Douglas Dale was born in Buffalo, New York. As a teenager, he worked in the kitchen of the Club Sheridan where his Dad conducted a band. He was very comfortable in the restaurant business because of his Dad’s long involvement, but never had any intentions of becoming a chef/owner. After attending Antioch College, and because of an exchange program with Japan, he went to Waseda University and developed a keen interest in Japanese food. He first studied oshojin ryori, a twelve-hundred year old Buddhist purification cuisine, and then learned sansai ryori, Japanese mountain foods. After returning to the US and finishing college, he started
working with Chef Hiroshi Hayashi at the Seventh Inn restaurant in Boston.
In 1977, he visited Lake Tahoe and was consumed by its beauty. A year later, his sister and her husband, Jerry Wolf, moved from San Francisco to the Tahoe area and opened Wolfdale’s in Homewood. A year later the Wolf’s decided they hated the restaurant business and Douglas bought them out. It was a Japanese restaurant for the first few years and in 1981, he began to interject his own personality into the foods, sauces and presentations. He called it Pacific Basin.
In 1985, Great Chefs taped him in what the television crew called, “the smallest kitchen in the world”. The New Orleans cameraman had to position his camera outside and shoot inside through the Dutch double doors. It was also the first time this cameraman ever saw snow, which began during the shoot. Chef Douglas was featured in the last Great Chefs series produced for PBS called Great Chefs of the West, which aired the following year on 325 PBS stations and was presented by Austin City Limits founder/producer, Billy Arhos.
In 1986, realizing how small the restaurant really was, Douglas and his wife, Kathleen, put in a low-ball offer on an old logger’s historic home. They didn’t expect to get it, but they did. They had the building towed across the lake from Glenbrook, Nevada to Tahoe City, and expanded the restaurant to its current location. Great Chefs is looking forward to returning to Wolfdale’s to capture all of the changes over the past 30 years.