"Is molecular gastronomy out? Are hydrocolloids and concepts like deconstruction passé?" So challenges Chef Alex Stupak in his second incarnation of the Push Project. Last Thursday and Friday evening, he welcome his friend / former colleague at Alinea Chef Jordan Kahn of Red Medicine in Beverly Hills into his kitchen at Empellon Cocina to serve nine courses to a group of hungry guests.
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Can you really write a book on America's Greatest New Cooks and not mention Alex Stupak of Empellón? After all, it takes a great mind to move from avant-garde pastry to idiosyncratic Mexican cuisine in one successful fell swoop (even if Stupak insists it was a natural transition). Stupak's cuisine takes all of the multitudinous flavors of Mexico and intensifies them further; a perfect example is his take on chorizo and potato tacos.
With 15 chefs cooking 15 courses for Clio's 15th Anniversary dinner, if food is really the new rock (as some claim it to be) and chefs the new rockstars, this was like the Bonnaroo of meals. That would make me the roadie of the meal, lending a hand here and there, mostly just honored to work with such talent. Take a behind-the-scenes look at all the action and the food.
Chef Alex Stupak may read as bracing, controversial or overly opinionated, but in person his humility and drive come across more than anything. The celebrated pastry chef made waves when he left wd-50 to open a Mexican restaurant—a cuisine he had no previous personal attachment to. But since opening Empellón Taqueria and the recent Empellón Cocina, Stupak has been collecting both upraised eyebrows and ample praise. But praise doesn't drive Stupak. Nor does fear of failure. What does? We had a chat to find out.
We all took note when WD-50 pastry chef Alex Stupak announced that after years of making a name for himself as one of the most innovative pastry chefs in the country at restaurants like Alinea in Chicago or Clio in Boston, he was finally striking out on his own with a restaurant in the West Village. It was when he announced that not only was the restaurant not going to be pastry-themed, but that it in fact was going to be a high-end Mexican taqueria, that we all started scratching our heads. The place is fittingly named Empellón (Spanish for "push" or "shove"), considering the giant stylistic leap he's taken.
[Photographs: Melissa Hom/Metromix New York] Metromix New York gets the scoop on the ice cream bagel at chef Wylie Dufresne's WD-50. The origin story accompanies a cool series of photos showing the making of: Although this bagel had humble...