Grilling Tips and More from Eddie Jackson, Co-Host of Kids BBQ Championship

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The Food Network Star Season 11 winner, Eddie Jackson, co-hosts the new series Kids BBQ Championship, Mondays at 8|7c, with lifestyle expert Camila Alves. On the show, eight talented young grill masters compete for the chance to win $20,000. Eddie and Camila not only lead the kids through the various grilling and barbecuing challenges, but also judge their dishes with the help of a third grilling-expert guest judge.

When it comes to barbecue, Eddie has a wealth of knowledge. We recently caught up with the star to chat about the show and his background in barbecue. Eddie also recalls some of the fun experiences he and Camila had in coaching the young competitors, and he offers a few tips for grilling season.

How did you first get into barbecuing and grilling? What age were you, and do you have a great memory you could share?

One of the first things my dad taught me was how to barbecue, at the age of 12. The first time I barbecued by myself was Sunday dinner during a football game, and I made hamburgers and hot dogs for the entire family.

What or who inspires your cooking, grilling and barbecuing?

Bobby Flay is my food mentor, and I have learned from him, his techniques and the flavors he uses.

Working with these kids on Kids BBQ Championship, what impressed you most about them? Were you surprised by some of the things you saw them do?

The knowledge the kids have about food at such a young age was very impressive. The very first day we were there, I saw Josie break down a whole chicken in about two minutes.

How did you enjoy hosting the show? What were some of your favorite moments?

I absolutely loved hosting the show. I am a kid fanatic, so putting food and kids together is a win-win for me. The creative things that the kids came up with were favorite moments. At that age, kids are already very imaginative, so to be able to see them coming up with crazy things and execute them was pretty phenomenal.

How was co-hosting with Camila Alves?

Camilla and I immediately had a great vibe together. She is a great mom, and I have that coach mentality, so I think it was a perfect combo for us to host this competition together.

How often do you grill or barbecue at home?

Considering my food truck is based around grilling and barbecuing — every day!!

What are some of your go-to recipes on the grill or barbecue?

Ginger Rum Ribs and Jerk Chicken.

Is there a dish you can’t live without?

Ribs. I couldn’t live without ribs.

What would a menu be like at your house if you were hosting a backyard bash?

Jerk Chicken Wings, Pulled Ginger Rum Ribs, Caribbean-style coleslaw and my dad’s famous baked beans.

What’s your favorite style of barbecue? Do you have a favorite meat to use for it?

I don’t have a favorite style. I just like to blend everything together, a little bit of each one. I love pork.

What type of grill do you use at home?

Charcoal and wood, because it gives a better flavor.

Could you give fans a few of your most-important grilling tips, whether it’s about setting up a charcoal barbecue, controlling the heat, getting the best sear on a steak, etc.?

1: To get the best sear on a steak regardless of the grill, make sure that grill is extremely hot before you put the steak on, and the steak needs to be room-temperature.

2: Make sure that the coals are spread evenly.

3: Always grease your grates before putting food on them.

4: When grilling, as opposed to smoking, you need to keep a close eye on the fire, because the meat is closer to the flame and flare-ups are inevitable.