Each finalist was given a journal to use during the run of the competition, and Eddie filled his with recipe ideas and challenge reflections. On the first page, he deemed himself "fit chef" and penned a quote that he ended up referencing on several different pages. "Don't be afraid to be great," he wrote.
"Finally had the chance to cook today! Couldn't have asked for a better scene," Eddie wrote of the premiere episode's outdoor food festival at Triunfo Vineyards. While the Committee wondered about what he called his "cheat day" point of view, there was no doubt that Eddie delivered on the "finesse" in his chipotle-laced shrimp, according to Bobby.
It was Episode 2 when Eddie first relinquished his "cheat day" perspective after heeding feedback from the mentors. Come the baking challenge that week, he prepared a chili-stuffed cornbread muffin and focused on the story of the dish, he said, and included an anecdote about college. Alex found Eddie to be "a real charmer," and Eddie was ultimately named a winner of the day.
After serving a lackluster burnt salad that wasn't sufficiently charred and offering a disappointing presentation, Eddie not only didn't place among the winners, but he also faced potential elimination for the first time in the competition. "He just kept saying 'um' a lot," Bobby said, reflecting on Eddie's performance.
It's no secret that Alex had a penchant for talking in this competition, and in Week 4, that proved to be a problem for his then-teammate Eddie. Along with Arnold, they took the stage at the July 4th cookout to share a demo, and when Alex stole most of the available time, Eddie was forced to cut Alex off mid-speech to give himself time to introduce his dish.
In Week 5, Eddie and Alex were paired up again, but this time, the situation was less stressful. The name of the game at Patina Restaurant was culinary fusion, and in keeping with Eddie's Caribbean focus and Alex's sandwich POV, they presented a jerk banh mi, which guest judge Anne Burrell deemed "a bromance banh mi" after taking in their better-together performance.
Not only did Eddie shine in his pizza presentation in Week 6, but his dessert-inspired pie with jalapeno and fruit impressed the CEO of CiCi's, who said: "The pizza was a great fit for our brand. We need that dessert pizza." Ultimately, Eddie's quality pizza and stellar performance earned him the win in that challenge.
The sixth episode continued to be a strong one for Eddie; he wowed the crowd at the comedy club with his duo of solid food and ease in presenting. Bob was pleased with Eddie's "confident, charismatic, funny" personality, while Bobby was impressed by Eddie's decision to make quail coated with potato chips, which the finalist had created with fried chicken in mind.
Eddie and Michelle worked together to execute their grilled cheese food truck, and while their idea may have been solid — focusing on the comfort-food aspect of the dish — their video to promote the truck was a miss. "What is that dance?" Eddie asked Michelle after she danced throughout the first take of their video. But even he joined in to bust a few moves. "Because of all the movement, I kind of got lost as to what they were actually making," Giada said after watching the video.
"This is by far the most nervous I have been in this competition," Eddie said going into his presentation in Week 8. Neither his gray-colored shrimp nor his presentation of his brand box excited the judges, and Eddie admitted, "I know that I'm not doing a good job." Bobby told him, "You kind of left the building in this one."
Eddie got last pick of the holidays in the seasonal special challenge that week, which meant that he was forced to celebrate Halloween in his demo. Despite delivering a well-received story and his best intentions in pairing a bone-in pork chop with a red-hued pomegranate sauce as a nod to the skeletons and blood of Halloween, Eddie flopped. Bob noted, "The dish he made had zero connection to Halloween."
In Week 9, Eddie reached a critical milestone in the competition when he became one of the final four finalists. It was also then that the momentum started to shift in his favor. In his first live demo, in which he demoed an onion ring-topped burger alongside Catherine McCord, Eddie seemed "comfortable," according to Bobby. "I'm on cloud nine right now," Eddie said after the challenge.
Like Eddie's demo with Catherine, Eddie's segment on Summer Live was a sure-fire success. The Committee was pleased that he was quick to incorporate his fellow co-hosts, and as for his pastalike noodles, which he made from zucchini, Giada said, "It kind of feels like you're eating a noodle and it gives you sort of that al dente bite."
With Dom's return after a victorious journey on Star Salvation, there were four finalists in the running for three available pilots, which meant that Eddie, Jay, Dom and Arnold had to face off with "the dish of your lives," according to Bobby. Though Susie noted that Eddie's video "wasn't a well-organized minute," his performance was strong enough to earn him the third and final spot in the finale.
True to his love of bold flavors, Eddie, who's from Texas, set off to explore the Texas-style 'cue at Mighty Quinn's Barbeque in New York City in his pilot. With the help of director Rachael Ray, he worked through some early stumbles in the taping process to ultimately create BBQ Blitz with Eddie Jackson. "Beautiful. Perfection," Rachael told him after he delivered a strong outro line.
Touchdown, Eddie. After the Selection Committee screened all three pilots, Brooke Johnson, the president of Food Network, came on stage to reveal the winner, and ultimately Eddie dropped to his knees in an emotional reaction after seeing his face on the winner's screen. "I'm beyond speechless," Eddie said. "This is a feeling that I've yet to feel."