There’s some solid buzz surrounding Eddie Jackson, winner of the most recent season of Food Network Star, and the star of BBQ Blitz, his own upcoming Food Network program. While Eddie has a ton of experience both in the kitchen and on the football field (more on that in just a second) he’s still an unfamiliar face to a lot of viewers. Now that it’s football season–and when is it not barbecue season?–here’s a bit of insight into Eddie Jackson and BBQ Blitz.
Who is Eddie Jackson?
Eddie Jackson is a 34-year-old former professional football player and current personal trainer and food truck entrepreneur. Originally from the greater Dallas area, Eddie has called Houston home for years. He had a standout athletic career at the University of Arkansas: in addition to starting at safety and cornerback for the Razorbacks, he was an All-American on the track and field team. Eddie played in the NFL for four-and-a-half seasons, but his career was cut short by a torn ACL and a string of other, equally unfortunate injuries.
What are his food credentials?
It’s a long list: in the run up to BBQ Blitz, Eddie has managed his own food truck, Caribbean Grill, for a number of years. (He’s branded himself as “FitChef” in Texas, and the label would appear to have served him well). In addition, Eddie placed eighth out of nineteen during the 2013 season of MasterChef, before winning it all on this summer’s edition of Food Network Star. BBQ Blitz was Eddie’s pliot for the finale of FNS; he triumphed over an Italian show and a Cajun-styled program in getting the nod.
Devotées will recall that Eddie’s early angle on Food Network Star was a far cry from what BBQ Blitz promises to be: the idea behind “Cheat Day” was eating healthily, despite the fact that a cheat day on a diet plan means eating whatever you want.
What’s the premise of BBQ Blitz?
The BBQ Blitz pilot that Eddie filmed for Food Network Star–which you can view below–makes the show look like a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives-type of deal, which would be entertaining enough. It turns out, though, that that format was a strictly FNS-styled affair, and that the actual show will be part local flavor and part cooking competition. According to the newest breakdown,
Eddie hits a new city in each episode and welcomes three of the best local grillers, smokers[,] and fire-roasters to an outdoor cook-off for a grand prize of $5,000 and BBQ bragging rights. The action happens in front of a crowd of cheering spectators, and kicks off with Eddie challenging each competitor to transform their signature grilled masterpiece into a completely different dish for two hungry judges. After an elimination, he chooses one special ingredient that the remaining two must turn into the BBQ dish of their lives. The judges then determine who cooked the best bite, and the $5,000 grand-prize winner is named in front of fans with stadium-style hoopla.
It looks like the earliest episodes of BBQ Blitz will feature quite a bit of southern flair: so far, Eddie’s filmed in Miami; Charlotte; Dallas; Little Rock; and Montgomery AL, in addition to perhaps the Mecca of barbecue holy sites: Kansas City.
Wait a minute–Eddie was all about Caribbean food on Food Network Star. Why is his Food Network show based around barbecue?
You are correct: barbecue wasn’t exactly Eddie’s thing during Food Network Star, and the introduction of the BBQ Blitz pilot threw some viewers for a loop. As Eddie shared during a Food Network Q&A shortly after his victory, the three finalists’ pilots were arranged by Food Network itself; the implication was that the finalists had little influence over what sort of show they would be hosting. (Though, again, it’s maybe worth pointing out that Dom and Jay both got pilots based on their preferred styles.)
Eddie seemed completely unfazed by the transition, though. Here’s what he told Zap2It shortly after winning:
When I came into the season I always talked about how I loved BBQ. The first thing I learned to cook was BBQ with my dad. I think it is something that would highlight my personality and something I’m familiar with. I live in Texas, so BBQ is Texas.
When will BBQ Blitz air?
BBQ Blitz debuts on Friday, October 9th, at 10:30 EST / 9:30 CST.
What did we miss? What else would you like to know about BBQ Blitz–or about Eddie Jackson himself? Let us know by leaving a question in the comments!
(Photo credits: Eddie Jackson / BBQ Blitz via Instagram)