Bravotv.com: How are you feeling going into the finale?
Douglas Keane: I am extremely exhausted both physically and mentally. It was a lot tougher than I thought. This whole process that is Top Chef Masters forced me to do some soul searching that I definitely didn't expect. Couple that with a pretty brutal schedule of taping, I am about wiped out.
Now, with that being said, being this close to $100,000 for Green Dog definitely is a little reinvigorating. I was planning on lasting only a couple shows at best as this was so far out of my comfort zone that being in the finale definitely amped up my energy.
Bravotv.com: You find out that you won't have Paul's help prepping. What's your reaction to that?
DK: My first reaction is basically nothing. Its just matter of fact. Its how I deal with things in general. I try not to let anything faze me, no matter how severe -- from brain tumor to business issues. That way, I can buy time to figure out how to deal with what comes up without wasting time and energy with panic. Projecting a sense of calm enables me to get my thoughts together and usually pays off with a good concise plan.
But it definitely hit me smack in the face while I was shopping. I started to realize that I needed to be back in the kitchen ASAP. And a good amount of adrenaline started to take over, which I've realized isn't necessarily a good thing for me. I used to feed off the adrenaline, but now I know I deliver much better product when I'm calm and can keep a sense of humor.
Bravotv.com: Can you elaborate on your menu planning? How do you decide which dish will go for which course?
DK: The first and last course were easiest.
Steamed mussels were the very first thing I learned how to make professionally. So, the Billi Bi was a natural. It's my favorite soup and is so impressive when done right. I was pretty sure I could hit it perfectly as long as I had enough mussels.
The second course was a version of one of my favorite dishes that I made towards the end of Cyrus. It basically symbolized where my food style currently lives. It had slipped my mind, so I was thankful that Paul reminded me of it. So "something new" was the epitome of this dish. It was a thesis basically on all of my travels to Japan.
The third course was tougher. Something borrowed. I've worked for so many amazing chefs that it was tough to pick. I could have picked a bunch of dishes from Traci Des Jardins as she is definitely a mentor and friend who greatly affected my career in many ways. But when I thought about the chef who influenced my cooking the most, it was easy to reflect on my time with Chef Kunz, and see how much his ability to draw out flavors and balance tastes seeps into my food everyday. His tamarind glaze is something I've stolen for many years and is so versatile-- I'm even using it at my new restaurant, DK Wings, that opens in November, as a glaze for one of my chicken wings.
The fourth course was a panna cotta, which is great because it gave me a blank canvas to work with.