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Chefs love to travel — for inspiration, to experience the cuisines of other cultures or just to get away from the heat of their own kitchens. When they return, we hit them with some questions — where'd they stay, what'd they do and WHAT DID THEY EAT? Spike Mendelsohn just returned from a Top Chef cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico and caught up with us to share.

Spike Mendelsohn is planning to open a Good Stuff Eatery location in Philadelphia this year.

Chefs love to travel — for inspiration, to experience the cuisines of other cultures or just to get away from the heat of their own kitchens. When they return, we hit them with some questions — where’d they stay, what’d they do and WHAT DID THEY EAT?

Ever wonder where President Obama enjoys his birthday lunch? Look no further than Good Stuff Eatery, Spike Mendelsohn’s burger joint in the nation’s capital. In addition to working on opening a branch of his popular restaurant in Philadelphia, Mendelsohn — who has previously worked at Le Cirque in New York and alongside Thomas Keller at Napa Valley’s Bouchon — also runs D.C.’s We, The Pizza, which dishes out New York-style pies and counts the entire first family among its regulars. Yes, the Top Chef Season 4 and Top Chef: All-Stars alum has quite the fan club. We caught up with the fashionable chef (those fedoras!) to hear about his recent experience on the four-night Top Chef cruise.

Where are you just back from?
I just arrived back from the Top Chef cruise, which went to Key West, FL and Cozumel, Mexico. At first, I thought it was a hoax — that we were all invited back for another round of Top Chef competitions and that each chef that lost would be kicked off and left at the port with their knives. Alas, it actually turned out to be a real cruise. 

Business or pleasure?
A little bit of both, but mostly pleasure. 

What was the highlight?
The highlight had to have been beating a pregnant lady in the finals of my ping pong tournament. The deal was that if I won, she had to name her baby after me!

What was the lowlight?
Honestly, there really wasn’t any lowlight. It was great to be with all my Top Chef buddies and be surrounded by the amazing fans. 

Can you give us a mini review of the trip’s accommodations?
It was a Top Chef cruise, so they had an unlimited amount of food and drinks. There was a beautiful spa, pool, game room, movie theatre, parties with great music, more food and of course, a 24 hour casino. 

What was the best meal you ate on the trip?
I’m going to have to go with my own cauliflower purée, kimchi slaw and BBQ sweetbreads with kimchi vinaigrette. I can’t get enough of that dish.

Did you bring anything back from your trip, and if so, what?
I brought a pirate outfit back and a Lucha Libre mask…don’t ask. 

Do you have any other trips planned in the near future?
I’m trying to make it back to Maui to visit my friends, go whale watching and catch some waves.

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