Interview with Top Chef Contestant Dale Talde

Come Holler at Top Chef's Dale Talde


A lot of you were disappointed with the outcome of last night's Top Chef. While you were thrilled to see restaurant wars return, you weren't all ready to say goodbye to Dale Talde. The frustrating interaction between Lisa and him may have ended on the screen, but that doesn't mean Dale likes the gal. I spoke with Dale yesterday and there's no love lost between them, there just was never any to begin with. To read what he had to say about his time on Top Chef, and what he's working on next, just read more.

YumSugar: How'd you get involved with Top Chef?
Dale Talde:
An ex-girlfriend had been pleading for me to go, and my entire linestaff at Mormimoto pleaded for me to try out. And then one day, going to work I realized that the auditions were across the street. They were actually done with the open casting, and were packing up when I walked in unprepared without a resume. I just sat down and talked to them, and they ended up casting me.

YS: Was it what you expected?
DT:
Hell no! I mean, it was a great experience and wonderful, but what are you expecting with 16 people in one house? You're busting your hump everyday, working, and then drinking like a fish. It was hardcore. It's something I'll remember forever. It was an awesome experience.

YS: What was it like seeing yourself on TV?
DT:
It was surreal, and embarrassing at times. It's embarrassing seeing yourself out of shape. [laughs] You think maybe I should have worked out a little more. But I represented. You say dumb things once in a while, and I said them with a couple cocktails and beers in me, but that's life. I've done more embarrassing things.

YS: Okay, let's just get down to it. On the show you really don't seem to like Lisa. Is that all editing or...?
DT:
No, it was not editing. I do not get along with people who are that negative. I don't surround myself with negative people. My friends love to have a good time, and can get through hard times without having to vocalize. No, I don't like her. I don't like her as a person. Professionally I work with a lot of people I don't like, and I'm sure there are a lot of people who hate me and you just get through it. But it wasn't work, it was a competition. I really don't like Lisa. Personally she's someone I'd never hang out with. Is she a bad person? No, but she's negative.


YS: So do you think it would have been completely different had you won the quickfire challenge?
DT:
Are you kidding me? Of course it would have been. It would've been like Pippen, Lebron, and Rodman. It would've been me, Stephanie, and Richard, that would've been the squad. [Pauses] Like I've told people, you could have put Thomas Keller or Charlie Trotter on that team and they would have gone down. It was like a JV squad, there was no way, we had no chance of winning. I should have played the game better. I should have let Lisa be the executive chef. You live and learn.

YS: What was going through your mind when Antonia picked her team.
DT:
I was... [pause] I want to swear, but they're censoring me. I was screwed. I was done. I mean come on, you know the talent level at that point. There were three people who have been executive chefs on one team, and then us.

YS: Other than letting Lisa be executive chef, is there anything you'd have done differently?
DT:
Nah, I might have drank a little less, and got my gut down. I started getting a little fat. Listen, the experience is once in a lifetime. I mean that scallop dish was a failure, it wasn't good. I mean otherwise. Well wedding wars, maybe I'd have taken on less. I would've done less, executed things differently and better. But the experience was great. I'm not one to shy away from emotion. The fans can see who and what I am. I am who I am. I don't back down.

YS: So what are you working on now?
DT:
I'm still working at Buddakan, and I'm still in pursuit of the perfect dish. There are a lot of opportunities for people who get exposure like this. Actually, I have this restaurant movie in my head. You go out to eat, and things come up. I'm not leaving cooking, I'm a chef, that's the only thing I know how to do. But I'm trying to buckle down and write this screenplay that I've had in my head for the last five to six years. I want to travel and get together an itinerary, and push ideas for a TV show. Keep my face in the media. I think it could be fun.

YS: Quite a few of our readers were upset to hear you got booted off. Do you have any last words to say to them?
DT:
Thanks for the support. I've got a lot of people telling me that I shouldn't have gone home, and while that's great, it's just part of life. So thanks for the support, and they can always vote me as a fan favorite and show them that the wrong person was sent home. And you know, come to New York and holler at your boy.

Photos courtesy of Bravo

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