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Chef Turkessa Takes The Cake

Chef Turkessa Celestine, former KCC Culinary Arts major

Chef Turkessa Celestine, former KCC Culinary Arts major

Chef Turkessa Takes The Cake

 The adage goes: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. After a near-death experience in 2015, Turkessa Celestine did just that: “An emergency surgery and time in the hospital allowed me to remember to live to the best of my ability, on my terms.” The result was the creation of Forty Eighth Catering, offering sweet and savory baked goods for all occasions – including a gin-spiked boozy lemon cupcake called “The Bee’s Knees.”

Growing up in a culinary family, she knew she had the kitchen skills, but felt she needed to master the business end. Already a graduate of St. John’s University with a degree in administrative studies, and working full-time as a healthcare professional, she decided to switch gears and enroll in the culinary arts program at Kingsborough Community College. “Even as a six-year-old, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would reply that I wanted to be the head chef of a major cruise line. Wild dreams for an elementary school kid!” she laughed. “It’s never too late to pursue a passion and Kingsborough allows that. There were a few other students who were also coming back to school to follow their dreams and passions.”

Celestine used social media to launch and propel her company. “The name came about from the street I moved to once I was on my own. My coming-of-age happened right on 48th Street in Brooklyn,” she recalled. “It represents many good times and realizations, all from my first little apartment. It’s where I took control of my career path.”

Once her home business began gaining traction, she transferred to Rutgers University, where she pursued an MBA, graduating in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic.

“The right education, dedication, patience, and support from loved ones have all been crucial to my success,” noted Celestine. “Three chefs from KCC and their investment in my education will continue to resonate with me as I take on new ventures: Chef Dominguez shared her love of cake decorating and level of expertise with every class, so we, too, could see the beauty of that field. Chef Riley recognized and encouraged my talent and truly wanted to see me succeed, which motivated me to do my best in every class. And Chef DeLange shared her life experiences, showing us we were capable of overcoming anything that stood in the way of our pursuits. I am grateful for having studied under their direction.”

The young chef recently had the experience of a lifetime. A client recommended she audition for The Good Dish, a mid-day panel show on FOX5 TV, focusing on food and cooking. After a series of audition videos and recipe and portfolio submissions, she was chosen to appear on a “Great American Dish Off” segment. “The whole time I didn’t believe that they would choose me, but as I made it through each round, I felt more and more confident in my abilities and owned the moment.”

A nationwide competition challenged the competitors to develop a recipe that would transform boxed cake mix. Celestine was one of three finalists.

A two-person team created bourbon bacon monkey bread with their mix; another pineapple coconut brownies. When Chef Turkessa revealed her creation, an audible gasp went through the studio. “I applied what I knew about pastry arts and created a beautiful three-tiered pistachio cake.” The elaborate cake was replete with an ice cream cone and scoops of dripping pistachio ice cream – all made from buttercream.

Although the judges gushed over her creation, for the first time in the show’s history, they determined it was a three-way tie. “I was disappointed that I didn’t win, but I got a chance to speak with the other contestants and realized they were young entrepreneurs like myself,” she said. “I was happy to learn that they were also validated and recognized for the hard work that they put into their pursuits and small businesses. We all worked hard as minority women to make it!” To watch the two-part segment featuring her stunning creation and download her award-winning recipe, go to

Celestine’s goal is to one day have a brick-and-mortar bakery in Brooklyn. She notes that balancing a 9-5 job while running her own business is a 24/7 operation. “Finding time can be difficult, so staying organized and timely is key,” she shared. “Even though this can be a very demanding field, I look at it as my time to zone out and lose myself in my work. I love that I get to be a part of many happy moments for others: weddings, birthdays, family events. It’s very rewarding.”

Forty Eighth Catering
Instagram: @ChefTess48th

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