A Filipino-inspired doughnut shop in New York that started as a short-term project after its founders were made jobless by the pandemic has become so in demand that it attracted a waiting list of 10,000 customers.
The Kora doughnuts – which are getting media attention – join a long list of hit baked goods in New York whose fame suddenly sees demand rocket. They include the cupcakes of the West Village’s Magnolia Bakery and the “cronut craze” of 2013, where the makers of a croissant-doughnut hybrid saw customers queuing up at dawn until they were forced to limit purchases to two each.
Chef Kimberly Camara started making doughnuts in her apartment in Woodside, Queens, in the summer of 2020 with her partner Kevin Borja, after they both lost their jobs at Union Square Hospitality Group when coronavirus hit the city.
At first, Camara and Borja, both 28, relied on the help of friends and family to deliver them to customers. But now they have a five-person strong staff, an industrial kitchen and are looking to open a shop.
Their online business, which has over 38,000 followers on Instagram, attracted so many orders that when their waiting list hit 10,000 they had to close it while they worked through all the orders. It is currently at around 5,000.
“When we started Kora we had no intention of turning it into a full-blown business,” said Camara. “It was something that we thought would just be a seasonal project, something that maybe we would start and end in a couple of months during the summer of 2020. We kind of just went with the flow.”
As demand for doughnuts grew, they continued to expand. “It’s really about the connection that we’ve been able to make with people through the doughnuts. Whether it’s through nostalgia, storytelling – people can relate to a lot of the stories that I would tell regarding how I came up with certain flavors and brought them to life through a doughnut,” said Camara.
One of their signature creations is a leche flan doughnut, made from a brioche dough with a round piece of flan in the centre made using Camara’s late grandmother Corazon’s leche flan recipe from a book she found after she died.
Camara, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, came up with her doughnut recipe by chance when she decided to fry some brioche dough rather than bake it.