Jeffrey Saad

Jeffrey, 42 (Los Angeles, Calif.), a California Culinary Academy graduate, has more than 25 years experience as a restaurateur, food consultant, recipe developer, and chef. He enjoys cooking without borders: combining flavorful and often unexpected ingredients to achieve simple, tasty dishes in no time. The married father of two owns a real estate brokerage firm with his wife and has a second degree black belt in martial arts.

Food specialty: Southwestern/Mexican, Italian, "Cooking Without Borders"

Favorite restaurant: Mozza in Los Angeles and Chasse et Pesche in Montreal

Three foods you can't live without (other than bread or water):
Scallops, chocolate, and chiles

Food you won't go near: Nothing!

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Grasshoppers in Mexico

Interests: Wine, martial Arts, travel

Favorite Food Network chef:
Alton Brown

Favorite shows (doesn't have to be Food Network): Good Eats and Kitchen Nightmares

Favorite food destination: Europe, for sure! If I had to pick I would say Italy. I love the clean, simple flavors of Italian food. Fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, pasta with just olive oil, garlic and parmesan, perfect thin pizza crust, rich flavorful steak Florentine, and enough tempting gelato to give me an extra 5 lbs. every trip! These dishes have more flavor than you could ever imagine.

Culinary inspirations: The ingredients themselves; I love to really pay attention to what I am eating – the taste, texture, weight and volume! When I taste a perfectly fresh in-season ingredient, flavors start racing through my mind of what combinations would be great for a delicious dish.

Three people, alive or dead, whom you'd like to invite to a dinner party: Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, and my father

Favorite books: The Art of Happiness (Dalai Lama), The Greatest Salesman in the World (Og Mandino), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey), Getting Things Done (David Allen)

Favorite movies: Nacho Libre, Wedding Crashers, Big Night, Babette's Feast, and too many others to remember!

Why do you think you should be the Season 5 Food Network Star?
I was born to cook, eat, teach and inspire. Food Network embodies all of those perfectly! I think I would have a better chance of living if you removed my heart versus my tongue!