's one of those traditional French desserts that truly is amazing and you really need the mold that has aged and been around for so long. If I could make the perfect canelé, I'd be happy. But I also look at it as, I don't feel like I’ve perfected anything. I still tweak the Fonut recipes to make them better. I think anything can be made just a little bit better. It takes a lifetime to perfect what you do in the pastry world. You can always hone your skills. Even our ice cream, I try to find ways to make it better. I'm always searching and trying to learn.
I imagine business has picked up with the Bravo show. Do you just live here now to meet demand?
I fortunately don't have to come in the wee hours at night and bake anymore. I have an amazing crew to bake for me. I'm here much more in the day. After Labor Day, we're actually going to close earlier, at 8 p.m., and still stay open Friday and Saturday nights until 10 p.m. It's just so tough to keep up with the demand. We're selling out earlier in the day. But we do want to open another location. We really do want to expand. L.A. is such an expansive city that we definitely want to make it more accessible. I don't know if it will be very far west or very far east, but we're really trying to weigh our options. It's just a matter of finding the perfect location. I would love the location to be on the Westside. I think Brentwood would be amazing. I love going to Sweet Rose there. I love that neighborhood -- they do well. I think there's a huge market there. We get so many requests for it. And especially nowadays with kids and their allergies. Brentwood is such a family place; we get so many people from Brentwood and Santa Monica coming over here. We also get a lot of requests for Silver Lake and downtown. Downtown is growing. We're debating. It really will come down to the perfect space.
Is there a goal date in mind?