"In America, you don't get what you don't ask for," says chef-restaurateur, Top Chef contestant, and cookbook author Dale Talde. "You have to punch and kick and scream to get what you want." On this week's episode of Special Sauce, I talk to Talde—one of the truly original, provocative thinkers in the food world today—about the foods he was raised on and the struggles he's faced.
When Talde was growing up in Chicago, his mother, Eva—a registered nurse—used to cook a traditional Filipino dish made with pig's blood, which she told her kids was chocolate soup. His reply? "I know that's not chocolate. You don't need to fool me." He ate it and loved it. Talde grew up relishing whole fish, organ meat, and the like: "Nose to tail cooking—that was just how we ate," he explains. "My house was not a democracy. It was the republic of Eva. Whatever she wanted to eat, she made."
But Talde also rebelled: "I'm going to go play ball for five hours and eat whatever the fuck I want to eat. We never once said, 'Let's go get some Filipino food.' We said, 'Let's go get pizza, burgers, or wings.'" He's (mostly) unabashed in his love for Popeye's Fried Chicken with a pile of white rice: "I start putting ranch dressing on it and then I start to feel bad about myself, so I balance it out by watching CNN."
Tune into Special Sauce to hear Talde's thoughts on the rampant ethnic stereotyping in serious restaurant kitchens, the heroes he'd invite to his final supper, and the classic American ingredients that he thinks chefs should really stop making in house.