From 800, it’s now a 10,000 waitlist for Filipino flavor Kora doughnuts

Kimberly Camara: ‘We expected a big turnout but not a five-block turnout.’ Facebook photo

By Lindy Rosales

Doughnuts named after her recently departed grandmother, Corazon, and selling for $6.50 apiece. What’s so special about Kora doughnuts that it has woven this legend that 800 people are on a waiting list to buy them?

It’s no legend. I found out from a visit to their Fabula Café pop-up event the waiting list is real and probably longer by the time this article is out.

It was a lovely fall afternoon as I was driving down 61st street in Woodside looking for a parking spot. There was a line circling around Fabula Cafe for the first pop-up by Kora, a doughnut venture by the NYC-born chef Kimberly Camara whose family hails from Batangas province.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Camara co-founded Kora with a friend, Kevin Borja. She was previously a Research & Development Cook at the Union Square Hospitality Group.

Outside the coffee shop access cards were handed out to those who were still in line when the doughnuts ran out. The cards will give them priority for pick-up when orders become available. The card is valid for a single box of up to 5 doughnuts. Orders can be made via Instagram, and the doughnuts are usually ready on Fridays. As of this writing, there are 10,000 people on the waiting list, according to one of the members from Kora’s team. All the doughnuts are made in the chef’s kitchen in her Woodside apartment.

What’s special about Camara’s doughnuts? Distinct Filipino flavors, such as Buko Pandan, Champorado, Halo Champurrado, Leche Flan, and Ube.  And freshness. We tasted it. It’s so rich and the fillings so creamy. Each doughnut has its own filling and decorations on top, like each is personalized and customized. One whole doughnut is enough to fill you up.

There’s a minimum order of five doughnuts. Photo by Boyet Loverita
Baking doughnuts from a Woodside apartment kitchen. Instagram photo.

Let’s get to know Camara and find out what inspired her divine sweets.

The FilAm: Congratulations on the success of your first pop-up. How are you feeling right now? 

Kimberly Camara: Thank you so much. Super exhausted. We had a really long day, lots of happy people, lots of unhappy people who couldn’t get donuts. There’s a lot of people waiting many hours and all I can say is we’ve been working really hard to make more and we can only do so much. We obviously expected a big turnout. But not a five-block turn out. That was just really a shock for all of us.

TF: Where did you get the idea for your doughnut business:  

KC: It just came from circumstance…where I had some leftover dough and I decided to fry it. I had just made an ube cake for my friend and I used that filling. I filled the dough and I fried it up and it was pretty good. And I think people might buy this.  And then I started brainstorming. What other Filipino flavors can I play with? Almost everybody loves doughnuts and that’s kind of where it started. That was like four months ago. 

TF: Do you think your success has something to do with the pandemic? 

KC: You know maybe so, because people are home and they want to get out and experience new things. We made it a point that I didn’t want to expand any sort of advertising beyond Instagram. I kind of wanted to keep it low-key because I didn’t have the capacity to make so many doughnuts.

Part of the queue outside the Fabula pop-up event. Photo by Boyet Loverita

TF: Are you planning to open a brick-and-mortar shop? 

KC: We’re looking at it, but we also want to make sure we do that it in a sustainable way. Right now, I’m still producing out of the apartment. We can’t just go from the apartment immediately to the shop. It takes time, we need the capital to build it. There’s a lot of planning involved so it’s not gonna happen overnight. But it’s definitely something that we are looking to have in the future.

TF: Are you planning to go back to your work? 

KC: You know, I thought about that for a long time. And I think you know, me having something of my own has been a long time coming in my life. Not necessarily making doughnuts but just putting my name on something because I’ve been cooking all my life. And going to culinary school I knew that eventually down the line. I don’t know what it was if it was a restaurant or what kind of business it was. But I definitely knew I wanted something. And so I think this is it. My entire family is involved and it just feels like something that had just come from the core of me. Which has been leading up to this point in my life. Yeah, I think this is probably where my life is headed.

TF: How many doughnuts did you cook for today?  

KC: We’re not allowed to say the number. It’s in the hundreds.

© The FilAm 2020

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