Top Chef: All-Stars' Dale Levitski tried to take a risk when tasked with making a dish inspired by chef David Burke's style, but his whimsy veal with popcorn and peanuts was just too over-the-top for the judges' taste. TVGuide.com caught up with Chicago native and Sprout restaurant owner to find out what he thinks contributed to the downfall of the dish and why he calls being eliminated "a compliment." Plus: See what message he has for his fellow cheftestants.
TVGuide.com: What was the thought process behind taking such a risk with your sweet veal dish?
Dale: Townhouse was so over-the-top and whimsical and funny and all those things. I think the rest of our team was really conservative. I went for peanuts and popcorn and I tried to go over-the-top and it didn't work out. We try to cook in our own style and to be pulled out of that was, I think, my demise. I went in very confident, but a little reticent about what I was trying to accomplish. It was go big or go home, and I got the a-- end of that deal.
TVGuide.com: What did you think of the judges' decision?
Dale: I think they're doing want they can to be as fair and objective as possible. In seeing the episode, to me, it felt like they flipped a coin. I feel like if it was a single elimination instead of a double, I would have been there. My dish was too sweet. I agree with the judges. I used store-bought chicken stock, and I make everything from scratch, so when I reduced it, it became too bitter. The dish was supposed to be sweet and savory, so I dumped it out to make more stuff edible.
TVGuide.com: You said in your exit video that it was an honor to be eliminated. What did you mean?
Dale: When the challenge is to cook in another chef's style, I take being eliminated as a compliment because I couldn't. I cook in my style. When you have to switch out and not cook as yourself, the fact that I failed is a compliment because it means I'm so ingrained in what I do, and that's what you have to do as a chef. It means my career is on the right track.
TVGuide.com: How would you compare your experience on All-Stars to your first go-around?
Dale: My first season was a blast. I had so much fun and made amazing friends. Sara Nguyen from Season 3 is my roommate, my sous chef and an amazing cook. So if it was not for Season 3, I would not have my best friend. On All-Stars, we all sort of knew each other and there was a lot of boys club s--- going on, and it seemed like a lot of chefs' self-worth seemed to be banking on their failure or success on that show. I'm just not that person. There's no shame in being eliminated from Top Chef: All-Stars. Every one of us is there for a reason. So finish with dignity. I will say this to all my other fellow contestants: You're all awesome, bow out with pride. It's not the end of the world.