Chef Alex Stupak is in the business of food alchemy.
The latest dessert creation at his downtown Manhattan restaurant, Empellon, is an avocado "parfait" that is, well, not quite an avocado, but actually is an avocado. The deceptive tropical trompe l'oeil dessert looks exactly like any regular avocado, served on a bed of shaved ice, but there's more than meets the eye.
Take a spoonful and you'll notice that the texture has a creaminess similar to that of a ripe avocado, yet it's also a cold, custardy texture, that of a parfait, followed by light flavors of olive oil, lemon and eucalyptus. These unexpected twists are the essence of what makes up Stupak's restaurant and why people can't stop talking about him.
Stupak's style can be a little unexpected, adding surprising twists to classic dishes, and in this case, trendy dessert items like the avocado. Avocado pudding, avocado cheesecake, avocado mousse; all made more popular by avid avocado fans.
But, Stupak approaches the humble avocado differently. On the restaurant's menu, Stupak describes avocados having "delicate flavors of anise, almond and unripe banana," which are lost when turned into savory dishes like avocado toast, or guacamole.
In an attempt to elevate the tried and true avocado dessert, Stupak and pastry chef, Justin Binnie, make a parfait using avocado, lime puree and whipped cream, which is then piped into a silicone mold and frozen. Then the avo-shaped frozen parfait is carefully popped out and airbrushed to make this dessert look as close to a real avocado as possible.
"Served with eucalyptus yogurt, olive oil, and lime granita," this deceptively simple parfait is a beautifully plated dessert. One restaurant reviewer, Schmiddi, spoke highly of the dessert, describing it as "either the most perfect avocado, or more likely not an avocado at all … All the flavors work. There is no overly avocado taste. It all just works well."
If you find yourself hungry in New York City, head over to Empellon on Madison Avenue, to try Stupak's faithful, yet unfaithful recreation of an avocado dessert for $16.