Isaac Toups is no stranger to adventure. The Top Chef Season 13 Fan Favorite had to cook in the desert using just solar power, serve food on a golf course with no kitchen access, and perform magic tricks with food in Las Vegas in front of David Copperfield. So spending a few days sailing around the Caribbean on a cruise ship as the star of Isaac Takes On... must have been a cinch—literally, a vacation. Well, almost.
"It was a literal cruise. I was right there with everyday people who were paying to go on a cruise," the New Orleans-based chef explained to The Feast. The only difference was that Isaac had to face master chefs along the way, both on the ship and on land, going head-to-head in challenges involving breadfruit, bartending flair, and exquisite sushi.
The ship stopped at several Caribbean islands, but for Isaac, one stood out above the rest. "St. Kitts was definitely my favorite stop," he declared. "St. Kitts is one of those places that looks fake, it looks so good. It looks like it was almost animated, it looks so cool with the forested hills and the clear ocean and white beaches. I caught myself several times going, 'Jesus f—ing Christ, this looks amazing, do we have to leave?'"
Though St, Kitts was his all-time fave, Isaac also threw down with chefs in Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, as well as with chefs on board the cruise ship. In fact, Isaac's favorite challenge was against the ship's own esteemed sushi master, Chef Yoshi. The two had to create their own sushi dishes for a blind judging competition. (We won't tell you who won—no spoilers!) And though Isaac got to experience plenty of local cuisine during the cruise, his favorite culinary moment was on the boat itself.
"I had Chef Yoshi prepare a bluefin tuna meal for us. It was like the only sustainable bluefin tuna in the world, which of course he had access to because he's, like, freaking sushi master supreme," Isaac explained. "We had it four different ways. We had a tartare, we had a sashimi, we had it just blazoned with a torch. And it was some of the fattiest, most delicious fish I've ever put in my mouth."
That's high praise coming from Isaac, who has two restaurants in New Orleans—Toups' Meatery and Toups South. Could Isaac possibly beat the master at his own sushi game? You'll just have to watch and find out yourself.
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