Chef Isaac Toups was born and raised in the ‘Frog Capital of the World‘: Rayne, Louisiana. The city is located in the heart of Cajun country in the southern part of the state; in a spot where Toups can trace his family roots back over 300 years. He grew up in a food-loving family that embraced a communal dining experience and at an early age, found a deep appreciation for the Cajun-style cuisine and cooking techniques of the region.
Toups decided to travel east to New Orleans and eventually found a job at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico restaurant. He started out as the fry cook and worked his way up to become the Executive Sous Chef. During his ten years working there, he honed in on his culinary skills – which were heavily influenced by his two grandmothers – and learned what it took to operate a fine dining restaurant.
In 2012, with his wife Amanda, Toups opened Toups’ Meatery. His goal was to serve an updated and sophisticated Cajun cuisine that honors the cooking style he grew up being around. The restaurant has been receiving rave reviews since it opened and is one of the most popular spots to eat in the city. Southern Living magazine has named it one of the ‘Best Restaurants in New Orleans‘. Toups has received plenty of accolades himself; he has been nominated as a James Beard ‘Best Chef of the South‘ semi-finalist in 2014 and 2015, and Eater.com named him 2014 Chef of the Year.
He’s also no stranger to television. In 2015, Toups was a contestant on season 13 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef. He didn’t win the cooking competition, but he won the hearts of the fans and was voted as the fan-favorite giving him a nice cash bonus. He has also made numerous guest appearances on different television shows, including The Today Show and CBS This Morning.
In 2018, Toups released his first cookbook, Chasing the Gator. The book, which features more than 100 recipes, is full of “salty stories, a few tall tales.” Chasing the Gator promises to show you how–and what it means–to cook Cajun food today.
Who makes the best red beans and rice?
Nobody makes better red beans and rice than my wife Amanda. She puts smoked sausage and chicken gizzard in the pot.
When did you learn to make red beans and rice?
Red beans, or any beans for that matter, have always been cooking in my house and restaurants; can’t remember exactly when I learned to make them.
What does red beans and rice mean to you?
Red beans and rice is a super traditional southern dish that really brings me back home.
Do you only eat red beans and rice on a Monday?
Traditionally cooked on Monday but any time is red bean time.
What’s your process for cooking a pot of red beans?
I never soak my beans, but I do put them in the slow cooker overnight and “slow and low them”. I used dry beans almost always but I keep a can of Blue Runner in the pantry for emergencies.
What do you serve with your red beans and rice?
I normally have some of my sweet cornbread with my beans and always some of my personal hot sauces from my new product line. I make the sauces myself: The Smokey Green adds a mild smoke flavor from the Cajun gods. Louisiana Liquid Snake is a bright hot sauce made with Louisiana red cayenne peppers.
To stay up-to-date on Chef Isaac Toups and Toups Meatery, make sure that you follow him on Facebook and Instagram. You can find Toups Meatery at 845 North Carrollton Avenue, in NOLA; and Toups South, which is located inside of The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans.
For more information of Chef Isaac Toups’ line of hot sauces and to order his cookbook, be sure to visit his online stop at https://toupsmeatery.bigcartel.com/products.
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Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.