Pastry chef Alex Stupak is a master of innovative designs and textures,
making him no stranger to the molecular gastronomy taking place at
wd~50. In a kitchen where science takes dishes to a whole new level,
Alex has relied on experimentation and a precise sense of balance to perfect
the creations that continue to delight and awe customers. At the youthful age of twenty-six, chef Alex Stupak had earned the
pastry chef position at one of most innovative and praised restaurants
in America, Alinea. There, Stupak worked alongside famed chef Grant
Achatz, distinguishing himself with provocative creations and cutting-edge techniques.
Alex reverses expectations with a cherry-covered chocolate, a dish of
smooth chocolate mousse encapsulated by a blood-red cherry gel.
Married. My wife is the pastry sous chef at Babbo.
What was your first job in food?
A dishwasher at a tiny café in my home town.
You were a pioneer of the molecular gastronomy on the pastry
scene. What first compelled you to experiment with unconventional
flavors and cutting edge methods?
I am completely self
taught as a pastry chef, so any methodology or technique had to
originate from experimentation, that, plus the fact that
conventionality bores me.
Which tools do you always keep on hand in the kitchen?
A retractable razor, a note pad, and my offset spatula.
What’s your take on classic desserts like apple pie and key lime pie?
I leave them alone. I believe in perfecting classics, not altering them.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a pastry
chef in such top restaurants as Alinea in Chicago and currently at
Working at places that pride themselves in
their creativity leaves you no choice but to be creative. There’s
immense pressure. I get the impression people think this is fun.
What’s your favorite dessert on the spring pastry menu?
with olive oil and yogurt. It’s exciting because my Sous Chef, Rosio
Sanchez, created it. It’s amazing to watch her blossom.
What’s your least favorite dessert on the menu?…
If I didn’t like something I wouldn’t serve it.
Is there an ingredient you’re eager to experiment with next and what is the most unusual dessert you’ve ever conceived?
We are just beginning to apply enzyme technology to desserts which
is very new. I honestly don’t consider our food as unusual, we just
apply open minded logic to everything.
What culinary trends do you embrace?
Exploration of food science and culinary anthropology. Anything that is a result of research and hard work.
What trends do you wish would die already (and yes, you must pick one)?
Deconstruction. It’s become obvious and passé. I’m guilty of it myself, but I feel it’s time to move on.
What’s your junk food of choice?
Sour Patch Kids and Red Bull.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
A return to savory cooking. I plan to go in a very different direction.
Photo Credit: Lara Kastner, courtesy of Alinea restaurant, Chicago
Phone: (212) 477-2900
Address: 50 Clinton St., nr Rivington St.
Until we eat again,
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