The Untold Truth Of Dale Talde

Less than a decade ago, when Dale Talde ruled the Park Slope, Brooklyn dining scene, his menus included a hangover-cure oyster pad thai (via Vice), a fried chicken plate inspired by McDonald's McNuggets (via Google Books), and a Filipino shaved-ice dessert topped with Cap'n Crunch. The daring young chef who first made his brash reputation on seasons 4 and 8 of "Top Chef" figured out his purpose in life soon after his TV moment. 

In Brooklyn, his in-your-face cooking style found a customer base that wanted something new and different on their plates. "In a way, I got lucky," Talde wrote in the introduction to his cookbook, "Asian-American" (via Google Books). "Diners used to want food to be a pat on the back, not an uppercut to the chin. By the time I opened my first restaurant, they were ready to be transported or challenged." Talde isn't looking to go down in culinary history. It's all been in the name of fun. "Hopefully, my legacy is that I'm a guy who loved to have a good time," he told The Village Voice.

Talde burst on the New York restaurant scene, opening three restaurants in 10 months in 2012. He and his business partners would go on to open five more restaurants in New York, with additional locations in Jersey City and Miami (via Grub Street). All of that would come to a sudden halt. Talde is down to just one restaurant now, but his TV career is seeing a revival.

At first, Dale Talde was not a good cook

Dale Talde wasn't always a good cook. His first experience making a meal was at age 10 or 11 when he used a recipe from a box of Aunt Jemima mix to make apple pancakes (via First We Feast). The result was chewy and otherwise unmemorable. His first restaurant job was at Outback Steakhouse. "I was absolutely terrible," Talde told Vice. "Pretty bad when you get stoned before you go to work and then you try and work a station, and you're not really good at cooking as it is."

Talde would take a big step up in his career by landing a job at Vong, an Asian restaurant in Chicago by world-famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (via Google Books). He's not sure how he got the job. "I fell on my face" during the interview, he told CBS This Morning, after he was asked to create a dish from a basket of ingredients. "God bless the chefs there – Geoff Felsenthal, shout-out – 'cause he apparently saw something."

You'd think Talde would want to prove to Felsenthal that the executive chef had made the right decision taking a chance on him. But Talde wasn't ready to take his work seriously yet. "Before my shifts at Vong ... I'd get stoned outside," Talde wrote in his cookbook, "Asian-American" (via Google Books). "I kept my job solely because I showed up and didn't give a f*** what I was getting paid."

Dale Talde gets serious about restaurant work

Soon enough, Dale Talde did worry about how much he was paid. He was in debt, working back-to-back shifts at two different three-star restaurants every day (via Google Books). He started taking work seriously – or at least what passed as "seriously" for Talde. He put his head down and did what his chef asked him to do. Once his bosses started seeing him as a good cook, Talde wrote in "Asian-American," they typecast him as the guy who could make Asian food. When the head chef asked him to make tempura, he did – by reading a recipe off of a box. Chef loved it, and, as Talde wrote, "My reputation was born."

Talde would go on to solidify his reputation as a master of Asian food at two A-list Stephen Starr restaurants in New York: Morimoto and Buddakan. Still not satisfied, Talde walked into "Top Chef" auditions on a whim and was chosen for Season 4. During his time on the show, his competitors branded him "the punk Asian kid" – a label Talde didn't dispute. His coworkers at Buddakan would have approved, too. "TV people love a**holes," they told him. "And you're a real a**hole."

'Top Chef' was just the start of Dale Talde's TV career

Dale Talde didn't win Season 4 of "Top Chef." He had the dubious honor of hearing Anthony Bourdain tell him his miso-butterscotch scallops were "jaw-droppingly bad" (via Google Books). He was called back to do Season 8, the first "All Star" season, but came up short again (via Chicago Tribune). Thinking his moment in the TV spotlight was over, Talde jumped at an opportunity to open his own restaurant (more on that later). But television kept calling Talde back. He competed on "Top Chef Duels," "Celebrity Chopped," and "Iron Chef America," according to Talde's website. He also appeared as a judge on "Chopped" and "Chopped Junior," "Beat Bobby Flay," and "Knife Fight."

Talde had fun during a "Top Chef" reunion of sorts (via Bravo). He was a guest judge on Season 18, "Top Chef: Portland," which just concluded on Bravo. He was reunited with Tiffany Derry, who was on "All Stars" with him (via Top Chef Stats), and Richard Blais, who competed against Talde in seasons 4 and 8. But the chef whose many culinary achievements include a hangover cure said he and the other "Top Chef" elder statesmen took it easy during their time in Portland. "I'll let the double-digit guys in the teens [seasons] rage," Talde told Bravo. "Let the old guys kind of just chill out."

As Distractify reported, Talde stuck around in Portland to assist one of the contestants in the new spinoff "Top Chef Amateurs."

The rise and fall of Dale Talde's restaurant empire

Well before Dale Talde's "Top Chef" revival in 2021, he parlayed his TV fame into an opportunity to own his own restaurant. The manager of the New York restaurant 'inoteca recognized Talde from "Top Chef" as soon as he walked in the door (via Vice). That restaurant manager was David Massoni, who along with Talde and John Bush would form Three Kings Restaurant Group and open Talde Brooklyn, according to a 2019 article from Eater New York.

"'Top Chef' gave me enormous opportunity," Talde told Vice during an interview at Talde Brooklyn. "If I hadn't gotten on the show I probably wouldn't be here." After opening, the restaurant in the trendy Park Slope neighborhood with a TV chef's name on it filled up every night (via Manhattan Digest). Success propelled Talde and his partners to open several more restaurants, including the Italian-Asian Massoni – per a 2016 Eater New York article – and another Talde in Jersey City, which The New York Times found to be hit-or-miss.

Three Kings Restaurant Group hit some rough spots, closing some restaurants, facing lawsuits in others, as Eater reported in 2019. Three Kings dissolved suddenly, and Dale Talde started up a new business entity, Food Crush Hospitality, with his wife. Talde's new venture got off on the right foot. His newest restaurant, Chinese-themed Goosefeather in Tarrytown, New York, got rave reviews. Esquire named it one of its best new restaurants of 2020 (via lohud).

Dale Talde is keeping busy in 2021

Dale Talde's latest restaurant, Goosefeather, weathered the COVID-19 pandemic but unexpectedly closed for the summer in 2021 (via Putnam Daily Voice). Ironically, this was a COVID-related decision that came after the pandemic's threat had subsided. Goosefeather, in the Tarrytown House Estate hotel, posted a message on social media saying the decision was completely out of its hands: "We were notified by the Tarrytown House Estate that the entire property must close its doors to the public in an effort to reorganize and reassess after a difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Goosefeather is scheduled to reopen in late August. Meanwhile, Talde has other projects keeping him busy. He is no fan of airport food and has been critical of LaGuardia in particular for not even offering a decent cup of coffee. "It might be the worst airport," Talde told InsideHook. Now, he's trying to elevate LaGuardia's fare. Bravo reports that Talde Noodle and Dumpling is coming soon to the airport's Terminal B.

Talde is also hosting his own show: "All Up in My Grill," which premiered on June 30 on Tastemade (via Distractify). Talde will show viewers how to get the most out of their backyard grills. Hot dogs and hamburgers will take a back seat to lobster and clams. "Hopefully, the things we do on the show can give you inspiration to get out there and grill and make some fun food," Talde said.

You already know, if it's Dale Talde it's going to be fun.