Dale Levitski

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  • Trivia

    • Dale is one of eight former Top Chef contestants who will be teaching a one-off cooking at the New York City's The Culinary Institute of America. He and his fellow chefs will each be preparing one of their signature dishes from the competition along with two complementary courses and a specialty cocktail. Dale's class will be taking place on July 14, 2008.

    • Dale, who works in Chicago, knew fellow Chicagoan Stephanie Izard and suggested that she try out for season 4 of Top Chef. It was good advice, since she won the competition, the first woman to be named Top Chef.

    • Dale admits that his sense of smell, and therefore his palate, is weaker than most of his peers in the business, but that didn't keep him from being a finalist on Top Chef. Of course, he was criticized by the Judges more than once for serving food that was too heavily seasoned, especially when he used hot peppers/chilis.

    • Dale became quite close friends with fellow competitor Sara Nguyen during their time on Top Chef, and in early 2008, when Sara moved to New York, she moved in with him.

    • Dale is one of the alumni contestants who blog on the fourth season of Top Chef at the Bravo website. He also has a blog at Bravo's subsidiary Outzone website.

    • In December 2007, it was announced by the Bravo website that Dale was dating Project Runway season four designer Jack Mackenroth. The two appeared together at the season four finale of Project Runway as they watched the three finalists show their collections.

    • Dale was at the taping of the Kathy Griffin comedy special "Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell", along with Top Chef executive producer Andy Cohen, Padma Lakshmi, and Gail Simmons.

    • Entertainment Weekly named Dale, and fellow Top Chef contestant C.J., to their "Must List" for the week of August 31, 2007. The two men were credited with making their show more palatable for the viewers.

    • Lee Anne Wong, season one competitor for Top Chef and one of the show's producers beginning in the second season, was one of the people who interviewed Dale for the show, though she knew Dale by reputation before the interview took place.

    • Dale doesn't own a car and hasn't had a driver's license for years, so he is happy that Chicago's public transit is very convenient to use.

    • Dale's parents divorced when he was nine, but he says that being a latch-key kid growing up taught him independence at an early age which gave him strength later on in life.

    • Dale is of Russian/Lithuanian/Swedish descent and was a Russian language major at the University of Iowa.

    • As the winner of the semi-finals Elimination Challenge on Top Chef, Dale won a bonus prize of the opportunity to work with world renowned Chef Eric Ripert for a week at the Cayman Islands.

    • Not only is Dale a great chef, he also was one of the few contestants on Top Chef season three who had front of the house experience, which helped his teammates in several team challenges. Since the show ended he has been working at Sola gaining more front of the house experience in order to one day open his own restaurant.

    • Both of Dale's grandmothers were great cooks, and he credits them with inspiring him to pursue a culinary career.

    • Dale admits that he was a bit of a snob about the show Top Chef when it first came on, saying he'd never watch it. But once he saw a couple of episodes he was hooked, and when the opportunity came for him to try out for the third season of contestants, he jumped at it.

    • Dale admits dressing up in drag for one Halloween, but since he looked like Patrick Swayze in To Wong Foo, he never had any desire to do it again.

    • Dale got dumped a week before his audition for Top Chef, but he said that being in Miami on the show was the best thing for him, since there were no other gay men among the contestants, so he couldn't either wallow in self pity or have a meaningless fling. He is now quite happy with his companion Dave, a springer spaniel.

    • Dale is interested in Molecular Gastronomy, and has created his own theory which he calls "flavor math," where he believes the right number of spices can bring the perfect flavor and taste.

    • Dale does diving and gymnastics to stay in shape.

    • Dale found the QuickFire Challenge at Le Cirque, where the Top Chef contestants were asked to recreate a dish that they had just eaten, to be the most difficult. He says it's not because recreating the dish itself was difficult, but because they were asked to do so in Le Cirque's kitchen during the main dinner service on a Friday night, and the staff of Le Cirque were quite intimidating, and the kitchen itself was unfamiliar.

    • Of the cast of the third season of Top Chef, Dale believes he had the second best resume as a chef amongst the competitors, following only Tre Wilcox. Dale has worked at Blackbird, Orange, La Tache, Trio Atelier, Cru, Stone Lotus, Deleece, and Sola.

    • Dale is known on Top Chef for sporting a faux mohawk hairstyle. He shaved his head for years, grew it back, and then went with a mohawk after being dumped by his boyfriend. He now wears it because he considers it quirky and fun, in spite of people regularly teasing him about his hairstyle.

    • Dale came in second place in the third season of Top Chef. The Judges said that Dale won on two of the four courses presented by each competitor, and Hung won the other two. The Judges decided against Dale in spit eof the fact that his two winning dishes were slightly stronger than Hung's two winners because he also served the worst dish of the final round.

  • Quotes

    • Dale: (on "Top Chef's" winner Hung Hyunh) Hung's a great cook. But that's pretty much what he does, he's a cook. He's a sous chef. When you get to the level of executive chef, you're managing, you're doing financials, it's not only about the food. The food is probably 50% of your day when you hit the executive chef level, and I think I had more experience in that compared to most of the people on the cast.

    • Dale: (on his use of instant mashed potatoes for the "Family Favorites" Challenge) I think the fact that the instant mashed potatoes had a brand name, you know, Potato Buds ... if I just said I used potato starch to make the dough, all of a sudden I would have been like, a molecular gastronomic genius. But the fact that actually it came out of a box ... you know, it's kinda funny.

    • Dale: I think a lot of chefs fall short of really understanding and having a personal relationship with your clientele. Know who you are serving and why and what they're looking for. And there are so many egomaniacal chefs that are, 'Here's my food, eat it. And you'll love it.' I want to cook this for you and make you happy, and if it doesn't I'm going to change, I'm going to adapt. A lot of chefs are not humble enough to do it.

    • Dale: (on being part of "Top Chef") Cooking in a restaurant and being in the weeds on your line, that's one thing. That's hard. [But] you take it for granted when you're sitting on the couch watching it and yelling at the TV, calling people an idiot. But you have no idea how hard it really is.

    • Dale: (on his fellow "Top Chef" competitors) We had so much fun together and I think it probably pissed production off because we got along so well.

    • Dale: (on being a contestant on "Top Chef") If you want to play a character then play a character. I wanted to cook and be myself and have as much fun as I possibly could, and learn as much as I possibly could and have a once in a lifetime experience. If the public loves me or hates me, it doesn't matter. I had an amazing experience.

    • Dale: Being a gay chef, there's a preconceived notion of being the big, snappy queen and that's what I've fought against my entire cooking career. I've been cooking for 15 years now and that's the last thing I am in the kitchen. I've walked into kitchens feeling a little under the gun, thinking about what other people are going to think about me being gay, and you definitely have a little bit of insecurity about it. I don't want to say I've overcompensated, but I've become a better chef because of it. It's like, 'Fine, I will be just as good as you. I will prove to you that it doesn't matter. I'm not going to be that little sissy you might think I am. I'm going to be better than you.' And it's worked out for the best.