‘MasterChef’ USA season 4 interview: Eddie Jackson on sushi, fitness, handling pressure

Eddie speaks out -With every season of a reality show, you have a few characters who you think would have almost certainly stood out more had they been given the opportunity. Eddie Jackson from “MasterChef” is one of them. The former NFL player proved to be a great interview last week, as he was funny, honest, and gave some insight into how someone used to pressure in big moments had to adapt to a completely different sort of pressure that comes with trying to impress Gordon Ramsay and a panel of judges.

CarterMatt – So what’s the feeling watching yourself back on TV? Is there some sort of weird deja vu that comes with it?

It definitely was. It wasn’t the first time that I saw myself on TV or anything, but doing something outside of sports, and actually watching myself cook on TV …It was actually nice to see some of my facial expressions ’cause you were never able to see that. It was kind of funny.

Was it nice to have an opportunity to show people a little bit more of who you actually are as a person?

It is nice to see who you are, so to speak, or how you’re perceived. That’s the cool thing about it. We do a lot of interviews and stuff like that, and as a whole, people really get a chance to see what your personality is like.

Is cooking something that you did often while you were in sports, or is this something that you’ve picked up more recently in hopes to find a new second career?

I’ve cooked my whole life. Both of my grandmothers were cooks at the local hospitals where I grew up, and my whole family cooks. I actually learned how to cook really from my dad, and I took it with me. When I went to college, I would cook a day a week for the guys. They would come over and we would build camaraderie. I just fell in love with it.

I cooked all through college, and then I took it with me to the NFL. But then when I retired, I was like ‘what am I going to do now’? Well, I love to cook and I love to work out, so that’s what I’m going to do.

So did cooking pretty much make you the most popular guy in every locker room ever?

Oh definitely. Everybody was always like ‘what’re you cooking this week Eddie,’ and I would have barbecues over at my place. People would RSVP and come over because they said that they loved it.

I know that going through the show’s audition experience and dealing with the judges can be tough, but do you think that you were a little bit more prepared thanks to what you’ve been through in pressure situations already with people who are not always the nicest?

It’s so true. I wasn’t intimidated at all by the judges. I’ve been around big personalities all my life and around guys who are extremely intimidating. I played with Bill Belichick, and everyone knows how intimidating he can be. I also played under Nick Saban, and he’s the same type of guy. And Gordon Ramsay is that type, and he can be [like that]. But I like [these kind of guys] because they are so talented at what they do and they can help you.

More than anything, I put more pressure on myself to try to succeed rather than being intimidated by them each week.

How did you handle all of the crazy personalities on the show this year? While you’ve been around a lot of people with strong wills in the past, I don’t know if all of them were quite like this.

I think that I’ve been around so many personalities in my life that I’ve had to deal with, and it really helped. As you can see on the show, we had¬†all types¬†of personalities. We had the big, over-the-top people that really don’t care too much about anyone else. I think honestly, more so than anyone else, I was able to put that to the side and really concentrate on what the goal was, and that was to try and win.

All right, so have you been able to forgive sushi after what you went through?

(Laughs) I love sushi man, it’s good and healthy! But at the same time, I really don’t know anyone who loves to make sushi for dinner, and go buy a uni and make sushi out of it.

I really wasn’t upset because I got sent home over sushi, because not everyone knows how to make it, and we were making it with a product that you can’t even find in the grocery store.

So now that you’ve gone through this experience, is there anything that you are specifically hoping to do moving forward?

Right now I have a brand called FIT CHEF, and I’m pushing that. [It] is for people who understand that food and fitness goals go hand-in-hand; you can’t have one without the other. We have a unique cookbook that we’re working on that is going to be a training manual and also contain some recipes.

I’d love to get a show; after you finish training, what are you going to eat now? I’d like to show people [what are the best options for them].

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Thanks to there not being an eliminated contestant last week, this will be the last home cook that we’ll be speaking to for at least the next week or so; but if you want to check out some other interviews and episode reviews in our archive, just be sure to head on over to the link here.

Photo: Fox

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