The Hungarian chimney cake (kürtöskalács) shop is familiar to everybody in Toronto by now. The Hungarian sweets had somewhat of a rocky start in Canada; however, those who tasted it became lifelong fans. There are now four shops in and around Toronto, scoring the company a place among the fastest-growing enterprises in Canada, and causing the owners to think about franchise options.
In 2014, a couple living in Toronto, Justin Butler and his wife, Kristin, decided to go and travel around the world for a year. Their last stop brought them to Hungary, visiting cousins and reconnecting to the Hungarian roots, as Justin’s ancestors are Hungarian. It was during this trip that they first tasted the delicious Hungarian chimney cake and fell in love – reports Forbes.
Apparently, there used to be one woman in Toronto who occasionally sold chimney cakes, and sometimes you could get it at the Hungarian store in the city; however, once it was gone, you could get no more, there was no restocking. So, the couple decided to fill this gap in the market. They learnt the tricks of making chimney cake in the Slovenian Muraszombat, close to the Hungarian border, from a Hungarian and an English woman. This was followed by two months of trial-baking in the parents’ garage; then, finally, they could start selling the Hungarian speciality in Canada.
Justin’s grandmother, the now 88-year-old Eva, inspired the company’s name, Eva’s Original Chimneys, and actively participated in the taste-testing phase to find the perfect recipe. She herself also attempted to bake the Hungarian speciality, as the memories of its delicious taste were vivid from her childhood; however, she felt like she could never get results as great as her mother’s or grandmother’s (click HERE for the recipe).
The initial reaction of Canadians to this hungaricum was nonchalance and a bit of bafflement. The owners first tried their luck at festivals, concerts and various events, selling the sweets from a food truck. Although they slowly built a client base, and more and more people started asking where they could get the dessert when there was no event on, a recurring question was about what the chimney cake held on the inside.
Traditionally, the Hungarian chimney cake is formed like a cylinder and has nothing on the inside. This did not make sense to Canadians, though, so the company started selling the so-called ‘chimney cone’.
A chimney cone has the shape of a cone and is filled with various flavours of ice cream, and topped with different sauces and sprinkles. On the outside, it is still flavoured with coconut, walnut, cinnamon, hazelnut or vanilla, all mixed with sugar.
They opened their first shop in 2017, and by now, they have four shops altogether and two food trucks in addition.
“We consider the Hungarian roots to be crucial; we brought an authentic Hungarian product to North-America.”
– says Justin. He also adds that he knows chimney cakes originate from Transylvania, but he knows from his grandmother that Transylvania was once part of Hungary.
The Hungarian origin is emphasised in the design of the shops, too. The walls are lined by the Hungarian flag, photos of Budapest and the names of Hungarian streets.
“On the one hand, it is out of respect for our family; on the other hand, it is so people know where chimney cakes come from.”
The most popular product at Eva’s Original Chimneys is the filled chimney cone, about 300
thousand are sold annually, for 9-10 dollars a piece, while the traditional chimney cake is sold for 6.25 dollars.
They also have a partnership with a Hungarian supplier, Chocome, who, among other things, supply the chocolate chips used at the bottom of a chimney cone to prevent the filling from spilling out.
“Chocome is known well-enough in Canada so that customers know it is a premium and good-quality product” – says Balázs Popescu, the export manager of Chocome Ltd.
Interestingly, they have another product by now, prepared from the same dough. This is called the ‘chimdog’, a name coined by the owners – we can say this is a new hungaricum.
It is filled with beef, cheese and vegetables, but there is also a vegan version.
Asked about their future plans, the couple revealed that they plan to start the franchise expansion in the spring of 2019. The location is unknown as of yet; however, if they end up coming to Europe, their first stop will definitely be Hungary.
For more chimney cake-related news, check out how this Hungarian speciality conquers other parts of the world.
Featured image: facebook.com/originalchimneys