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Chef’s Challenge 2017: Chef Steve Konopelski of Turnbridge Point, Denton

Jul 31, 2017 03:11PM ● By James Houck
By James Houck // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

This year’s challenge boasts three “Best Of” chefs—David Pow of Soul in Annapolis, Ryan & Emily Groll of Eat Sprout! based in Trappe, and Steve Konopelski of Turnbridge Point in Denton— each with unique style and creativity on display in their chosen culinary creations. Below, we present dishes by Steve Konopelski of Turnbridge Point in Denton. View all chefs here.

“Before I was a chef, I was a dancer. I received my training at the world-renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, so naturally, ballet has a big place in my heart. The pavlova is named after famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It’s light and delicate and can be tailored to just about any flavor, however, berries and vanilla cream is classic. This is our take on a timeless dessert.

Fresh Berry Pavlova with Sweet Mascarpone Cream and Blackberry Coulis


For the pavlova:

  • 150 grams egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • Splash lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 300 grams confectioners’ sugar

For the coulis:
  • 200 grams blackberry puree
  • 100 grams sugar

For the cream:
  • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream

For the berry salad:
  • 1 quart of washed and prepared berries of choice (we used halved strawberries, blueberries, pitted cherries, and raspberries)
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 3 or 4 mint leaves, chiffonaded
  • Pinch of black pepper


To make the Meringue: Combine egg whites, salt, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high (speed 6) for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the meringue is glossy with stiff peaks. Transfer mixture to piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe desired shapes out of meringue onto a sheet pan protected with a silicone baking mat. Make sure that there is some meringue on the bottom; you want to pipe a bowl or nest shape. Bake in preheated 160-degree oven overnight, for about 8 to 10 hours. Remove meringues from the oven and allow to cool. Meringues should be crisp and dry. Store in airtight container for up to one month.

To make the coulis:
Place blackberry puree and sugar in a small sauce pan and heat just until the sugar has melted; do not boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to five days.

To make the cream:
Place mascarpone cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean paste, and about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until cheese has softened and mixture is smooth. Scrape bowl if necessary. Add remaining cream and whisk until completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cream should be just above medium peaks. Chill until ready to use. Can be kept in refrigerator for up to five days.

To make the berry salad:
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently toss. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes to macerate.

To assemble:
Place a dot of the coulis on the middle of a clean white plate or other serving vessel. Place meringue nest on top of the coulis. Fill meringue about half way with berry salad and some of the juice. Drizzle fruit with a bit of the coulis. Top fruit and coulis with a generous dollop or quenelle of the cream. Drizzle with more coulis in decorative pattern. Adorn the plate with select berries from the salad. Let sit for about 5 to 7 minutes to allow meringue to soften slightly from the fruit and juice. Serve.

"This sandwich first came about as a way to use up some leftover bread and candied bacon. I love a classic Monte Cristo sandwich and thus the idea was born. Sharp cheddar cheese, candied bacon, and creamy scrambled eggs, all sandwiched between light and rich French toast. This sandwich is a wonderful combination of sweet and savory as well as soft and crunchy. It’s a delicious and slightly indulgent take on your everyday breakfast sandwich.”

Breakfast Monte Cristo

Serves 4


  • 8 slices of dense bread
  • (croissant bread, challah, or brioche)
  • 1.5 cups half-and-half
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Prepared candied bacon (3 slices per sandwich, recipe to follow)
  • 8 large eggs for scrambling
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped chives
  • 4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Raspberry jam for serving
  • Butter for frying French toast


Prepare custard for French toast by mixing eggs, half-and-half, salt, and maple syrup in medium sized bowl. Preheat non-stick skillet on medium heat.

Begin in batches by soaking slices of bread in custard for about 30 seconds each side. Melt about one tablespoon of butter in skillet. Place slices of bread in skillet and cook until golden brown. Flip bread and cook on other side. Hold finished pieces of French toast in 200-degree oven until all are complete.

Once French toast is completed, wipe skillet clean. Whisk together 8 eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Melt another tablespoon of butter in skillet over medium low heat. Cook eggs in skillet using a silicone whisk, whisking constantly until eggs begin to set. Add another tablespoon of butter and continue to whisk until eggs have cooked thru. Eggs should be very fluffy. Remove from heat and stir in chives.

To assemble sandwiches, begin with one piece of French toast. Top with sliced sharp cheddar cheese and place under broiler just until cheese has melted. Next, top melted cheese with 3 pieces of candied bacon and one quarter of the scrambled eggs. Finish the sandwich with a second piece of French toast. Repeat with remaining pieces of French toast. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with raspberry jam and fresh raspberries.

For the Candied Bacon:
  • Package of bacon, any brand or flavor (do not use thick cut)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil. Line a third sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread pieces of bacon equally between sheet pans lined with foil. Brush each piece of bacon with Dijon mustard. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar. Gently pack in the sugar using your fingers. Roast bacon in oven until it is cooked through and sugar has begun to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and immediately transfer bacon piece by piece to sheet pan lined with parchment paper. If you run out of room, place a second sheet of parchment on top of bacon and start again with a second layer. Bacon needs to be transferred to a clean sheet pan to cool. Use immediately or store bacon in airtight container in fridge for up to one week. Refresh as needed.

"While working for Claudia Fleming at the North Fork Table and Inn in Southold, New York, one of our breakfast staples in the summer was fresh tomatoes macerated in olive oil, salt, and pepper…that’s it. The salt brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes. When we opened Turnbridge Point, we began doing the same thing for breakfast. One day I added some cucumbers to the mix, along with basil and parsley, and a delicious side salad was born. It’s one of our brunch staples during the summer months, especially since we get both the cucumbers and heirloom cherry tomatoes right from our garden. This salad is crunchy and sweet with a bright pesto-like flavor. It’s a perfect summer salad.”

Cucumber and Tomato Salad


  • 1 medium English Cucumber
  • 1 pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parsley


Wash and prepare cucumber and tomatoes. Cut tomatoes in half or quarters depending on size. Slice cucumber in half, and then cut into half to one inch chunks. Place tomatoes and cucumber in a bowl. Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley and basil (about 1 Tbsp. each). Salt liberally, about 1 Tbsp. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Toss all together and serve immediately or store in refrigerator for one day.