Izahya Thomas reveals the hardest part of being on Next Level Chef, interview

Izahya Thomas on Next Level Chef Season 3
Izahya Thomas on Next Level Chef Season 3 / FOX

While his social media presence engages his many fans, Izahya Thomas had to impress three impeccable palates on Next Level Chef Season 3. Although he made it far into the FOX culinary competition, a few mis-steps left him just short of the title. During a recent conversation, Izahya shared his highs, lows, and what the future holds for him.

As a member of Team Ramsay, Izahya appreciates that there were expectations with earning that particular apron. The social media chef might not have had the culinary training of his professional counterparts, but he was always willing to explore flavors and techniques in his dishes. Some challenges had him riding high and others sent him to the brink of elimination.

Although there can be a second or more takes when filming those social media videos, the platform and the clock never stops on Next Level Chef. Still, Izahya knew that he had to be ready for whatever challenge was thrown his way.

When asked how he prepared for the show, Izahya said, “the way I prepared for the show, I literally binged watched season 1 and 2, Then started doing my own next level challenge at home with my own platform that me and my wife created.”

That idea might sound like a page from another reality television handbook, but it seemed to have worked. Given that the platform made or broke the chefs’ success, it was vital to have some type of approach going into Next Level Chef. Even if no one suspected that random proteins would dominate this season, the reality is that feeling comfortable in that scenario was beneficial.

Looking back at the season, Izahya believes that the platform was key to his successes and failures. Specifically, he said, “My less successful dishes were mainly because of my grabs at the platform. The way I had to adapt was to grab ingredients that I knew how to work with and play to my strengths.”

Although home cooks might understand how they are at the mercy of fresh produce from the market, the Next Level Chef platform is less forgiving than having to swap green beans for asparagus. Everything starts and ends with the platform grab.

As Izahya explained, “the hardest aspect of dealing with the platform is it’s hard to game plan. You never know what ingredients you’re going to be left with. If you already have a plan in your head and the ingredients you need to execute that plan are gone, then you’re screwed.”

Even though there might have been moments where Izahya was less successful than others, he appreciated that it was a journey. Reflecting on some of the challenges, he said, “My favorite dish from the season is by far my green squid curry! The dish I wished received more praise was my shrimp ramen in the basement, and the dish I wish I could get a second shot on is my chicken mole.”

The title might have alluded Izahya, but he did receive a great opportunity from Gordon Ramsay on his final episode. That chance to visit and cook in one of Ramsay’s Miami restaurants is a big deal.

Izahya shared, “when Chef Ramsay offered me the chance to spend time with him in Miami it literally meant the world to me. As someone that’s only been cooking for two years and to see that Gordon Ramsay sees something in me just validated that I’m going down the right path.”

As many chefs have come to appreciate, the culinary adventure is non-stop. Every opportunity builds on itself.

Looking back, Izahya said, “The biggest thing I learned from the other chefs at least on team Ramsay is that we worked better as a team than as individuals. When we rooted each other on all of our dishes would be amazing.”

What is next for the social media chef. As seen on his channels, the content is coming in fast and fierce.

Izahya shared, “Now that Next Level Chef is over it’s hard to say what will be next because I never imagined being on the show, but I’m working on getting my curry sauce Jared up and sold, I have a recipe book coming out in the next couple of weeks, and I’m looking to take Miami by storm with a couple of pop ups soon so everyone can try my food.”

From special events to fun content, the future is bright for Izahya Thomas and it is all thanks to the Next Level Chef opportunity.

Be sure to watch new episodes of Next Level Chef Season 3 on FOX every Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. And, catch up on all the episodes via Hulu before the season finale.