The Donut Chef, by Bob Staake


My five-year-old daughter's current favorite book is The Donut Chef, by Bob Staake. I'm glad she wants me to read it to her at least once a week, because I enjoy it as much as she does. It's the story of a chef who opens a donut store that becomes a big hit. But then a rival donut chef opens a store around the corner, and the two chefs compete by making increasingly elaborate donuts with flavors like "cherry-frosted lemon bar, peanut-brickle buttermilk, and gooey coca- mocha silk."

Staake is one of the best illustrators out there, and I'm amazed that he does it all with Adobe Photoshop 3.0 on Mac OS 7. The Donut Chef, by Bob Staake


  1. I hope the sequel addresses a desire for the perfect glazed donut. Kitchen-sink concoctions are fine, and thanks for that Voodoo Doughnuts tip since it will likely become a linchpin of a future vacation, but an exercise in exquisite refinement is something our children desperately need. Do it for the chirren!

  2. “he does it all with Adobe Photoshop 3.0 on Mac OS 7″
    … well, it just goes to show – tools maketh not the artist. One could have every updated version of everything and still not be able to produce crap. A really good artist will make due with whatever tools he has at his disposal.

    course i hope he’s gone out and updated his system now… tools maketh not the artist but a good artist with top-notch tools never hurts…

  3. I am underwhelmed by these commercial ad-style drawings. For heavens sake, get a pen! (or Wacom, if so inclined)

  4. I’ve been very slow to embrace the computer-graphication of children’s lit. But this title went a long way to winning me over. The vibrant illustrations are so full of energy and life. The text is very rich and it really is fun to read. I hope he writes a bunch more.

  5. My sons’ favorite doughnut related book is Laurie Keller’s wonderful Arnie The Doughnut. Ms. Keller has a very playful style and an amazing sense of humor that is both silly and sharp. Aside from the general narrative, there are so many asides drawn into the book’s artwork, a thorough reading becomes a mini-performance at our house and always involves smiles and laughter.

    Sample: On the page that names all the different varieties of doughnuts, beside the painting and label of the Long John is a small line that says “I prefer Long Jonathan.” So awesome.

  6. I thought I was going to be the only humbug to comment on the artwork being done on a computer…those illustrations are math, not art.

    1. those illustrations are math, not art.

      So are paintings done with brushes woodcraft or animal husbandry?

  7. Bob Staake’s work is great and inspiring. I wanted to make a holiday card that borrowed upon his style but didn’t allow myself the time to do a job even one millionth as good.

    Now the nitpick: around the time of the New Yorker elephant/donkey cover he did for the election not long ago, the Mac OS 7 rumor came into being. That is actually not the case…

    He is running Classic OS 9 on an OS X machine, a G5 PowerMac if I’m not mistaken. Still, damn fine work.

  8. Ha! I read this at the bookstore today! I always peruse the kid’s books for good nephew gifts. I thought this was cute but really liked Library Lion and reread my favorite of the past couple years, Monkey With A Toolbelt (which has the bonus of being by a local for me author).

  9. If your daughter enjoys well-illustrated books about doughnuts, I would heartily recommend Robert McCloskey’s “Homer Price,” in which young, quick-thinking Homer saves the day when his uncle’s doughnut-making machine goes haywire:

    McCloskey also wrote and illustrated the classic “Make Way for Ducklings,” “Blueberries for Sal,” “One Morning in Maine” and other winners.

  10. @13: Ah, donut-making machines going haywire.

    That reminds me a little of that old sk00l Sesame Street short. I have only the vaguest memory of it, but I remember it taking place at night, in a donut bakery filled with people, and a woman loses her (diamond?) ring in the batter. Everyone then descends upon the freshly cooked donuts in a gustatory frenzy, until a masticating child finally finds the ring, to great acclaim.

    Haven’t been able to find it on YouTube, tho’.

  11. @Postliteracy: That’s the Homer Price story exactly! The video was made by Weston Woods Films in 1987 for their Children’s Circle literary series of adapting great children’s books for video, and you can borrow it from some public libraries or buy or rent it from Blockbuster:

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