Chef Isaac Toups is known for his big personality and bold, in-your-face flavors. So it's surprising that when the Isaac Takes On star was asked to name his favorite challenge from the show, he didn't choose anything involving fire, bartending flair, or Caribbean spice.
"My favorite challenge was the sushi challenge with Chef Yoshi [Okada]. Super chill and relaxed guy," Isaac told The Feast. "He busted out sushi three ways that looked like a propellor on a ship, and I just busted out a regular good sushi roll, which I was proud of…he was coming there to win."
The two chefs had to each create an original sushi roll, which was then presented to the ship's captain and cruise director for a blind tasting. Before the challenge began, Isaac — a complete sushi-making novice — got a quick lesson from Chef Yoshi himself. "He taught me so many things about making sushi and about how to roll a sushi roll, which I had only done once in my life out of a book, so to be taught hands-on by a sushi master was easily my favorite thing to do," Isaac revealed.
And though the dessert challenge involved lots of flames, it wasn't a high point for him. "[I'm] so not used to making desserts and so not used to tableside. And so what've you got me doing? You've got me doing tableside desserts," he said.
In the challenge, Isaac had to face off against the ship's Executive Pastry Chef, Rodolphe Sicard, to make an elegant dessert in front of a table of diners. "So it's awkward, and I'm just going off things I remember, with trying to make something new, in front of people," he explained. "So it was my most uncomfortable, but at the same time, I wouldn't say it was a bad challenge."
Facing off against his Top Chef Season 13 nemesis Jeremy Ford in the Isaac Takes On finale was another highlight. "I love Jeremy. He's a cool guy to hang out with," Isaac declared. "He's a bro, but that's OK, I grew up with bros and whatnot, so we didn't really click on that level. At the same time, I can sit in a bar with him or have a dinner with him and get along with him all day. [He's] super easygoing, doesn't take himself too seriously, which is great."
The two had to serve a three-course meal — appetizer, entree, and dessert — head-to-head to a table of judges. "It was some Top Chef redemption," Isaac claimed. He tied for third on his season, while Jeremy went on to become the Season 13 winner. "Then to come back and lay a whooping on [Jeremy], it felt great!" he said. "It really did. Let's not lie to each other."
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