MacKay first entered the food industry as a fry cook in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the early 2000s, he moved to London, England, where he got a job at Gordon Ramsay's Claridge's, later moving to other Ramsay restaurants in London, Tokyo and New York City. He later became executive chef at Daniel Boulud's Lumière restaurant in Vancouver, following the departure of Rob Feenie from the establishment in 2007, until its closure in 2011.
He opened his own pair of restaurants, ensemble and ensembleTap, in 2011. He won the Top Chef Canada title soon afterward, investing his prize money in the venues, but closed them in 2012 after determining that rental costs in downtown Vancouver were too expensive for them to become profitable.
In early 2013, MacKay announced that he was returning to his hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to open a new restaurant. The restaurant, named Ayden Kitchen & Bar, opened on November 15, 2013. He is also owner of three other restaurants: Little Grouse on the Prairie (Italian), Sticks and Stones (Korean) and Avenue Restaurant in Regina. He also owned a short-lived pizzeria, Home Slice Pizza Shoppe.
In 2020 he appeared as a judge on the Food Network competition series Wall of Chefs.
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- Da Silva, Michelle (August 27, 2012). "Chef Dale MacKay closes ensemble and ensembleTap restaurants". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- Da Silva, Michelle (February 15, 2013). "Vancouver chef Dale MacKay to open new restaurant in Saskatoon". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2014-01-11.
- "Top Chef opening local spot". The StarPhoenix. Postmedia Network. May 21, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2014-01. Check date values in:
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- MacPherson, Alex (February 18, 2016). "Dale MacKay is changing the way Saskatoon eats". The StarPhoenix. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
- MacPherson, Alex (2017-02-02). "Dale MacKay group to make third Saskatoon restaurant a family affair". The StarPhoenix. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
- "Top Chef winner opens 1st Regina restaurant". CBC News. June 6, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- "Saskatoon's Dale MacKay to compete on 'Iron Chef Gauntlet' cooking show". CBC News. 2018-03-04. Retrieved 2018-12-06.