Los Angeles’ Eddie Gilbert might have wowed the Next Food Network Star judges with his Brussels sprouts early on in the season, but in the end, the judges decided this young chef was not quite seasoned enough to make it all the way. While I was rooting for him in the bottom three (Teddy’s such a backstabber! Come on!), Eddie has the charisma, and the good attitude about “not winning,” as he calls it, to go far in the food biz.
Did you watch last night?
I actually watched it when I got home late last night when we got home after Father’s Day—we were having a barbeque at my parents’ house and I cooked. I just came home and watched it last night with my girlfriend. I already knew what was going to happen so I wanted to watch it in my own little universe.
What did you cook for Father’s Day?
Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, the hash I won the Esquire challenge with, halibut tacos with a cilantro, lime and mango chutney. The holidays are all about food for me. [Though], knowing I was going to be kicked off on Father’s Day, I had to be really delicate about how I handled that because I wanted to make sure my dad had a great day. All of a sudden my phone starts going off the hook at around seven o’clock because the East Coast had already watched [the episode], and [my dad] was like ‘why is your phone ringing so much?’ So I told him and he didn’t care, he wasn’t upset. He was happy for me and proud of me. But it wasn’t about me. It was Father’s Day–it wasn’t about me on television. I’m not ruining my dad’s day so everyone can feel bad.
You weren’t going to be moping around.
I feel so lucky to have been on the show. I’ve only been a chef for a year [so] to even have the chance, to have a platform like the Food Network where I can have a chance to play around and have fun and meet some amazing people, I mean, there’s nothing bad about that.
What was your take on what went down last night?
I still don’t think I deserved to go home but that’s not really up to me. I’m not saying that I didn’t make some mistakes, it was just hard for me to swallow that I won a challenge in the second week and then ended up in the bottom three. If you win something like that I think it validates that you deserve to be there. I think it maybe should have counted a little bit more for me. But, at the same time, the things I made weren’t consistent enough that [the judges] felt that I deserve to stay. I was frustrated that I got called the amateur and that my authority was challenged—it’s hard to be told you don’t know what you’re doing when you win something. If I’m not mistaken some of the comments were that my Brussels spouts were the best dish they’d eaten at that point in the competition.
How are you feeling now?
I am a little bummed because I thought I had a good chance to win. Coming as a new chef, as somebody with a little bit less formal training, I definitely have very few rules when I’m in the kitchen and I think my style is representative of that. I thought that would be very valuable for the Food Network—something a little different, something a little spicy, something a little younger would have been very valuable. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to prove that right, but at the same time I got to get up there and have a good time, which was great.
What are you up to now?
I’m [working] at a few different restaurants in L.A. just to keep busy and also working some freelance line shifts. I have a website now Foods4Dudes.com, which is not a guy-driven website necessarily, but it’s an all-encompassing, one-stop-shop for the common foodie. It’s geared toward guy food, but that’s probably because I’m a guy and I cook food for myself so, not that there aren’t recipes that are friendly for everybody—vegetarian, men, women, children, it doesn’t matter—but I think you have to cater to yourself. Being authentic to who you are allows everything to come out naturally.
Do you talk to anyone from the show?
At the end of the summer I’m going to Washington D.C. for a week to visit Teddy and his restaurant. He’s actually become one of my best friends. I thought it was really funny because we developed this great friendship on the show and we’re sitting there in the bottom two in the Stew Room waiting for them to call us back down and we both look at each other and I’m like, ‘Dude, don’t worry about it. It’s okay. Whatever happens happens.’ Truthfully what meant more to me that anything is that the friendships I made from the show transcend everything else. It makes not winning—because I don’t think losing is the right word—a lot more palatable. I’m happy to say that the other nine people I went through this with will always have a place in my life and I still have a very good relationship with a lot of them.