Pedigree: Trained at the Culinary Institute of America. Worked in his hometown of Chicago at Spring, Kevin, Naha and with fellow TC4 contestant Stephanie Izzard at Vong's Thai Kitchen under Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Talde then moved to New York, where he worked as chef de cuisine at Morimoto before his current post at Buddakan.
The dish: “When he was a sous-chef at Opera, he called one of my farmers and wanted some suckling pig,” says chef Kevin Shikami, of Chicago’s Kevin restaurant. “The guy told him that it was some price, say $13, and he thought ‘Oh, good’ and bought a bunch. It got delivered and he didn’t realize that it was $13 a pound, and it cost him over a thousand dollars. He had to take that bill to the accounts guys, and they really blew it. I don’t think he’ll ever order suckling pig again.”
The buzz: Despite Talde’s I-take-myself-very-seriously pretense on the Bravo Web video, Shikami insists that when Talde worked as a lunch cook in his kitchen he always liked a good laugh. “Maybe he had an epiphany when he got to New York. When he worked for me he was more into working and having fun—a cook’s life kind of thing.”
The verdict: Talde likes to entertain those around him, says his former boss, but he can work hard when necessary. “It will be tough,” says Shikami, with an eye to Talde’s Chicago-based competition like Izzard. “It will be interesting to watch."
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