There are few desserts more iconically American than apple pie. But for Filipino-American chef Dale Talde, the version that drums up feelings of nostalgia didn't come out of mom's kitchen — it came from McDonald's.
"I loved it," the Chicago-born toque told TODAY.com. "I always noticed that the McDonald's apple pie right out of the fryer was the hottest substance on earth. It was Tombstone pizza, McDonald's apple pie and then the sun."
So when it came time for the former "Top Chef" contestant to write his new cookbook "Asian American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from the Philippines to Brooklyn," Talde knew a remix of the original — the fried version that was nixed from McD's menu in 1992 — was essential.
And like the dishes served at his New York City restaurants (pretzel dumplings, breakfast ramen), the Talde version is a blend of both American and Asian influences, calling for store-bought roti flatbread instead of puff pastry.
"I knew there was a way to reverse engineer and make it better and still taste good," he explains. "We were just serving roti bread fried and I wondered what would happen if we stuffed it with something."
The result: a flaky, crispy (and yes, incredibly hot) pocket packed with a tart, cinnamon-flecked apple filling.
Flip through the rest of Talde's book and you'll find many more eclectic recipes with similar East-meets-West twists — think kung pao chicken wings and Vietnamese lamb pitas inspired by New York City's halal carts. They're all a nod to his second-generation upbringing, which included both traditional Filipino cooking at home and fast food runs after basketball games. He hopes that his food will resonate with other second-gen kids and also help give them a voice.
"I think it makes it easier for other people to understand where we're coming from, for people to wrap their heads around who we really are."