Top Chef's Dale Talde: I Could Not Get in Gear
Top Chef: All Stars, Dale Talde
With three elimination wins and four Quickfire wins — the most of anyone on Top Chef: All-Stars so far — Dale Talde seemed like a shoo-in for the finale. Unfortunately, the Season 4 alum came up short yet again, this time getting the boot for his amberjack stew with undercooked potatoes and mustard-y croutons. See what the New York-based chef, who works at Buddakan, has to say about his "ill-conceived" dish, taking anger management classes, and if Mike really "stole" Richard's chicken oyster idea.
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Did you think you were getting cut after Judges' Table?
Dale: I wasn't confident about my dish. When you don't feel good about your dish, you feel like you have a chance to go home. ... I should've asked the judges to wait [for service]. If I literally had five more minutes, [the potatoes] would've been cooked through.
Tom said you should've told them to wait, but wouldn't they have been mad about that?
Dale: Well, that's the thing! I've never told my chef to wait. That's not what cooks do. If my cook told me to wait, I'd plant my foot up his a-- and tell him to go find another job. I compromised and it was a mistake.
So what happened? You put in a new batch of potatoes?
Dale: I did. We were going to cook à la minute with them, and they came on us a little faster than we thought. I ended up kind of freaking out and serving. ... I never thought [about not serving the potatoes]. It was part of the dish. And the croutons were just too mustard-y. Paula Deen is a mayonnaise girl. If you watch her show, she just puts mayonnaise on everything.
You seemed pressed for time the whole episode. Do you think you guys were given too little time for everything or was it poor time management on your part?
Dale: I just couldn't get my a-- in gear. I could not get in gear for some reason. I was in the juice. I should've stopped and re-conceptualized things, but I didn't and that was my failure. It was an ill-conceived dish. It was everything. It was the pressure of being there. Fatigue at some point comes into this, and to be honest with you, it's luck. I didn't choose my protein. I'm not blaming this on anybody, but a lot of it is circumstance. If you get this right, you get this right, you win and move on. If you get this right, you don't get that right, you're going home.
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How much did Angelo help? It didn't seem to be an advantage to get him since he was just eliminated and is coming off back-to-back seasons.
Dale: He helped me a lot, but I mean, put yourself in his position. Fifty-two straight challenges for that guy. That's crazy. Crazy! I mean, really, it's masochistic. It's like, why put yourself through that again? But he did. Sometimes you have no more gas in tank. ... He did [try to talk me up]. He saw me with my head down and he was like, "Dude, you've got to get your head up. Keep your head up, man." He's a buddy of mine. He's my merman. He's helped here at [Buddakan]. He opened the restaurant.
You've been open about taking anger-management classes after Season 4. How important was it for you to come back and show everyone you've changed?
Dale: I came back to compete! [Laughs] One, I love to cook, and two, I love competition. I'm one of those failed athletes by genetics. I'm not an athlete because I'm 5-foot-5 and I'm flat-footed and my ankles are terrible. If I could've been an athlete, I would've tried to, but I love to compete. A lot of it was trying to show people I'm a lot more mature this time around. I didn't like who I was. I didn't like seeing myself like that. You really see yourself in a different light when you're put in front of millions of people. Some people dig it and some are like, "You're kind of a jerk." When your mom is embarrassed of your behavior, it says something. I don't ever want to put my parents in a position where they're embarrassed to see me. ... The [fan reaction] has been unbelievable. [The show] really showed me in a great light and I appreciate that.
What's your take on Chicken Oyster-gate?
Dale: You can't patent food, but you also can't straight-up tell people that you ripped this dude's dish off and you won $5,000 and shove it in his face. That sucks. Mike should've told [Richard], "You gave me some inspiration." To be honest, we all [get inspired]. That's why we go out to eat. That's our job. I have to. My owner says, "Dale, you have to eat out twice a week and tell me where you're eating, and it has to be food that's relevant to New York City." I have to take inspiration from that.
Should Richard have shown Mike his idea book?
Dale: No! That's been Richard's thing the whole season. He's been very forthcoming with information. I'm like, "Richie, why are you telling people how to do things? Why are you telling people how to use a pressure cooker?" And then they win! Why are you telling people this? I think he's learned his lesson now. I'm not stingy, but it's like: Dude, do your homework; do your homework. You know you're going on the show, so do your homework.
You're doing a pop-up this Saturday. Are you working on anything else?
Dale: We're doing a pop-up — Bodega [based on his team's winning Restaurant Wars effort]. It's in the Bowery in New York City. It's a one-off now. We're hoping to do more in the future. We want to nail this one down. I'm still shopping Bodega around. We're still looking for investors. I have a dream now and I'm trying to get that dream together. I have two concepts now. I have this Thai/seafood restaurant and Bodega. But right now, I just took a position with a company with Stephen Starr, the culinary director of Buddakan.