Chef Dale MacKay returned to Top Chef for this simple reason, interview

TOP CHEF -- Season:20 -- Pictured: Dale MacKay -- (Photo by: Stephanie Diani/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- Season:20 -- Pictured: Dale MacKay -- (Photo by: Stephanie Diani/Bravo) /

As the winner of Top Chef Canada Season 1, Chef Dale MacKay appreciates how the iconic culinary competition can impact a culinary career. After honing his skills in the Gordon Ramsay empire and working under Daniel Boulud, Chef Dale has seen the highs, lows, and in betweens of the restaurant world. Although he has experienced the glory of being crowned a Top Chef champion, his reasoning for stepping into the Top Chef World All-Stars kitchen stays true to his culinary perspective.

During a recent conversation with Chef Dale MacKay, he said that joining Top Chef World All Stars could not have come at a better time. Specifically, he said, “I’ve been excited to do this since I won my season. I used to talk to the producers in Canada and say that we should get the winners together because it would be fun.”

Specifically, Chef Dale said, that “I genuinely love to compete, and I love Top Chef as a viewer.” Recalling when he joined this season, Chef Dale mentioned that he had lost his passion about food. There was worry about how his restaurants would recover after the overall upheaval to the industry in general.

Joining Top Chef World All Stars was “a gift to get back in the kitchen full time and keep cooking.” While he is confident in his own skills, he knows that the competition is about showing up and doing his best. He did not focus on the parts that he could not control. For him, staying confident is about avoiding the worrying and stopping the second guessing.

Although Chef Dale might not have been focusing on what the other chefs were choosing to create, he did appreciate that seeing the final dishes is one of the reasons why Top Chef is engaging television.

Chef Dale MacKay on Top Chef Season 20 World All-Stars
TOP CHEF — Episode 2001 — Pictured: Dale MacKay — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo) /

Chef Dale commented that this Top Chef season had diversity in part because it featured people from all over the world. In challenges where the ingredients were similar, everyone’s different backgrounds showed how the dishes can and do come out so differently. For example, Chef Dale was unfamiliar with cassava but now he is open to using it.

Even though Chef Dale MacKay might not be battling for the Top Chef World All Stars title, he said that his best cooking was featured in Last Chance Kitchen. Although it did not keep him in the competition, Chef Dale said that his final tomato dish was a good representation of his cooking. “It was really about the product and using it in multiple ways. I felt really good about my last dish, I felt like it was strong, and it might have been a winning dish in another situation.”

Reflecting back on other points in the competition, Chef Dale appreciated his dish from the Ritz Cracker challenge. Overall, he felt that the whole experience was a positive one. Although he might not be featuring some of the challenges or ingredients on some of his restaurants’ menus, he is open to the idea.

In some ways, Chef Dale’s Top Chef journey and how he was portrayed on the Bravo food television competition gives a glimpse into how he approaches his time in the kitchen now. Speaking to his time with the Gordon Ramsay restaurant world, Chef Dale appreciated that structure and hard training at the point in his career. Today, his approach is different.

Chef Dale said, “my goal every day is to wake up, to love the people around and to genuinely be happy. If you are not happy doing what you’re doing, what you say you love, why are you doing it. It becomes a chore. While there is a lot of discipline it everything, there is supposed to be a passion. Passion shouldn’t make you angry.” He changed his way of thinking, and it seems to have benefitted him greatly.

Chef Dale MacKay on Top Chef
TOP CHEF — “Rice, Rice Baby” Episode 2002 — Pictured: Dale MacKay — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo) /

Although his time on Top Chef is over, Chef Dale is open to collaborating with some of his fellow chef-testants. Whether it is a dinner with his fellow Canadian Chef Nicole Gomes or heading to Kentucky to cook with Chef Sarah Bradley, there are many possibilities to explore.

For those Top Chef fans looking for a summer adventure, it could be time to head to Saskatchewan. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the fresh produce and other local food options. Luckily, Chef Dale MacKay has several restaurants that are waiting to serve those Top Chef fans.

Top Chef World All Stars, the 20th season of Top Chef, airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST and can be streamed the next day on Peacock. Last Chance Kitchen can be streamed on Peacock and online.