The merge came early this season on Survivor: One World, and while some contestants saw the new tribe as saving grace, Jonas Otsuji, 37, was sent home by an almost unanimous vote, and became the first member of the jury.
Now back at home in Lehi, Utah, the sushi chef tells PEOPLE about his rocky “marriage” to Tarzan, why Leif was his only vote, and all about the delicious meals he made on the island that had even the show’s producers wanting to get a bite.
Did you know you were going home?
Yes. Basically Kim and Chelsea were trying to test Troy and Jay’s loyalty towards the women. That was the whole point of voting me out. I was a part of their original alliances. I knew that the only alternative I could propose was Mike, because he was a bigger threat physically than I was so I just threw it out. I didn’t think it was going to make me last forever in the game but I thought, “maybe one more day.”
You and Tarzan had a rocky alliance.
You know how you hear about people staying in the marriage for the kids? That’s what it is like. I only stayed in that relationship with Tarzan because of our alliance. There was really no other reason beyond that. And to be quite honest with you, there were a lot of people that felt the same way. He just rubbed people the wrong way.
Why was Leif the only vote for you to stay?
I love Leif, but strategically he was absolutely the most clueless player out there. After he leaked the information about Bill going home, we all decided Leif will not know the plan from now on. We will just let him do his own thing.
Were the elements a struggle for you?
I was actually surprised at how clear my mind was. I was so quick and clear. I was shocked I was able to operate on such little sleep. The first three days I slept maybe an hour total. I wasn’t jumping up and down with energy but I was fine.
Were you able to use your skills as a chef out there?
I was resourceful and adapted to my ingredients to mimic other dishes I make at home. There was one I called the “Samoan seafood bisque.” Normally with a bisque you use a dairy cream but I grated coconut and then I used my buff to squeeze it and extract the fatty cream. I added that to the fish stock and used saltwater mixed with coconut water to make this salty, sweet, savory dish from basically nothing. Everybody in the tribe thought it was amazing. One of the producers even said, “I’ve been doing this show for 10 seasons and that was the very first time I was actually jealous of what you guys were eating.”
You should do a Survivor cooking show?
Funny you should say that. I’m actually shooting a pilot video right now to do that very thing.