Welcome to The Tastemakers, a series in which we chat with the most talented, connected and influential people in the world of food and drink.
Like many chefs in the culinary world, Dale Talde always loved food and was surrounded by great cooks who inspired him to become a chef. He enrolled himself in the Culinary Institute of America with little experience but eager to learn.
Unlike many chefs, Talde then went on to compete on two seasons of Bravo's Top Chef and work alongside culinary powerhouses like Masaharu Morimoto, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Carrie Nahabedian before opening his own mini empire of Talde restaurants in Brooklyn, Jersey City and, most recently, Miami.
We chatted with Talde about the foods he loves, the trends he can't stand and the chefs who have inspired him along the way.
What does a "typical" day look like for you?
"My days are pretty random. I usually bounce around the restaurants, speak with my chefs, meet with my business partners and then head home to my wife."
What are a few items that are always in your fridge?
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What's the most exciting thing you've done in the last year?
"I got married!"
Which ingredient or dish are you tired of seeing on restaurant menus?
"I'm more tired of seeing the use of tweezers than of any ingredient or dish. I think people are more caught up in placement of a flower and a sprig of dill than learning how to butcher fish or cook a steak properly. You should learn how to cook a three-pound Dungeness crab first."
Who are a few people you really admire in the food industry?
"My mentors. Carrie Nahabedian—she is a cook's cook and was such a help to me. I really wish I'd had my eyes a little more open at the time I worked for her though. I was so green and was just doing what I was told without observing what was happening. I was being an idiot, and I wish I had taken more in. Carrie taught me how to make really great food—it was decadent and over the top in the French way. Years later, looking back at those recipes, I've realized they were filled with such old-school techniques.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is incredible. The things he was doing when I cooked at Vong: Those flavors were so impactful. As a chef, the use of herbs in his food was eye-opening, because the brightness in Filipino cuisine comes from acidity, whereas Jean-Georges used herbs.
Colonel Sanders. That dude's fried chicken is great. It's funny, but it's true; he was a real person making really great chicken. Fried chicken . . . what's more iconic American than that?"
Name a few kitchen tools a chef shouldn't be without.
"A sharp knife —that's why a lot of home cooks are frustrated with cooking. They say it takes so long, but that's because they have a bad knife and it's taking too long to prep. Saying you want to cook but not having a sharp knife is like saying, 'I want to be a DJ, but I just want to rock cassette tapes.' That doesn't work. It doesn't need to be expensive, but it needs to be sharp.
A spoon, because it is an extension of your hand.
And a Microplane, because it's an easy way to grate and make things look really beautiful without doing too much to the product. Grated Parmesan does so much for a dish."
Which dish that's currently on one of your menus are you most proud of?
"My plantain robata with maple tare, bacon powder and scallions, which you could find at Talde Miami Beach. It doesn't get as much shine as it should, but it's absolutely delicious."
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