NORFOLK, Va. - Just like she has the last eight years, Stella Pomianek came in early on Tuesday.
On the agenda -- prepping, frying and filling nearly 2,000 paczki inside Café Stella's Colonial Avenue location in Ghent.
The deep-fried jelly doughnuts (pronounced POWNCH-kee) are a popular Fat Tuesday tradition in Poland and Polish-American communities.
Through the years, Café Stella's paczki, which come with raspberry or cream filling, have developed quite the local following from transplants and people trying them for the first time.
"For me, baking is personal," said Pomianek. "Of course it's a business but when you hear these stories of people having it and they haven't had it since childhood, it's very nostalgic for them. That's why honestly a lot of us cook."
That's certainly why Pomianek and her small team continue with the tradition, even through the pandemic. The process isn't an easy one.
"It's probably 3 hours from start to finish. After the second proofing, we cut them out, we proof them again, we fry them and then we fill them. And then we're making our own Bavarian cream," she tells News 3.
The result is something that keeps people coming back, so much so that if you haven't preordered paczki before Tuesday, you likely won't get them for a while.
But Pomianek says she makes them throughout the year for customers who order them special.
Café Stella opens at 7:30 a.m.