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Food Network chef Eddie Jackson said chef Bobby Flay has been both a friend and a mentor. Jackson’s journey from the NFL to chef was paved by some of the best advice from Flay and he recently reflected on Flay’s impact on his career as a chef.

“Me and Bobby are really close,” Jackson shared with Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Only because I consider him a mentor. When I started on Food Network seven years ago he literally was my mentor.” This mentorship turned into a friendship. Plus Jackson has starred alongside Flay on shows like BBQ Brawl and Beat Bobby Flay – where Jackson is now a formidable competitor.

Bobby Flay’s Food Network advice had nothing to do with cooking

While Jackson has likely gleaned endless cooking tips from Flay he said the best advice he received from the celebrity chef was about reinvention – something Jackson certainly understands.

Bobby Flay at a red carpet event. Eddie Jackson and his father Eddie Jackson, Sr. hold a plate of chicken wings in front of a stove.
Bobby Flay, Eddie Jackson, and Eddie Jackson Sr. |Andrew Toth/FilmMagic/Whirlpool

“The one thing that Bobby does is he keeps reinventing himself,” Jackson said. “Whether it’s through his cooking, whether it’s through his hosting style, he’s always trying to do something new. And I feel like if you want to stick around in this industry, you have to be able to do that. And that’s just something that he’s been able to do very successfully for about 20 years now.”

Bobby Flay also told Eddie Jackson to stay true to himself

In an interview with Mashed, Flay also told Jackson to stay humble. “Stay true to myself,” Jackson said. “I don’t walk around and say, ‘I’m a world-class chef,’ because I’m not a world-class chef. I’m a great chef, but I haven’t been cooking for 40 years like Bobby Flay. Eventually, I think I can get there, but I just stay true to myself, stay true to my flavors. I feel like that is what has really gotten me to where I’m at today.”

He added, “Bobby has great versatility in his cooking, and I pride myself on being able to do that. That’s something that I’ve noticed with Bobby. No matter what he’s cooking, he really has a very versed knowledge of ways to prepare things … Those are kind of the tricks and things that I’ve learned being around Bobby Flay.”

Eddie Jackson has run with that advice

Jackson has certainly taken Flay’s advice, boldly exploring new shows on Food Network and trying new approaches to cooking. His new Food Network show, Outchef’d premieres on September 27 and he’s excited about the opportunities the show offers to home cooks.

“I love that show because it really is kind of like a wish fulfillment show,” he explained. “People that actually watch Food Network, just the average home cook, now have an outlet where they can be on the show. But then they also get to meet some of their idols and cook against their idols. So they’re not just a Monday morning quarterback. So they say, Oh, I could have done that, I would have done that.’ Now it’s time for you to prove it.”

Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wings
Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wings |Whirlpool

These Bobby Flay Potato Salads Are Perfect for a Labor Day Cookout

Jackson is also adventuring into using cool appliances like the new Air Fry Mode on his Whirlpool® Smart Range, which helps cook crispy wings with less oil than traditional frying and without the need to clutter kitchen counters with another appliance. He recently turned to his Whirlpool Smart Range for his mouthwatering gameday air-fried Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wings

“This is so cool because it’s the first time I used an oven as an air fryer!” he exclaimed. “So I was able to cook, not just like five wings that you would do on a countertop. I cooked like two pounds of wings at one time. So I thought that was just amazing.”