Business

How an Artisanal Doughnut Maker Spends Her Sundays

When Kimberly Camara was laid off from her job last March as a research and development cook in the hospitality industry, she decided to move in temporarily with her parents in Bayside, Queens. There, she found comfort in baking, developing her own style of doughnut made with leftover brioche dough.

She realized pretty fast she was on to something. So last June, alongside her business partner and boyfriend, Kevin Borja, Ms. Camara started Kora, a Filipino-inspired bakery named after her late grandmother, Corazon. Now, the company has more than 23,000 followers on Instagram, and its weekly doughnut “drops” — totaling some 500 pastries that are either picked up at Ms. Camara’s apartment or delivered within a certain radius — sell out immediately.

Ms. Camara’s doughnuts, made from scratch, have Filipino flavors like ube (a purple yam), leche flan, sans rival (a layered cake made with cashews) and halo-halo (a cold dessert). She plans to extend into savory foods and other pastries eventually.

Last summer, Ms. Camara, 27, returned to her own apartment in Woodside, Queens, where the demands of Kora recently forced her out of her home kitchen and into a more industrial work space.

SOCIAL OBLIGATIONS One of the first things I do, actually before I even get out of bed, is go through the Kora Instagram. Even though we have a social media person, I like to personally answer as many messages as I can. More recently, Sundays have been dedicated to photo shoots with my brother (who is our in-house photographer) for social and our website.

ROPED IN My cousin Rob moved across the hall with our two other friends who also happen to be my designer and one of our delivery drivers. Since quarantine started, we sort of developed this new hobby of jump roping. Rob jumps rope every morning outside the apartment around 8:30, so I’ve been doing that a lot with him. Usually, I’ll get up, and he’s texting me to meet him downstairs and we’ll jump rope, get a little workout in for an hour or so.

BACK TO BAYSIDE Usually Sundays are my big family days when I get to actually go back to Bayside and spend some quality time with them. My mom and my brother are always here on Fridays for doughnut production, but we’re so heavy in whatever’s going on that we’re not really spending quality time together or hanging out.

THE COMMUTE If it’s nice out, I’ll usually bike from here to Bayside, which is about an hour ride on my little foldable bike. There’s a lot of hills. That’s been my workout lately. On weekdays, it’s really hard to find time to work out and much less even eat sometimes, because I’m just so busy. I’ll try to multitask: bike riding while I’m getting myself from one place to another and also working out.

MOTHER/DAUGHTER TIME My mom’s always so excited to have me back in Bayside because I’m always so busy with Kora now. And so she’ll always say, “Oh, my gosh, let’s cook something,” or “Let’s have a barbecue.”

ISLAND OF GOLD We’ll go to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for whatever we decide to make. In the Philippines, they call them “palengkes,” which refers to the wet markets or the open-air markets where the meat, fruit and vegetables are out. But here, usually, it just refers to any Asian supermarket. We go to this one Asian supermarket specifically called Island of Gold. We just call it “IOG,” and it’s in Fresh Meadows.

MEAL PREP My mom will usually do a lot of the more simple stuff and just give me the heavy stuff. She doesn’t want to deal with it, so I’ll take care of all the proteins and make marinades or what have you. And then, we’ll just sit down, enjoy a meal together. My brother and I will usually barbecue if she wants to get the grill on, or we’ll be inside just sitting around the dining table and just chatting about everything and nothing.

LEGENDS OF CORAZON My grandmother is always a topic of conversation for us. She raised me and my brother, and when she immigrated from the Philippines to here, she lived in our house. So, I literally lived with her growing up and when she passed away, she was still living with us. When I do get a chance to talk to my mom, I always ask her about my grandma and the sorts of things they did or ate growing up. These stories spark a lot of ideas for upcoming flavors even or just remind me of why Kora is what Kora is.

MEXICAN AND A MOVIE Kevin will spend the day with his family, and then he might meet me back at my apartment. We just spend some quality time with each other because throughout the week we are really in work mode, so quality time doesn’t really happen. We’ve been doing a lot of ordering in, and usually Sunday night, while we chuck on a movie, we’ll get some late-night takeout. There’s this Mexican place down the street, El Guacamole. We’ll get that sometimes because they’re open until 3 a.m.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Kimberly Camara on Instagram @kimberlymcamara and her doughnuts @fromkora.



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