Recipe4Living Interviews Chef Dale Talde of Top Chef Fame
Be sure to check out the recipes Dale shared with us!
Korean Grilled Rib Eye and Pickled Peaches
Grilled Shrimp, Cherry and Grilled Avocado Salad
First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer Recipe4Living’s questions, and secondly, we have to tell you what big fans we have been since your appearance on Season 4 of Top Chef.
We are based in New York and Chicago, and we know you originate from Chicago and now live in New York. What do you think each city brings to the restaurant culture? What are your current favorite restaurants in each city? How are you inspired by the neighborhood you grew up in and where you now live?
Chicago is probably one of the most avant garde food cities the world—look at Grant Achatz and Graham Elliot. That said, it’s still really a meat-and-potatoes, blue-collar town...and that’s what I love about it.
NYC is where you can anything you want, any time you want it and I love that. As a chef, even though it sounds cliché, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Both cities have such great restaurants, too many to name. Some of my favorites in Chicago are Naha (Chef Carrie Nahabedian is my mentor), Pequod’s Pizza and Trenchermen. In NYC, Franny’s, Kin Shop, Mission Chinese and Osteria Morini.
When I moved out of my parents’ house in Chicago, I lived in this area known as Little Saigon; it was populated with pho places, banh mi shops, you name it. I ate at these places on my days off, after work, before work—I ate at these places all the time. That time in my life and that place is written all over my menu today.
Brooklyn, and especially Park Slope, really reminds me of where I was raised in Niles, IL, outside the North side of Chicago. Both places have that real neighborhood feel. They’re home-spun with lots of little shops and family-owned places. Living and working in Brooklyn, I feel like I’ve come full circle in life.
Tell us a bit about how you appeal to a broader audience as the newest member of the Sam’s Club Chef Brigade.
I joined the Sam’s Club Simply Delicious Chef Brigade to show at-home cooks how to make Asian cuisine more approachable and to expose them to some flavors and spices they can use on an everyday basis. Sam’s Club offers tons of quality food items like the Northwest Cherries featured in the two original grilling dishes I created. These recipes display how simple it can be to create restaurant quality meals at home.
You can see these recipes at SamsClub.com/meals.
I know that your Seventh Avenue Park Slope restaurant TALDE has an Asian focus, and that your Filipino background is very important to you both from a personal and culinary aspect. What flavors heighten any Asian dish, and how important is product you work with? What is your favorite dish currently on the menu at TALDE?
To me Asian food is the balance of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. Product is always the most important thing. The quality of what you start with will always determine the quality of your end result.
My favorite dish at TALDE right now is probably our chilled soba noodles. It’s perfect for this hot weather and it’s substantial without making you feel crazy full.
How has your relationship with Thistle Hill’s David Massoni and John Bush helped inspire you as a restaurateur?
Their ability to communicate is inspiring. First and foremost, they’re friends, so they know lines of communication have to be open. When you run a restaurant, there are so many things you have to decide and discuss, and you can’t be successful unless you communicate. As a team and as friends, we talk about everything.
We are interested in tips about stone fruits and using them this Summer; we also would love your tips for freezing peaches! Why are stone fruits such terrific seasonal produce options, in your opinion?
With peaches, you need to pit them first and then halve them. Put them in the freezer cut-side down on a sheet pan. If you put them in a bag, they’ll all just freeze together in one big clump.
Stone fruit are awesome this time of year because they taste like summer. You should cook with the seasons and use products at their peak, and this time of year it’s stone fruit.
After appearing on a show like Top Chef, are you now a more competitive person? I know you were at the start, but it seems like the show would bring that spirit out in any chef and then some. Do you draw support and inspiration from the other chefs?
I’ve always been a competitive person. I think the competitive spirit is something you’re born with and I’ve always hated to lose.
Top Chef is like a family and all those chefs are like brothers and sisters to me. Any time they need anything, I’m happy to help and vice versa.
What can you tell us about your education at the Culinary Institute that would be helpful for aspiring chefs to know?
Being a student at the Culinary Institute of America is the greatest education you can get, but you have to be mature to embrace what’s given to you.
What are some of your upcoming projects or goals for the near future, personally and professionally? Where do you hope to travel to next to gain inspiration for your culinary creations?
David, John and I are opening our second project together in August. It’s a bar called Pork Slope that’s inspired by American roadhouses. Outside of work, I want to spend more time with my loved ones.
As far as travel goes, I’d like my next trip to be Hong Kong. I want to go to all the countries that I have roots in, where my blood is from; I’ve been to the Philippines and I’ve been to Spain. Hong Kong is next.
If you had to use fish sauce or shrimp paste ONLY, which would you choose and why?
Man, tough question! I’d say fish sauce. It’s less work and it tastes so damn good.
Photo Credit: Sam's Club