At Empellon, the flan isn't your run of the mill egg custard.
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"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.
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.
Chef Lauren Resler, Alex Stupak's wife and pastry chef at Empellon Taqueria and Cocina, got into pastry to make people smile. She talks with us about how she does just that, what it's like working so closely with her husband, and plans she has in store.
The spirit of Alex Stupak's Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina is one of invention, but heavily steeped in the traditions of Mexican cuisine. It's little surprise, then, that the bar program, run by Mat Resler, is the same way—with creative agave-based cocktails that express the full range of mezcal and tequila, be they fruity or peppery, grassy or smoky. Come check out six of Resler's new drinks.
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.
There's one way to really celebrate Cinco de Mayo right, and that's by downing as many tacos as you can before passing out from meat-tortilla-salsa paroxysms of joy. There are plenty of tacos we love in New York, but here are some we can't stop thinking about, from fatty carnitas to tangy chorizo to funky goat and tripe. Check out the slideshow above to see the tacos we love; if you eat them all this weekend, we'll buy you a beer.
Former WD-50 pastry chef Alex Stupak took a big leap last year when he opened up Empellón, a high-end Mexican taqueria in the West Village. A year later, Stupak is back with Empellón Cocina, a taco-free, quieter, slightly higher-end sister restaurant in the East Village. I stopped by a few nights ago to check out the space and the drinks.
One of the best parts about vegetables is how their natural sweetness comes out when they're cooked well; and no vegetable does this as brilliantly as squash. I can't think of anything I'd rather eat in the middle of winter than a heaping bowl of perfectly roasted butternut, enlivened by nothing more than olive oil and salt. But chefs around New York get more creative than that, of course, featuring squash in everything from curries to crostini to queso fundido. Here are eight squash dishes we love from around the city. What are your favorites?
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.
Empellón, former WD-50 and Alinea ex-pastry chef Alex Stupak's new fancy-pants West Village taqueria, is a family affair, with him at the helm in the kitchen and his wife, Lauren Resler, heading up the pastry station. Not to be discounted is Lauren's brother, Matthew Resler, who leads the ambitious bar program. If you're into margaritas, you'd do well to order the Drunk Monk ($13), an odd-sounding cross between a margarita and an egg white-based foamy sour that really works.