Many chefs have gained kitchen experience at a young age, but very few could be considered “boy wonders” in the kitchen. Alex Stupak is, of course, the exception. Alex began his culinary career at the age of 12, convincing a local restaurant owner that he was of legal age to work in a kitchen in order to secure a spot.
By the time he was a senior in high school, Alex had begun competing in national culinary competitions, and he had garnered enough attention and acclaim to earn himself a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America. Following his externship at Boston’s Clio restaurant in the pastry station, Alex eventually worked his way through Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago and wd-50, and though he had no plans to become a pastry chef at first, Alex saw opportunities to move up the ladder in that department.
Finally, Alex had the opportunity to open his own space, and Empellón Cocina in New York City’s East Village was the culmination of a lifetime spent working towards this goal. Since then, Alex has seen his profile steadily rise, and he is an obvious choice for a place on this list.
Specialties & Resources
Alex’s varied culinary background shines through in the menu at Empellón, where traditional Mexican dishes are blended with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, European and Eastern influences.
Offerings include guacamole with pistachios; Spanish prawns with chintestle mayonnaise; boiled peanuts with pickled vegetables and hot sauce; chicken meatballs with mole poblano; kumamoto oysters with campechana water and ketchup oil; melted cheese with brussels sprouts and pumpkin seeds; falafel tacos with hummus and charred cucumber salsa; fried Maine smelt tacos with jalapeno relish and lime mayonnaise; shishito pepper tacos with an onion-cream sauce; mortadella tacos with chiles, olives and capers; ramen noodles with pozole broth, roast pork and soft-boiled egg; sliced mango salad with crab, chile powder and lime; sweet corn with epazote flan and toasted garlic dressing; fluke ceviche with currant tomatoes; squid with black mole, nugget potatoes and chorizo mayonnaise; smoked lamb shoulder with drunken salsa, lobster roll with chipotle, papalo and potato chips, skirt steak with burnt serrano sauce; grilled sea bream with golden tomatillo and crispy rice salad; and Hokkaido uni on toast with egg salad and sunflower seeds.