I have been a big fan of Dale Talde for quite some time now. As someone who is an avid “Top Chef” fan, I saw his ferocious personality and cooking ability shine through in not only “Top Chef: Chicago” but also in “Top Chef: All Stars”, where he should’ve made it quite further in both seasons (IMO). Now, with the help of the show and his own drive and determination, he has successfully launched his restaurant simply called “Talde” in the heart of Park Slope, Brooklyn. “Talde” just celebrated its second anniversary of being open, and consistently has a packed house on a nightly basis, and is helping the thriving area of Park Slope become known for a foodie destination for all New Yorkers to experience. I got to sit down with the Culinary Institute of America grad a couple of days ago to find out more about him and this fantastic eatery.
So tell me about Talde itself, was this something that you were always dreaming of?
I always wanted this to be something. A casual table joint, per se. I wanted a restaurant but didn’t know what it was going to be, to be honest with you. The menu was always in my head, but this was a style of restaurant that I always wanted to do. It has just became more than I thought it was going to be. We are very focused on giving what the neighborhood wants and giving cues based off of the feedback they have given us. We wanted to be more casual in the beginning, like for instance we had a wedge salad originally. It went over like a light balloon, because people were like “I am not going to come here and wait an hour and a half just for a wedge salad that I can get down the street”. That was how long the wait was when we opened this up. We then changed and added more things that were playful but stuff that wasn’t dumbed down, which wasn’t intentional. More importantly we were cooking for us originally, but now we are are doing it for the community.
You obviously had a very fiery personality when you were on “Top Chef”, does that equate into how you are in your everyday life as well?
I mean, for me I think there is a passion for the job itself. I learned how to manage more in the last two years than I have ever done in my fourteen years of cooking. How to talk to people, what people need from you, etc. It’s a different day and age now, like originally the chef would take a plate and throw it at me. Literally. When I was cooking, I was getting shit talked to non stop, all day. And rightfully so, to a certain degree, because my skill set wasn’t there yet. Now I have become more professional as a cook and hopefully my staff would agree and say I am a better manager now. You have to learn what people need to get the most out of them.
What is your favorite thing on your menu here at “Talde”?
The King Crab Fried Rice. Hands down. Fried Rice is my favorite thing to eat, so that is an easy answer.
What has “Top Chef” really done for your career, being on that show not once but twice?
It has been a real springboard for this. It definitely helps, the notoriety of course. That was a long time ago. It’s definitely a part of my past and I love it, but its been a long time since I have been on that show. To me what’s most important is this. Being famous is completely secondary to running three restaurants. It’s not even about the radar, I don’t give a fuck if people know who I am. I just want to be the guy who runs a successful restaurant and a good chef, the fame part of all of this is bullshit. If opportunities come because of it, great, but its not important to me.
What is your hopes for this year?
Pay off my investors, for sure. People have trusted you with their money, and you want to do right by them. I want my staff to be happy, and am looking forward to opening up a new location in Jersey City. I would love to do Manhattan further down the line, but we are perfectly happy with not being there right now. We are happy with markets that are under served. Manhattan is saturated with fantastic restaurants, but we are happy with going to communities that are the opposite. Park Slope was an area that needed something like this, and we are glad to be apart of it.
Great guy with a confident and good head on his shoulders. On top of the interview, I got to taste some of the food they have their and let me tell you- they don’t disappoint. The King Crab Fried Rice that Dale Talde mentioned early on was HANDS DOWN the best rice I have had in my entire life. The flavor explosion in your mouth is truly remarkable and is a test to how well of a chef he really is. Other standouts at Talde include their Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings and Kung Pao Chicken Wings as appetizers, and their Bacon & Oyster Pad Thai as an entree. Anytime the words Pretzel, Wings and Bacon are used it dishes usually lead to one freaking happy Ryan, and this rang true for all three. If you ever want to get your ass out of Manhattan and take the F train downtown to see what else is out there in the foodie world of NYC, then Talde is the place to go. Definitely a 5 out of 5 experience for me. Check out the website for more information, and congrats to Dale Talde on all his success.
369 7th Avenue, Park Slope