Chef Dale Talde Is Building an Empire out of Park Slope
Before he built a career under Jean-Georges, Stephen Starr, and Morimoto; before he did Top Chef; and before he became the chef and partner in three different restaurants -- Talde (369 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-916-0031), Pork Slope (247 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-768-7675), and Thistle Hill (441 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-599-1262) -- in the span of ten short months, Dale Talde learned to make rice.
The son of Filipino immigrants -- his parents came to the States in the late 60s after his mother received a work visa for nursing -- he was tasked with making rice for his father's dinner each night, a chore he split with his siblings. And while he thought of that as simply something he had to do, it was his first foray into what would eventually become life in the kitchen, and the groundwork for his interest in the food from his parents' homeland.
After high school, Talde headed off to the Culinary Institute of America, and when he graduated, he says, he was a terrible cook. He returned to Chicago, where he grew up, and started working at Outback Steakhouse until he spotted an ad for a position at Vong, which he quickly learned was one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants. When he went in for his interview, he was asked to do a tasting. "I was like, I'm a line cook -- they want me to cook?" he recalls. "I had to do two dishes in an hour. I fell on my face. It was awful. But they said, 'It was awful, but we really like your attitude and you seem to be familiar with this food.'" He landed the job, which springboarded him to positions at a number of Chicago restaurants before he moved to New York City.
Here in New York, he worked under Morimoto and then took a chef de cuisine position at Buddakan, eventually making the leap to director of Asian concepts for Starr Restaurants. In 2012, he teamed up with David Massoni and John Bush to open Talde in Park Slope; two days before that restaurant's debut, they landed the lease for Pork Slope. "I'd never do it again," he says. Especially because not long after that, the trio took partnership at Thistle Hill, too.
In this interview, Talde weighs in on building restaurants for the neighborhood, fixing mistakes, and what he learned from Stephen Starr.