Scottish Francis (aka Francis Legge) didn't always dream of creating some of the city's best, most exciting doughnuts. In fact, it wasn't until his appearance on season five of the reality series MasterChef last year—and, specifically, during the dozen-doughnut challenge in episode four—that it all kind of clicked, as Legge took his grandmother's secret recipe for dough, added all kinds of crazy shit to it, and blew away the judges (including Gordon Ramsay) with breakfast bombs like his now-signature Prosciutto Stout.
It didn't take long after that for Legge to find a home for his doughnuts, teaming up with James Paloumbis just as the latter was planning his retro-designed Gossip Coffee, complete with a truly lovely back garden, on 30th Avenue in Astoria. It's now been about six weeks since Gossip opened, and Legge has been coming up with new and interesting varieties seemingly every day since.
I recently spent the morning in Gossip's garden eating a ridiculous amount of Scottish Francis's yeasty concoctions. Here are a few of my favorites:
* The Hot Passion, inspired by a drink Legge was handed at a bar one night, and featuring an intensely tart passion-fruit glaze speckled with red chili flakes.
* The Emoji, which obvs looks exactly like its namesake and is not only wonderfully rich and chocolatey, it's also one of Legge's "cold-brewed" creations, so there's like a cup of coffee mixed in with the dough.
* The Everything! Legge usually only makes these doughnuts on Sundays, but I'm really glad he hooked me up here, because although as one social-media wag said, it looks a little like a "battlefield of blown apart Sesame Street Muppets", you can actually taste all of the different flavors having a party up there on the top of your treat. There's a mini Buzz Ball plopped on as well, which is like eating coffee, in a good way.
* Chit Chats, which are just fried-up trimmings ("I HATE waste," says Legge), lightly glazed with whatever tea strikes the chef's fancy that day. The shapes of these little beauties are vaguely zoomorphic, and their simplicity belie the big, satisfying flavor they deliver.
* The Key Lime Pie. "Put graham crackers on top of any flavor and you can call it 'pie'" says Legge, which is absolutely, deliciously correct.
Legge told me he's looking to introduce savory flavors to the Gossip lineup in the coming weeks--for example, stuffing the dough with ham and cheese and such before frying it up--and well as possibly introducing a few filled varieties. And that's in addition to all of the usual experimenting he's got going on down in the lab. Follow the Gossip Coffee Instagram for updates.
Gossip Coffee also offers a couple of other, locally-baked pastries, and there are about ten different rice pudding flavors—Chocolate Chip, Banana Coconut, Tiramisu—on hand as well. Coffee-wise, you will not be disappointed by any of Gossip's Cold Brew varieties.
Gossip Coffee is located at 37-04 30th Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets, in Astoria, and is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., though morning/early afternoon is the best time to get the doughnuts (which cost $4.50 a piece). (718-440-8792; gossipcoffee.com)