Executive Chef Charles Dale describes his cooking as modern rustic. Originally from Nice, France, Dale moved to the States when he was 10 years old. He refers to his international training as “sur le tas”, the French way of saying, “on the job”. Dale trained at New York's famed Le Cirque, Georges Masraff's restaurant in Paris and the Plaza Athenee Hotel in New York under Daniel Boulud. Dale later opened three of his own restaurants in Aspen, Colorado: Renaissance, Rustique Bistro and Range. He has been recognized by Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in America. The James Beard Foundation nominated him twice as Best American Chef in the Southwest. Now, as executive chef for Terra, the signature restaurant at Encantado Resort in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Dale talks to Chefs.com about his passion for food.
Chefs.com: What’s the nicest compliment you’ve ever received from a customer?
CD: “This is the best Sea Bass I have ever eaten,” from Julia Child. It’s my proudest moment as a chef.
Chefs.com: What was your most embarrassing moment?
CD: It would be when Jacques Pepin hid my Perigord truffles at a big event. I was looking all over for them, until I saw him in a corner with a grin on his face and bulging pockets.
Chefs.com: What’s the hardest dish you make?
CD: Three Little Pigs: Tenderloin of Pork in Adobo Sauce with Cilantro-Radish Salad, Pork Cheek Enchiladas in a Casuela with Mole Sauce, Braised Pork Belly with Edamame-Green Chile Purée and Pomegranate Glaze.
Chefs.com: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened at your restaurant?
CD: A guy proposed to his girlfriend on Valentine’s night at the beginning of a 7-course tasting menu. She declined and they stayed and ate anyway, while he cried. Tragic. My waiters didn’t want to go to the table.
Chefs.com: What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?
CD: Work for the best chefs you can find and absorb EVERYTHING. Don’t go for the money or the fame, but for the EXPERIENCE. And most important: know that cuisine is a jealous mistress, and that she will occupy most of your time; be ready to sacrifice for her.