It’s a beautiful summer day when Dale Talde starts filming his new TV series. Standing in a picturesque garden, Talde watches over his surroundings. On a table in front of him is a panoply of culinary tools and at his side, a silent grill, soon animated by the smoke of charred meat. When the shoot begins, he speaks naturally, explaining each step of the recipe effortlessly. As a former Top Chef alumnus and guest on countless food TV shows (Chopped and Iron Chef America), Talde is a seasoned TV professional. Shooting a cooking show is just another day at the office for Talde.
All of this is featured in Talde’s new TV project, Everything in my grill (premiered on Tastemade on June 30). The show has a singular objective but a thesis defying the statute. While each episode focuses on the art of flame grilling, it’s not your typical grilling show. Talde’s goal is to showcase the diversity of the common garden grill beyond the standard menu of hot dogs and barbecue chicken. The show’s mission is to make grilling smooth, creative and fun.
âWith a little creativity, imagination, and strength, you can turn your outdoor grill into just another extension of your indoor kitchen,â Talde said. âWhatever you use in your normal kitchen, you should use it as equipment for your grill. Do you know those giant barbecue tongs and giant barbecue spatulas? This stuff is all garbage. If you want to cook well, cook with what you normally cook – your normal spatula, tongs. It must obviously be heat resistant. But all of this will help you cook on a regular grill.
As a three-time competitor to Top Chef and successful restaurateur, Talde has a lot of culinary knowledge to share about grilling. But there is also something interesting about the food presented in his new show. In the first episode of Everything in my grill, it demonstrates a unique touch to the pleasant rack of ribs by infusing it with the sweet and aromatic Chinese flavors of Char Siu. Even the sliders that Talde makes feature the unconventional addition of a flavored mayonnaise rich in Korean kimchi.
This cultural crossbreeding style is the key to Talde’s eccentric cooking style. Much of Talde’s food featured on the show and in its restaurants is a blend of international cultures and ingredients. While his cooking style is strongly tied to his Filipino American upbringing in Chicago, he is also a strong advocate for change and authenticity through the lens of lived experiences instead of the strict tradition. Perhaps the best representation of Talde’s food philosophy is his cookbook,. Here, Talde’s cuisine is on display with recipes such as Korean-style fried chicken with raisins and a McDonald’s-inspired apple pie made from frozen Indian roti and packaged as a crust. All of this food is described by Talde as âproudly inauthenticâ.
âYou can’t help but be influenced by what is around you,â Talde said. âI live in Chicago and love tacos. There’s a reason I love tacos. First of all, everyone loves tacos, but second, there is a huge Mexican population (in Chicago) and amazing Mexican food all the time. So it naturally influenced my palate because I grew up eating it.
This challenge of tradition and the blending of global techniques and ingredients is practiced by many Asian American chefs. Fusion can be a dirty word in the culinary world, conjuring up images of messy and convoluted Pan-Asian dishes peddled by corporate restaurant chains or celebrity chefs. But for Talde, combining different cultures and traditions can be fantastic – all you need to do is start from a framework of respect.
âThe French chef who’s an Asian woman, who only dates Asian women and puts lemongrass on his white butter and calls it Asian food, that’s a job,â said Talde. âThat’s not it. There are a lot of white chefs who do Asian food and really respect it. Andy Ricker, the guy is an authority on Thai food, he has a real respect for that. those other chefs who saw it on tv, never traveled there, have no respect for it, who put chili in their white butter or other classic French sauces and call it fusion Asian, it’s not real, there’s no respect in that.
This idea of ââchange championed by Talde is not without criticism in the community, especially among some older Asian Americans. For those of the older generation, many of whom proudly cling to the concept of tradition and authenticity, changing time-honored recipes can be seen as disrespectful. âThis is the generation of aunts. They’re the ones who say ‘hey, this is not real Filipino food’. I never said it was. And I’m not really entirely Filipino and even though I was, you have to adapt, âTalde said.
Talde represents a generational shift towards the idea of ââbeing an Asian American. Talde, like many young Asian American chefs and food media professionals, are the sons and daughters of immigrants. While their parents’ formative years were spent in Asia, second generation individuals like Talde grew up in America surrounded by different experiences and cultures. For young Asian Americans, the idea of ââcreating a new identity centered on being truly Asian American cannot happen without profound innovation. Although Talde’s parents didn’t grow up with Mexican tacos or McDonalds, he did, and this taste memory has a direct influence on his cooking. For this new generation of culinary talent, this push to new heights of creativity is simply the next step in Asian American culture.
âA lot of us are in our 30s and 40s,â Talde said. âWe should be doing the things we do, becoming entrepreneurs who start our own businesses, writing cookbooks, becoming executive chefs. It’s just natural.