Where are you living/working now?
Chef JAG still resides in sunny Tampa, Fla., and is corporate executive chef for the DAVANTI restaurant group.
What have you been up to since FNS?
Just married my beautiful Afghan queen, now wife, Layla Ahmad Garcia! I'm still turning and burning; spotlighting my signature cooking style, "Latino Fusionè," through several "JAG'ed up" restaurant concepts on my website at www.ChefJag.com.
I'm honored to be working with my fellow Marines in a non-profit organization called Semper-fit, providing wellness education and programs to military veterans, first responders and their families. For more information, visit www.Semperfit.org.
I'm still working the mixed martial arts circuit with Master Jose Montero of ITF Taekwon-Do, Gracie Ocala and all my MMA junkies at Gracie Barra and Kwon Jae Hwa TKD.
I make the best of local television spots, national wine and food festivals, and share the culinary heart of my Latin fusion cuisine with all who embrace passion for food. I'm also a regular guest chef on the Daytime Dishes portion of Daytime TV with Dave Nemeth and Cyndi Edwards.
I continue to learn and grow as a God-fearing man and chef.
What was your most favorite thing about being on FNS? And your least favorite?
Most: Briefly living my dream ?
Least: Realizing I wasn't ready for it. Representing the culinary heart of my people is a passion that still keeps me up at night. Time will tell its story.
Do you still keep in touch with other finalists?
Pauley and the fish-man himself, Michael Salmon, are still on the JAGMan's cell-phone speed dial. Been keeping touch with most of the crew on Facebook.
What was the funniest/coolest/weirdest (or worst!) incident to happen behind the scenes?
The worst remains between the 11 of us. I will tell you that through the entire filming I never once stopped cooking, even when the rest of the crew wanted to eat out.
Great time in L.A. with Adrian. That was pretty memorable — bar-hopping the music scene round Santa Monica Pier, dreaming about the future and so on. Great times man!
I remember a group of folks in New York's Chelsea Market who approached Bobby and I asking for an autograph. "We love you!" they shouted as I timidly took a step behind Chef Flay. I realized as he turned his back and whispered, "They’re all yours," who they were talking to. I miss those times.
How did being on FNS affect your culinary career?
It gave me the much deserved opportunity to share my fusion styles and culinary passion with the world; for that I am forever truly grateful!
What advice would you offer the next round of finalists?
Just do your best, be yourself and the rest will take care of itself.
Are you recognized from your time on FNS?
Always, especially in the Latin foods section of my local grocer. Funny, huh? Still after all these years, the Lord has truly blessed me with a loyal fan base and I love every single one of you. I am forever humbled by your loyalty and continual loving support. I think it's gonna be time to "JAG it up" again real soon.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from your time on FNS?
Don't let life break you. Let it make you!
To all my fans who never got a chance to find me on MySpace after FNS 3 ended, get JAGed up all over again at www.Myspace.com/Jagbeyond.