Anton Ego is the secondary antagonist of Ratatouille. He was voiced by the late Peter O'Toole.
Ego is an imperious, negative, acerbic and uppity food critic, whose reviews can make or break a restaurant. He has been nicknamed "The Grim Eater" in reference to the influence his reviews have.
In reviewing Gusteau's, a restaurant founded by Chef Auguste Gusteau, he adamantly rejected the Chef's belief that "anyone can cook" as stated in Gusteau's book. His review compared Gusteau to Monsieur Boyardee, whom Ego also held in distain. The review resulted in Gusteau's restaurant dropping from a five-star rating to four, and heartbroken, Gusteau died shortly thereafter. As tradition dictates, the restaurant's rating was lowered by another star with the Chef's death.
Years later upon learning that Gusteau's was rising in popularity again, Ego retrieved his review from a filing cabinet and stated it was to be "the last word" that sealed the restaurant's fate as being "condemned to the tourist trade". He also held the recent expansion into meals being sold in grocery stores under the "Chef Gusteau's" brand in contempt.
Ego then visited the restaurant during a press conference that introduced the new Chef, Alfredo Linguini, who had recently been confirmed as Gusteau's son and rightful heir. At that interview, he issued a challenge, stating that Linguini had been "playing without an opponent", meaning Linguini's sudden rise to fame was unwarranted since he had not faced any competition. After a nervous attempt at a comeback to Ego's statement that Linguini was "slow for someone in the fast lane" (of the restaurant business) by Lingini of Ego being "thin, for someone who likes food", Ego makes his position very clear: "I don't like food; I LOVE it. If I don't love it, I don't swallow." Ego departs with a promise to return the following day to review the new Chef's abilities.
Unnerved, Linguini later had a dream where he was taking Ego's order. In response to the inquiry if he knew what Ego would like, this version of Ego stated that he'd "like [Linguini's] heart roasted on a spit" and began laughing evilly.
The following evening, Ego returns to the restaurant to begin his review. After a disappointing conversation with the waiter, Ego proclaims that he will take whatever Chef Linguini dares to serve him and that Linguini should take his best shot.
As the evening progresses, Ego makes a note about the slow service, unaware that Linguini has lost his entire cooking staff after revealing the true source for his abilities to them. When the meal finally does arrive, served by Linguini himself, Ego takes a bite and is immediately transported back to his childhood where his mother served him ratatouille as a comfort food after breaking his bicycle. As the memory fades, Ego begins eating the same meal with much more enthusiasm and enjoyment.
Afterwards, Ego speaks with Linguini, pleased with the meal and complimenting Linguini on serving it himself. He is surprised when Linguini admits to only being the waiter, and requests to speak with the real Chef. Upon being told that he will only be able to meet the Chef after all of the other customers have left, he agrees.
He at first believes that the rat Linguini and Colette say is the Chef is a joke on their part, but as they explain and Remy demonstrates how he was able to control Linguini, he realizes they are telling the truth. He departs without comment and returns home to write his review.
The review is published in the newspaper and it relates how Ego has had to reevaluate his perceptions, closing with a very glowing appraisal of the (unnamed) Chef, the meal and the restaurant. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the closure of the restaurant by the Health Department due to a rodent infestation, and Ego loses his job and credibility.
Months later, Anton Ego becomes an investor in the new bistro opened by Linguini, Remy and Colette. La Ratatouille is very popular, with long lines of customers waiting to be let in, and Ego is a frequent patron. When Linguini inquires as to what kind of dessert he might like, Ego makes eye contact with Remy, who is looking out through a miniature window in the kitchen. Ego then happily proclaims, "Surprise me!"
The name Ego means "self-esteem", from the Roman meaning "I". This would allude to a certain level of vanity and arrogance on the part of Anton. He has nothing but contempt for the people around him combined with something of a sadistic streak, unlike Chef Skinner, who is not presented as a man of pure evil and just wants to keep his restaurant running. He shows a great amount of humility and indeed sentiment after eating Remy's dish of ratatouille and learning the secret of Gusteau's restaurant.
He is extremely passionate about food, claiming "I don't like food, I love it." He is also a man of great taste and distinction, showing a knowledge of fine wines as well as food.
Ego is intelligent and sophisticated and in terms of dress sense, he appears to be something of a dandy, completing his dark, dapper suit with a chic scarf.