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Talde at Thompson Miami Beach: "You Build on Locals"

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Dale Talde is bringing his Brooklyn born-and-bred Talde to the Thompson Miami Beach Hotel this summer.

Talde, along with partners David Massoni and John Bush, has already begun work on the space, located in the southeast corner of the hotel. Although Talde is situated in what can be described as a plush resort hotel (and sharing real estate with veteran toque Michelle Bernstein), the two-time Top Chef contestant has visions of his Talde being anything but an eatery for the 1 percent.

On the contrary, Talde envisions his Miami Beach eatery as a place to grab dumplings and noodles in a casual yet elegant setting. But the chef does recognize the contrast between Park Slope and Miami Beach. "At the beach, you want fresh, bright, and light, and my food can totally translate."

See also: Michelle Bernstein Reappears With Panache at Seagrape

While most menu items -- such as the Korean fried chicken, kale salad, and pork and chive dumplings -- will stay the same, Talde says he's always influenced to some extent by his neighborhood. "I walk to Chinatown in Brooklyn, and you could be in mainland China. You can't help but be inspired by the live fish and whole pigs. Over at Talde Jersey City, there are more Indian and Filipino influences.

"We say the restaurant is Asian-American, but what does that mean in Miami? We want to do a riff on a Cuban sandwich in a bao, with roast pork and pickles. This is also the South, and there's a big tradition of barbecue."

In the end, Talde stresses taste and quality rather than authenticity. "My relatives call me a Fil-Am, and to Americans I'm Filipino. This food speaks to my generation of Asian-Americans who grew up in New York. We're proudly inauthentic. The dishes have roots in different places but really don't attach themselves to any one specific region or country."

Though the taste may be inauthentic, it has to be delicious -- and consistent. The chef say he and his team make sure everything is right before the food leaves the kitchen. "The one thing Stephen Starr and Tom Colicchio both taught me is to taste everything. Stephen Starr told me that as a chef, my job is to eat my own food. Our executive chefs taste everything. That's our standard protocol, and that's the only way to know if something is not right. And if a diner just doesn't like a dish, we'll make them something else."

One thing Talde wants known is that his restaurant will be well priced and local-friendly. "You build your restaurant on locals. You are grateful and thankful that visitors dine at your restaurant, but locals are the rock stars. They're the super-VIPs at my restaurants. I have this guy in Brooklyn who comes in and orders wings and a beer all the time. We always buy him his first round because he's there like four times a week. That's how we build our restaurant."

Talde hopes his restaurant also becomes a hangout for industry folks looking for a shot or a beer and a bowl of steaming ramen at the end of a shift. "To us, the most important thing is that we get the people who live and work in this city involved in the restaurant. It's your restaurant. We're just running it."

Talde has stressed that he'll keep prices reasonable. "Ultimately, the property has a say in margins, but we built Talde on a $20 meal. You get a bowl of ramen, a beer, and a tip for 20 bucks. That's our game plan. I'd rather you come here three times a week than for you to have a huge bill and we see you once every few months."

Asked how often he'll be in Miami Beach, the chef says he's a frequent traveler to the 305. "I helped open Makoto, and I've done a pop-up at Khong River House." He says he doesn't plan to be that chef who opens a million restaurants and is never at any of them. "This is my last name on the restaurant. My executive chef in Miami Beach was my sous-chef in Brooklyn. He opened Talde with me, and he'll be my eyes and ears, but I fully plan on being here through the opening and the beginning of the restaurant. Miami is only three hours away, and we intend to be here all the time. It's an honor to be at our restaurants, eating the food and working."

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