Kora is a viral sensation, born out of social media during the pandemic.
Kimberly's grandmother taught her everything about cooking. The first recipe she learned was a Filipino "sweet coconut dessert soup with sticky rice balls in it."
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America (including a gap year as a pastry chef), she began doing savory work for caterer Abigail Kirsch's Pier Sixty event venue and 11 Madison Park.
2020 started off with much difficulty: Kimberly's grandmother passed away and the pandemic cut short her new research and development cook job.
One day in June, Kimberly fried a piece of brioche as donuts and filled them with leftover ube creme. She created four Filipino-influenced donut recipes, her cousin took photos, and Kimberly casually posted them for sale with using a Google order form on her personal Instagram account .
She thought this would be a "seasonal thing" that would last three weeks, and sell 100 donuts. She went for a bike ride, and returned to find 175 donuts ordered. By September, it was 500 a week. As the donuts went viral, Kimberly moved the operations out of her apartment to a Long Island City commissary.
Currently, she posts her donuts on Mondays, the pre-order of 2,000 sells out in a few minutes, her family assembles the orders, and people pick them up in person at the end of the week. All through word of mouth.
"MY GRANDMOTHER'S RECIPE BOOK"
We actually found this in her belongings after she passed away. We opened one of her drawers and found this. I felt like I struck gold with this because like most grandmas, whenever she would teach me a recipe, it was just all verbal -- "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" -- but for her, she would always reference this, I guess, behind the scenes.
I remember picking this up and my mom showing it to me, and flipping through the pages and stumbling upon her leche flan recipe. Which is exactly the same recipe we use here for our donuts here at Kora.
Our leche flan donut is what really put us on the map. It's been replicated internationally.
I remember seeing that recipe and thinking to myself that this recipe was so iconic... like at every party we hosted, it was the dessert that everybody wanted my grandma to make. It had to be at every party.
IT WAS THE DESSERT
MY GRANDMA TO MAKE.
So when I saw that recipe, I was like "I have to use this for something. I don't know what. It was six, seven months before any donut business started. I just knew I had to use that recipe to some capacity. I didn't know where, how, whatever. I just knew I had to use it.