Out of turmoil came Kenneth Brooks's cheesecake empire.
In 2014, Brooks was working at North Cypress Medical Center as a neurodiagnostic technician when he fell ill with the flu and had a severe asthma attack. He went into cardiac arrest and for three days was in a coma. After recovering, he felt a serious need to eat cheesecake, which made little sense considering he was lactose intolerant. Then again, his mom loved that dessert. Maybe she was telling him something.
Either way, he made a sweet potato cheesecake. It was good. Other people thought so too, so he kept making them.
"I ended up being the cheesecake guy at work," Brooks says. "People at work were just like, 'Oh my God.' The feeling of seeing people enjoying something you like is so rewarding."
So in 2018, after a few years of impressing friends and family members, including mom, he and his wife, Dr. Winsome Brooks, started Masterpiece Desserts. After hustling with tables at beer gardens, moving product via a food truck, and catering for events and for celebrities like Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent, Masterpiece is opening its brick-and-mortar location June 26 at 9111 Cypress Creek Pkwy.
Masterpiece has a 1,500-square-foot storefront with indoor seating via a couple tables, a 12-foot bench seating area, and a bar. It'll serve cheesecake in various forms: full cakes (plain, strawberry, turtle, sweet potato); miniatures made for single bites in a number of flavors, like cookies and cream and Fruity Tootie, plus a vegan offering with coconut milk and nuts; and platters that are perfect for parties. Coffee and other drinks will be available too.
Guests can order at the counter, but Masterpiece will also accept pre-orders for pickup. In fact, Brooks recommends pre-ordering for the bigger cakes, as he only makes so many each day.
Masterpiece will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday–Sunday during its soft-opening phase, then it will expand hours and days. Down the line, Brooks wants to do more than just cheesecake, though he's done pretty well so far with just that dessert.
"It's been a big blessing and so unexpected," says Brooks. "I had a goal in mind to become the new household name for cheesecake, and that's worldwide, and our customers truly believe it."