Eddie Jackson: 34, former professional defensive back in the NFL, and, now, the newest winner of Food Network Star. After his football days were cut short by an ACL tear–the cruelest of injuries, no doubt–Jackson turned to food and fitness for professions. The Houston food truck bigwig and professional trainer extraordinaire impressed the judges on the regular for the duration of this season’s eleven-episode run, and, thanks to the power of his BBQ Blitz pilot in the finale, will be a part of the Food Network rotation starting this fall.
Of course, Eddie was no stranger to the competitive cooking format: he placed a strong eighth (out of nineteen contestants, recall) in the fourth season of Master Chef, all the way back in 2013. Doubtless that training helped him nail the Food Network Star gig, though one persistent question fans had in the wake of his victory was why Eddie’s will be a barbecue-themed program, given that he cooked with a Caribbean flair all season long.
Nonetheless, Eddie recently took the time to answer some of his fans’ most pressing questions via a Q&A through the Food Network’s Facebook page. Below is a slightly condensed version of the exchange, which you can check out in full over on Facebook. He didn’t address the Caribbean / barbecue controversy, but did touch on a wide range of related topics:
Who inspired you to start cooking?
My grandmother at first. It started with a biscuit (watching her make them). Later on, my dad influenced me in my teen years.
What is your favorite meal to prepare?
My favorite dish to prepare is Escabeche Fish!
What’s your favorite barbecue dish to make? Any must-have side dishes?
Oh, that’s easy. If I was on my deathbed, I would ask for a whole rack of ribs. My favorite side would have to be my grandmother’s potato salad.
What is your favorite childhood dish that you would share with your audience?
That’s tough. I have so many! My dad makes really good meatballs and it took him years to give me his recipe. I just recently got it.
You never appeared nervous during the competition but do you have any fears about your new show?
I never was nervous until the finale and then everything caught up with me and I was so nervous! I’m more excited for the opportunity for my show.
Who was your stiffest competitor?
By far, I thought it was Jay.
My question is which is harder? Cooking in a timed completion or Pro Football and Why! Can’t wait for your show to come out!
Timed competition because I got to playing professional football, I had been doing it my whole life and it came naturally to me. It’s not everyday that you have to prepare the most amazing dish of your life in 30 minutes!
Football season is just around the corner! What’s your favorite way to tailgate? Any special dishes?
I have a rum-glaze chicken wing recipe that I do for my tailgate parties. If you grab the October issue of Food Network Magazine, you’ll find it in there!
Who is harder to impress, Coach Belichick or Bobby Flay?
Belichick. I’ve at least seen Bobby Flay smile!
What was the first thing you did after you won? What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on having a food court at [NFL] Stadiums?
I gave my dad a huge hug and a kiss. Nothing is impossible regarding the food court!
Do you think you will have an episode with Dom and Jay at some point?
I’d love to have Dom and Jay on. Nothing is impossible!
Eddie has indeed been making the media rounds since his victory–in other, somewhat more extensive interviews, he’s stated his intention to open a restaurant in his beloved Houston, shared one of the things about him that most surprised his fellow cast members, and the thing he realized about Food Network Star that most surprised him
What was the surprise for the other competitors? According to Eddie, it was his determination:
I’m a huge competitor. I hate to lose. I think that experience, that background I have…I’ve been doing sports my whole life. It gave me a little bit of a competitive edge over everyone else. I remember Rosa, she said, “Is everything a competition with you, Eddie? Actually, it is. I want to win.
The thing that surprised Eddie, by contrast, was the truth of an old cliché:
The biggest thing in a competition like this–it’s so cliche—but just be yourself. That is the truth. Eventually, the real person is going to come out and that’s what people want to see—what you’re really like and who you really are. That’s what’s going to make them watch you. I think that’s what I tried to do throughout the whole season every time I stepped in front of the camera. I tried to be my upbeat self. It showed through towards the end.
That’s why I think the three people who were left, from day one, were consistent on the show with themselves in front of the camera.
Here’s how to follow Eddie Jackson on social media:
You can catch Eddie’s new show, BBQ Blitz, starting Friday, October 9th, at 10:30 PM EST.
(Photo credits: Eddie Jackson via Facebook)