‘Top Chef’s ‘Angry’ Dale: I Went To Therapy

by | February 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM | Interviews, Top Chef

Dale Talde (Bravo)

Dale Talde (Bravo)

For Dale Talde, gone are the days of Angry Dale. After punching and swearing his way through a large part of “Top Chef’s” fourth season, he decided to work on his issues.  “I went to therapy,” he says. “I got some of the demons out. Hopefully that translated this time on TV.”  Sadly, also gone is his shot at winning “Top Chef: All-Stars.” He was eliminated for an over-mustarded crouton and undercooked potatoes in Wednesday night’s “Gulf Seafood” challenge. On a call from New York Thursday,  the stoner food aficionado discussed his favorite munchies snack, “chef’s law,” and life after “All-Stars.”

Let’s talk about this “chef’s law” debacle. What do you think about Mike appropriating Richard’s recipe?
We all get inspired by people’s food, but straight up ripping people’s food off? It’s like…Yo. But you can’t patent food.

Yeah, but Mike was gloating about winning $5K from Richard’s dish.
That’s kind of like, Dude…really? You’re gonna sit here and rub it in people’s faces? That’s not cool. That’s Mike, though, and I love him for that. We all know how Mikey is.

You cried during your exit interview. Did those feelings resurface while you were watching it?
Sure. It sucked. I’m not a gracious loser. I had to work last night. I was at work and then I got off and went home. I’m prepping for this pop-up [restaurant] so I’m in the juice. I watched the show and went right to bed. I shed some tears, but I’m an emotional guy.

You weren’t thrilled about working on a team. Would have done better on your own?
I definitely would have done better on my own. But you determine your destiny in what you do. If you don’t like working with people, you should tell that person to get your dishes or get you water, and you can bang that out yourself. I didn’t do that. Hindsight is 20/20.

Watch Full Episodes of “Top Chef: All-Stars” on xfinitytv.com

Do you think it was fair of Tom to say you could have waited to serve the judges? I mean, can you really make the judges wait?
It is what it is. They gave me the option to wait, and I served it. It’s my fault. I can’t blame anything I’ve done on other people. You stand up on your own two feet and do your thing.

Do you have any regrets?
I don’t have regrets about how I did or how I came off on the show. But could I have done different dishes and do I re-concept that dish in my head all the time? Of course.

Well, how do you think you came across this season?
I am totally humbled and honored that Bravo showed me in that [positive] light. I did some work on myself. I think people saw it.

Work on things that were going on during your season?
Really just life. Things that happened as a kid. You can’t go through life with this chip on your shoulder. You have to learn to love who you are, and I did that. I learned to love who I am.

Learn How To Make Dale’s Winning Ribeye And Grilled Cheese From Last Week:

How do you feel about Anthony Bourdain dubbing you the “stoner food” chef?
I mean, it takes one to know one, right? I grew up listening to Cypress Hill. I’m a hip hop kid – that’s what we did. I hate to tell my mom that, but am I still doing it now? No. But I was a kid with the munchies all the time.

What was your munchie go-to?
Oh man. I would crush a pint of Häagen-Dazs. Whatever [flavor] it was I would eat the whole thing because I was too lazy to get up and put it back in the freezer.

So, you weren’t doing that much cooking at that point?
Oh no, I was. My old chef used to call me Detox. I was 19 when I started cooking professionally in the kitchen. I was the youngest kid there by far. A lot of those guys didn’t think I was going to make it. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was very consumed by living that pirate lifestyle that Bourdain always talks about.  I’d never read his books, so I didn’t know. Then when I read his books I was like, Oh my God, this makes so much sense.

Personally you’re no longer “Angry Dale,” but how has this experience changed you professionally?
I think part of that change is how you carry yourself in the kitchen. It’s not the same kitchen as it was 13 years ago when I first started cooking. Back then it was common for people to throw plates and spoons at you when you’re cooking, and that’s how I started cooking. That’s how I was on [my season of] the show. But you can’t talk to people like that. You can’t work yourself up like that. Life’s too short and you’ll put yourself in an early grave.

How has your career benefited from being on the show?
There have been a lot of opportunities that have come my way. I’m trying to figure out what’s best for me. I’ve just recently taken the position of being the culinary director of Buddakhan restaurants. It’s still my goal to own my own restaurants. I’m working on two concepts now – one is a Bodega and one is a Thai/Southeast Asian restaurant.

What’s up with this pop-up restaurant?
It’s this Saturday in the Bowery. It’s 36 people right now, but we’re hoping to increase it. We’re keeping a low profile. We want to run this one really well the first time.

What are you calling it?
Bodega, presented by Family Meal, which is me and two of my friends.

Bodega like Restaurant Wars Bodega?
Exactly.