SHELTON, Conn. — When chef Brian Stockbridge closed Stockbridge’s Cheesecakes in Shelton last December, fans of the decadent treat wondered how they would replace its signature secret recipe.
After all, this was no run-of-the-mill cheesecake: Connecticut Magazine crowned Stockbridge’s version as the Best Cheesecake in Connecticut for 11 of the 15 years he owned the unassuming Howe Avenue storefront.
Worry no more: Stockbridge is back in action — just under a different name.
Dee’s Kitchen has been open for business at the same location since August. One of the first things the new owners did was to woo Stockbridge back into the kitchen.
“Most of the people coming in are repeat customers who used to come in to Stockbridge’s,” said Stockbridge, who had closed the bakery for personal reasons. “It’s been good.”
A longtime California resident, Stockbridge came East to train at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., in the 1980s. He didn’t set out to specialize in cheesecake, but as part of an early hotel job he had to churn out the confections. Soon, he began perfecting his style.
“I like making cheesecake. It’s my favorite thing to make because people really enjoy it,” said the Ansonia resident, who declined to reveal his recipe. “It’s a secret.”
Stockbridge and his team bake about 54 cheesecakes a day. They’re gearing up for an even busier holiday season, getting into the kitchen at 7 a.m. for a full day’s work.
Variety is king in their kitchen. Cheesecake flavors run from regular New York style to pineapple, chocolate chip, cherry, Oreo and tiramisu. Peppermint stick and pumpkin are seasonal favorites.
Their cheesecakes can be made with a light graham cracker crust or with no crust, which makes them gluten free.
Dee’s Kitchen, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, also has a full range of breakfast and lunch options, including omelets, French toast, quiches, Philly cheesesteaks, salads and wraps.
Stockbridge and the restaurant’s new owners hope to branch out and offer the cheesecakes in other locations. “Ideas are out there,” he said.
Even if they don’t decide on wider distribution, Stockbridge said he’s happy making other people happy on Howe Avenue.
“We eat food because we have to,” he said. “We eat dessert because we want to.”
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