'Top Chef Masters' Winner Douglas Keane: I'm Exhausted!
The champion also shares his one regret from the final competition.
Heading into Wednesday night's finale, Douglas told BravoTV.com, "I am extremely exhausted both physically and mentally...It was a lot tougher than I thought."
Still, the Northern California-based chef and certified dog trainer says it was "reinvigorating" to be so close to winning the $100,000 grand prize for the Green Dog Rescue Project, a charity he helped launch last year.
One of the best moments of the season for Douglas, who admits he is "a little uncomfortable with the spotlight," was also about giving back. When asked about which was his favorite challenge, he says, "By far and away, cooking for the teachers. There aren't many real heroes anymore. These four people were heroes. It was perfect timing for me because it focused me on cooking to make people happy instead of trying to win or get a star."
Focused on winning or not, he did just that. Douglas wowed the judges with his meal for the final challenge: Create Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Sous. His meal included duck breast with sake roasted daikon, tamarind, golden pea sprouts, and dates and a Black Sesame Panna Cotta with shattered miso custard, and green tea matcha for dessert.
Douglas said he was happy with all but has second thoughts about the duck. "If I could change anything, I would have done chicken instead of duck. I love cooking chicken, and I love surprising people with how great it can be."
When the judges declared him winner, a surprised Douglas said his initial feeling wasn't celebratory at all. "I felt bad for Bryan and Jen. I wanted to tell them how much I admired them, and I know how hard they worked."
There's plenty of time for that now. "We've kept in great touch and the string of texts every Wednesday between some of us should never be seen!" Douglas said of his former competitors who he called "a great group of smart, inappropriate, and talented people." He even joked about his ongoing bromance with Sang Yoon, saying that after a recent spat over ice cream sprinkles the pair were "working though our current fight and planning a trip to Big Sky Montana to star gaze in December. Hopefully we will be back together by the end of that trip."