“That looks like one of Aaron Franklin’s smokers,” Isaac Toups recalls telling curator Elizabeth Pearce as she led him through the back of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans earlier this summer.
“It is!” she responded. “And I would love for you to use it.”
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Naturally, the 12-year-old museum dedicated to the sweeping history and culture that makes up Southern cuisine is the inspiration for Isaac and Amanda Toups’ restaurant. (“We’d be foolish not to do Southern food in the Southern Food & Beverage Museum,” Isaac says.”)
That translates to stacks of pork chops with espresso mayo and pickles, vegetable plates filled with okra and biscuits slathered with crab roe. (“It’s really a marvelous thing,” Amanda says.”) And on the drink front, there are Ramos Gin Fizzes cranked out of another museum storage find, the Imperial Shaker, and at the exact bar once situated inside the legendary Bruning's.
It’s a long time coming for the couple behind Toups’ Meatery, who have been biding their time for the right opportunity to open a second restaurant. Plus, with Isaac’s passion for wetlands preservation and working with local pig farmers and seafood purveyors, the museum restaurant is a natural extension of what they’re already doing.
“Southern food is something I’ve grown up with,” Isaac says. “We don’t screw around.”