Eddie Jackson, who previously had a career playing defensive back in the NFL, has won the 11th season of Food Network Star.

Eddie Jackson Wins ‘Food Network Star’

Jackson, who previously played football for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, was crowned the winner of Food Network Star‘s 11th season Sunday night. As a result of winning the Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis-hosted cooking competition show, Jackson has been awarded his own show on the Food Network – BBQ Blitz.

To win over the panel, the Houston-based chef and personal trainer, had to best Staten Island, N.Y., food truck owner Dom Tesoriero and Baton Rouge chef Jay Ducote.  

After retiring from football after only a few years on the gridiron, mostly due to a string of sidelining injuries, Jackson decided to make a career out of his second love – cooking. While working as a trainer, Jackson honed his cooking skills with a traveling food truck that catered Caribbean fare.

“I’ve been cooking my whole life — but I had to do some soul searching [after my injury]. I retired at only 28 years old. I had my whole life ahead of me, and there was this question, ‘What am I gonna do now?,'” Jackson told TVLine. “My dad was like, ‘What do you love to do?’ And I said “I love to cook.’ ‘Well do something with that!’ That made all the sense in the world. I practiced and worked on my skills, and it led to where I am today.”

Jackson came into the competition with Caribbean flavors in mind, but he ended up loosening up his plan and whipping up some impressive barbecue food on Flay’s advice. Although Jackson didn’t come up with the concept of BBQ Blitz, which will take him on the road to talk to fellow BBQ chefs, he couldn’t be happier with what the Food Network has in mind for his debut program.

“When I auditioned initially, they asked me what I was into, and that was the first thing I said, ‘Barbecue.’ And one of the very first memories I have of cooking was me and my dad on our patio out in our apartment, dealing with a small Weber grill, teaching me how to do steaks and how to smoke ribs, cover them in foil and baste,” Jackson revealed. “When I found out they gave me a pilot highlighting barbecue, I jumped through the roof. I was ecstatic.”

Jackson, who previously competed on Fox’s MasterChef, will soon get to work on BBQ Blitz. The show will premiere on the Food Network Friday, Oct. 9 at 10:30/9:30c.

Read more about: