The Winner of Food Network Star Dishes on His New Series: "BBQ Blitz Is Something That Best Represents Eddie"
"This show is basically me in a nutshell," Food Network Star winner Eddie Jackson told us recently of his upcoming series, BBQ Blitz, kicking off Friday, Oct. 9 at 10:30|9:30c. The show takes him across the country to six different cities — each with special meaning to him — where he'll oversee meaty face-offs among local pitmasters to create what he believes is a brand-new kind of contest on TV. "I am excited for fans to see something totally different from a barbecue competition show on Food Network," Eddie said. He's no stranger to culinary showdowns, of course, as it was just a few weeks ago that he vied for the title of Food Network Star — and won. It turns out that all of the challenges he endured on Star weren't for naught, as he explained that he took some of the lessons he learned from that show, including one crucial piece of industry know-how from mentor Bobby Flay, into the filming of BBQ Blitz.
Read on below to hear from Eddie in an exclusive interview as he dishes on his lessons learned from Food Network Star, and find out why he thinks "BBQ Blitz is something that best represents Eddie."
How is the process of filming your own television show different (better?) than filming and competing on Food Network Star?
Eddie Jackson: It was a lot different, but I think that some of the things that we went through on Food Network Star definitely kind of helped me out with filming BBQ Blitz. 'Cause there's a little bit of everything: how to go through the process of interacting with people, the whole looking into the camera, understanding the camera, being friends with the camera. Things that they talked about a lot on Food Network Star, you really had to do while I was filming BBQ Blitz.
What's your greatest lesson learned from Food Network Star that you've carried with you into filming BBQ Blitz?
EJ: The No. 1 thing is be yourself and it'll come through on the camera. That was one of the things that Bobby Flay told me early on in the competition. He was just like, "Be yourself on camera." And I did that 100 percent while I was filming BBQ Blitz. And I'm hoping that everyone can see that.
Is filming BBQ Blitz at all what you expected this process to be like? How so?
EJ: It was more than I expected because it was hectic. It was early mornings and we would get done late in the afternoon, and I didn't expect it to be that way. And another thing is I literally was living out of a suitcase, going from city to city. And that was something that I really didn't expect. But it was fun. It was always an adventure, and it was always something fun and exciting … and just the different people inside of the city. Meeting people that are representing their city to the fullest, it's something that I felt was exciting every week.
What are you most looking forward to fans seeing in BBQ Blitz?
EJ: I am excited for fans to see something totally different from a barbecue competition show on Food Network. It's so packed with excitement. At some point when I was there filming, it felt like I was at a game. You know what it mean? It really felt like I was at a game and these chefs were, like, really competing. And the energy was so high with the people that were cheering them on. At one point we had a band, so it really felt like a game, and I think it's something that's going to be exciting and fans are really going to love it.
What's been the biggest learning curve in taping BBQ Blitz?
EJ: I think the biggest thing that I learned is each city is different, so you have to quickly understand the city, understand the people in the city. Some cities are a little bit more exciting than others. Some cities you have to really work harder to get the crowd involved, to get the chefs get their energy levels up. And I think that's one of the biggest things: understanding how to adapt to your surroundings and really use your personality to bring out the best in others. And I think that's an attribute that I have — is to bring out the best in others. And I think I definitely did that with this show.
What's one thing you didn't realize about what it takes to star in your own show?
EJ: I definitely think the things that I realized really, really quickly is that this is, like, my show. And on Food Network Star, it wasn't my show. So all eyes are on me, so I have to make sure that everything that I'm doing is for the better of the show. That means getting everyone involved, always keeping a smile on your face because the camera is on you at all times. It's not a 10 to 11 other people that maybe that the camera is on. It's always on you, so you have to make sure that everything that you're doing is for the better of the show. Getting that crowd involved. Getting those chefs involved. Upbeat personality at all times, because that camera is always in your face.
We're excited to meet your family and friends on the show. Why was it important to share this experience with them?
EJ: Well, I really and truly feel like this is a blessing that I have and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — to be able to film six episodes on Food Network. And if this opportunity never comes again, I wanted to make sure that I shared it at least with my close friends and family, so I made it a point to get my family on the show, get my friends on the show, because this is something that's so special to me. And I wanted to share it with them.
Tell us a bit about how you came to love barbecue and some of your earliest experiences in cooking it.
EJ: Basically the first thing that I learned how to cook was barbecue, barbecuing with my dad a lot. When I was 10 years old, growing up, we stayed in a little apartment, and we used to barbecue every weekend on the little grill on the patio. And that's the first real cooking experience that I had. And then over the years, I've evolved my cooking and obviously I cook so many different things, but it all comes back to barbecue — something that I truly love to do. My food truck has two barbecue grills on it. So it's something that I'm passionate about, something that I love. I think it's a beautiful form of cooking because you can do so many different things with it. And I think that it's a healthy form of cooking; you're not adding any fats or anything like that. So that's another reason why I love it so much, because it's a healthy form of cooking and I always fall back onto my fitness background.
What do you want to say to your fans who watched you on Food Network Star and have followed you to BBQ Blitz?
EJ: I want to say, first of all, thank you. But also I want them to really understand that this show is basically me in a nutshell. It's going to be full of excitement, competition — which is something that I love. And you're definitely going to see my friends and family on there, because ... that's very, very, important to me ... always showing appreciation to your friends and family. Because that's my support system, and I wouldn't have achieved anything that I've achieved in life without my friends and family. But for the most part, I want my fans and the people that have watched me to understand that what they're going to see with this show BBQ Blitz is something that best represents Eddie — not just from a barbecue standpoint, but from the standpoint of excitement, putting smiles on people's faces, having fun and living life. And that's what you're going to see in this show.