Anikó Gulyás, owner and operator of Kürtős Inc., established her company in 2015. A Sarasota resident for many years, she and her young family were looking for a business that allowed her to combine the love of great food, baking and her heritage. Meeting a Hungarian lady in Florida with the knowledge and expertise, she started learning and training and eventually opened her business that specialised in baking traditional Hungarian chimney cakes.
In the first years working out of a commercial kitchen, she sold chimney cakes for private orders, tried the wholesale route and even shipped the pastries in the continental USA (at the request of mostly people of European descents). Eventually, she joined local farmers markets, which are very popular in the area as they provide local small businesses & farmers to showcase their products to local residents. Her chimney cakes have become so popular she would sell out at most local markets.
Traditionally, chimney cakes have always been sweet; however, Aniko has come up with a recipe for a savoury version as well, which has become just as popular as the sweet one. The savoury selection includes jalapeno, cheese, olives, bacon, sesame seed, poppy seed, sunflower seed and pumpkin seed toppings. Her sweet chimney cakes are also unique as the recipe contains lemon & orange zest in the dough.
As her business has become successful, she was encouraged to franchise it and offer a mobile and a brick-and-mortar option for franchises. The next stage in growing her business was to open her own store, and she decided on the city’s famous landmark, the UTC Mall Sarasota. This provided the business with greater exposure to a larger customer base and offer a wider selection of products to customers, such as sweet kürtős chimney cones filled with ice cream and the savoury kürtős chimney cones filled with homemade salads (signature chicken, Cajun-style shrimp pasta, kale farro veggie). The store is also the headquarters and training facility for future franchise partners.
In general, Europeans, including Hungarians, enjoy the chimney cakes very much and enjoy the unique flavour Anikó has come up with. Some remember them from their childhood and often mention that they have not tasted a ‘kürtőskalács’ for decades. They are very happy that it is available on this side of the ocean and that they can indulge in this delicious delicacy and share it with their children or grandchildren as well. However, the business is mostly supported by local residents from Sarasota and the surrounding cities. It is a popular baked sweet and savoury treat, a market food and mall food, special occasion gift (gift boxed for Christmas, teachers’ appreciation, hostess gift, etc.) and party food (platters). The cone-shaped version is also very popular as it allows the pastries to be filled, and this way, they become a full meal or dessert. They are the ‘21st-century edition’ of the traditional chimney cakes, and photos of these creations are highly popular on Instagram, helping to grow the popularity of these unique pastries around the world.