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Meet Jess Chidi of Twirl Treats in Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Chidi.

Jess, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I first discovered Chimney Cakes while on vacation in Prague. The freshly baked cinnamon cake paired with the creamy soft serve ice cream was unlike any dessert I’d ever had, and I was hooked after the first bite! So when I returned to Houston and couldn’t find Chimney Cakes anywhere, I decided to open up Houston’s first Chimney Cakeshop! I spent the next year researching the history of the cakes, importing equipment, and testing out the recipe. I even made a trip to the birthplace of Chimney Cakes in Transylvania Romania! In 2018 Twirl Treats officially opened up and we started serving Chimney Cakes at farmer’s markets and festivals all over Houston.

It was a small operation but somehow we always managed to find customers who enjoyed Chimney Cakes during childhood or a past vacation. Undoubtedly, the nostalgia they experienced while enjoying our cakes was the motivation we needed to keep going. As word got out and our following continued to grow, we were able to open our first pop-up store in CityCentre Mall during the summer of 2019. You can still enjoy Chimney Cakes by booking our mobile dessert bar for private parties and catering events and we look forward to serving Houston at our next pop-up location!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s definitely been a challenging road! Trying to juggle a full-time career as an engineer and run a small business with staff seemed impossible at times. There were days where doubts started to creep in and I had to rely on the strength of my support system to keep going. Despite all of the ups and downs, I’ve found this experience to be extremely rewarding. The positive feedback and support we’ve received from loyal customers let us know we’re providing a valuable service and encourages us to keep going.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Twirl Treats – what should we know?
Twirl Treats is a European inspired fast casual bakery and coffee shop. Our specialty is a roasted sweet bread from Hungary called a “Chimney Cake”. We start off with a fresh dough that we make in house every morning and each cake is baked fresh in the shop. The dough is wrapped on a cooking roll, topped with melted butter and sugar then roasted in our custom rotisserie oven. Our open kitchen design allows you to watch and smell the entire process from start to finish. The sugar caramelizes on the outside and forms a crunchy shell and the inside stays soft and fluffy like a cinnamon roll. The finished cone is dusted with cinnamon sugar and filled with customizable toppings like Nutella, brownie bites, and soft serve ice cream! Or you can opt for the winter variation served piping hot with hot chocolate or coffee. We also have savory versions topped with melted cheese, garlic, herbs, and pepperoni that are served with marinara dipping sauce and herbal bread oil. From our open kitchen to our traditional recipe and cooking methods, we pride ourselves in providing an authentic European street food experience that all of Houston can enjoy!

If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?
If I could do one thing differently it would be to start sooner! There will always be doubts and it may never seem like the right time to start a business, but I’ve found the best way to learn and improve is to dive in headfirst. Having the perseverance and determination to keep going even when times are hard is essential.

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