A friend sent me a link to another interview with Top Chef contestant Dale Talde, this time on BuddyTV.com. It covers some of the same ground as the Chow.com interview I discussed in my previous post, but he spent a good chunk of the interview defending himself amidst criticism that he only cooks Asian food.
Are you going to (ask) an Italian chef, “Why do you only do Italian food?” Are you going to (ask) Alain Ducasse, “Why do you only do French food?” My food is inspired by Asia…ALL of Asia…the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. You want to talk about Asia? Asia is enormous.
In Season 2, Ilan Hall won the title of Top Chef by relying on his background cooking Spanish food. At least Dale was drawing from an entire continent for influence, not just a single country.
If Dale was bothered by anything, it was the criticism of his vision.
Criticize my execution if you want to. If my dish wasn’t good, fine, I’ll take it back. Don’t you in your life ever criticize my vision. It’s MY vision, not your vision.
Dale also said he had no problem throwing down with anyone if they wanted to cook Italian food or French food, but he finds that food boring because the flavors don’t “pop out” to him.
My flavors are big and bold and bright and in your face, and sweet, sour, salty come all at you. I’m not going to sit there and roast a piece of rack of lamb, and cook some noodles, and deglaze with white wine and shallots and then put it on a plate. That’s not who I am. Chilis…vinegar…miso paste. That’s what I do.
Dale was adamant about creating new dishes on the show instead of playing it safe.
Unlike some of my other competitors…I had never done some of that food before. I never did that food. Maybe that was a mistake of mine, too, from an execution standpoint. What I’m not going to do is sit there and recreate dishes that I did at my restaurant. I’m not going to do that. Why? Because it’s not about “Hi, you’re the best chef” and now bite every recipe off all these people. It’s about Dale making his own food and about putting my food in the forefront. Maybe I should have toned my style down, but I failed. I didn’t execute a good dish. The scallop dish was weak. I knew it was weak.
He also broke down his thought process on the ill-fated butterscotch scallop dish.
When you do a miso sauce, there’s a lot of sugar involved in it. The idea of caramelizing the sugar and turning it into a butterscotch and then adding miso…I like salty/sweet. It’s always a combination that I love. That’s what that is. Maybe not so good with scallops, maybe better off with something else like a piece of cod or something a little more savory?scallops have a natural sweetness to it. I had never made that before, and I put it on a plate and that was my downfall.
Ironically, I was watching on old episode of Iron Chef America the other day and Iron Chef Cat Cora, in a honey battle versus Citizen Cake’s Elizabeth Faulkner, caramelized some honey on top of a scallop successfully. So Dale may have been on the right track with the butterscotch…
Listen to the entire interview here.