Season 5: Jeffrey Saad

Alert: Catch Jeffrey on Cooking Channel's United Tastes of America.

Where are you living and working now? 

Still in Los Angeles, Calif. I'm moving to San Francisco in July, with plans to open a restaurant there.

What have you been up to since FNS?

I'm national spokesperson for the Incredible Edible Egg, and I have a successful food blog: http://jeffreysaad.com.

The first draft for my cookbook is back with my literary agent, and a line of spices will be available on my website soon. I've had some incredible restaurant consulting jobs, and I hired a great management team and agent, who are putting together multiple show ideas and pitches. I'm appearing for three days at Disneyland in April, and I'll host the Charleston Food and Wine Festival.

Finally, I opened for Guy Fieri's road show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. Amazing!

What was your favorite thing about being on FNS? And your least favorite:

Favorite: being pushed to my limits. I have always believed nothing incredible happens until you are really uncomfortable. I was discovering that all the Food Network talent are as amazing as you expect them to be — relationships that will last forever.

Least favorite: missing my family!

Do you keep in touch with other finalists?

Yes. Any one of them could knock on my door tomorrow and they would be welcome.

What was the funniest/coolest/weirdest (or worst!) incident to happen behind the scenes?

Getting to meet and stay in touch with Guy Fieri. He is the real deal.

How did being on FNS affect your culinary career?

It took me to a completely new level. I am three times the cook I was when I started. It launched me back into the food world and has expanded my depth and range of cuisines.

What advice would you offer the next round of finalists?

BE YOURSELF. It's not about what you think they want to hear or see; it's about who you are. Listen to the judges’ input and learn, but stay true to yourself. Don't let your head fill up with too much stuff to try to figure out. Roll with it and be happy.

When you look back, what would you have done differently?

Focused more on the personal stories. Nobody loves their family more than I do, but I was always about keeping work and family separate. That does not fly on FN. They, thus the viewers, want to know who you are.

Do people recognize you from being on the show?

Almost daily — truly a humbling experience.

What was the greatest lesson you learned from your time on FNS?

Just when I thought it was impossible to love my family more, I realized I did. We became closer and stronger through the incredible change that it brought to our lives.

When you are truly doing what you LOVE to do, it's so easy and you don't even think about the money or the "big picture." You just wake up and say YES, time to make it happen again!

Bring ALL of yourself to the camera. DON"T hold back anything.

What's your current favorite recipe or signature dish?

Five Spice Shrimp Sliders

Anything else?

Thank you, FN, for changing my life and getting me back to what I love to do.