Sugar-mad New Yorkers are willing to wait indefinitely for a taste of these treats.
The Filipino-inspired Kora Bakery was started out of an apartment in Woodside, Queens in the summer of 2020, after chef Kimberly Camara and her partner, Kevin Borja, were out of work following the attack on COVID-19.
Intended as a temporary endeavor, the company has since evolved into a wildly popular, five-man manned business with what was at one time a 10,000-person waiting list.
“When we started Kora, we had no intentions of turning it into a full-blown business,” Camara, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, told the Guardian. “It was something we thought would just be a seasonal project, something we might want to start and end in a few months over the summer of 2020. We just kind of went with the flow.”
To begin with, family and friends helped them deliver donuts – signature sweets include a leche-flan creation consisting of brioche dough with a flank center and a shiny blob made from the purple yam bowl ube – but demand quickly forced them to expand.
After temporarily closing the waiting list, they have since managed to halve it to still obscene 5,000 people. And orders are once again closed, this time for both pickup and holidays, with plans to reopen in the new year on January 10th. Camara attributes Kora’s long waiting list to more than just the tasty recipes.
“It’s really about the connection we’ve been able to create with people through donuts,” she said. “Whether it’s through nostalgia, storytelling – people can relate to many of the stories I wanted to tell about how I came up with certain flavors and brought them to life through a donut.”
In addition to obtaining back orders, the couple is now also working on getting a brick room for Kora, who currently operates through online orders and has over 39,000 followers on Instagram.
For Camara, Kora’s success has been deeply satisfying: Her ability to share her recipes – many of them inspired by her late grandmother Kora’s own cookbook – has been creatively and professionally self-actualizing.
“Kora is the gathering of my whole life. There is no way my grandmother looks down on us and is not so proud of all the work we have done, ”Camara told Eater. “How Kora takes us, behind it all is my connection with her and my connection with my heritage.”