Lesley Suter's 'Ratatouille' Moment

Best of the Best

Francis Lam: What's on the Menu?

Curtis Stone's Lemon Creams with Poached Cherries

Bryan Voltaggio: "I Thought I Won. I Know I Won."

Jennifer Jasinski Was a "Great Miracle"

What it Takes to Be Top Chef Master

The Finale Countdown

Doug and Sang: Bad Romance?

Sang is Back!

David Burke Has Titanium Balls

See Ya, Suckers!

Why Jennifer Jasinski Didn't Go Home

James Oseland's Teacher Tribute

Gail: "I Still Can't Believe Sang was Eliminated"

The Strangest Episode of 'Top Chef Masters' Yet?

Lesley Suter: On Tongue, Flautadillas, and Birthday Cake

What Has Curtis Stone "Spewing"?

A Series of Unfortunate Culinary Events Leaves Blood on the Mat

Gail: "We Couldn't Excuse Neal"

Lesley Suter: Hey, Chefs, Why So Raw?

Pull it Together, Sang!

Francis Lam: I liked Sang's Fish

Curtis Stone in Nacho Libre

Gail Simmons: "Neil Went for Our Bellies"

The Evolution of Sue Zemanick

Curtis Stone: Throwing Curveballs

Ruth Reichl: "I'd Rather Be Training a Nation of Food Warriors"

When Plex Met Toodee

'Top Chef Masters' ' Toughest Critics Yet

Gail Simmons: No "Chef" in Lynn's Dish

Restaurant Wars: 'Getting' Busy

Francis: A New Kind of Locavorism

What Being a Chef Really Means

Ruth Reichl's Perfect Los Angeles Restaurant

Restaurant Wars' Controlled Chaos

Franklin Just Did Too Much

Curtis and Lindsay: A Perfect Pairing

Curtis Stone: This Episode Sends Hearts Racing

Franklin, Can You Hear Me?

James Oseland Fights for Franklin

Lesley Suter's 'Ratatouille' Moment

Doug's food gives the critic hope for the future of food.

If there’s one question I get asked more than any other about my experience judging Top Chef Masters, it’s this: Is the food as good as it looks? In general, the answer is unequivocally YES, but I have to say that the dishes served on this season’s epic finale were among the finest I’ve had the pleasure of eating. 

As someone that dines for a living, it can be easy to become jaded—to allow one perfectly prepared velouté blend into the next sublime portion of grass-fed beef short rib. It’s obnoxious to talk about—and I’m certainly not asking for sympathy—but the result is that I carry on waiting for dishes that snap me out of the food-writing fog. I like to say that these meals “make the room go quiet,” or gave me that “Ratatouille moment.” You know, when the mean critic takes a bite of the Remy’s dish and is whooshed out of the present back to his happy childhood? Well, this Top Chef Masters finale meal did exactly that. 

In particular, two of Douglas’ dishes—the mussel broth with white wine, saffron, fennel puree, and uni, as well as the soba-wrapped ocean trout with ginger dashi and groats—had me looking forward not only to the dinner’s subsequent courses, but to the future of food. This is a kind of cooking that I’m thrilled to see taking hold in the U.S. The preparations are light but powerful, blending the best of minimalist Japanese fundamentals with pristine American seasonal ingredients. It’s not Asian-fusion—it’s just good cooking. 

Congratulations to Bryan, Jennifer, and Douglas on a beyond superior meal. But to Douglas I have to say a special thanks. Your dishes left me feeling reinvigorated, humbled, inspired, and—as someone who gets to sample the work of Master Chefs like yourself for a living—like the luckiest girl in the world. 

Bon Appetit.