Peabody Reflector

The Food Dude

Eddie Gilbert, BS’01, MEd’02

by Lew Harris | Fall 2009, Peabody People | No Comment | |

Eddie-GilbertEddie Gilbert has already had his 15 minutes of fame. However, competing on a Food Network reality show likely won’t be the last 15 minutes of fame for this high-octane personality with two degrees from Peabody.

Gilbert, whose degrees are in human and organizational development (HOD), has packed a lot of living into his 30 years. Active in all sorts of student organizations at Vanderbilt, he began watching the Food Network and working for the alternative rock band Llama while at Peabody. After graduation, he became tour manager for the band. He then joined the prestigious William Morris Agency in Hollywood as a recruiter. Accustomed to interviewing dozens of people a month for jobs at William Morris, he breezed through a series of interviews and two on-camera cooking demonstrations to make the final field of 10 for the fifth season of The Next Food Network Star.

His star was on the ascent when he won a challenge competition in which the contestants were all required to create a tasty “man food.” Esquire men’s magazine has since printed Gilbert’s winning recipe. He grilled a New York strip steak and served it with his special Tennessee Drunken Braised Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash, topped with spicy Caribbean chutney. Despite his winning recipe, he was eliminated at the end of the third episode.

“To this day I still don’t feel that I deserved to go home, but I have no regrets about the decisions I made and I stand behind every dish I put on a plate,” he says. “HOD gave me the courage to trust in myself, trust my instincts and recognize and execute when there was an opportunity to really shine.”

HOD gave me the courage to trust in myself, trust my instincts and recognize and execute when there was an opportunity to really shine.

He was first inspired to cook while camping in Moab, Utah. Fellow campers loved his Croque Madame, a sandwich made of cheese, ham and mustard, fried in a skillet and topped with an egg cooked “over easy.” When he returned to Los Angeles, Gilbert attended a culinary school for a while and then decided the best way to learn was on the job in a restaurant kitchen.

The filming of The Next Food Network Star ended in February, and all 10 contestants were sworn to secrecy until April. The season finale aired August 2 and drew 4.7 million viewers. Gilbert has since done a couple of celebrity chef stints, some catering, judged a cooking contest and is designing a menu for a Los Angeles restaurant. He also maintains his Web site: www.foods4dudes.com.

He’s considering a move to New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, or somewhere in the South—possibly Nashville—to resume his restaurant work.

Stay tuned for Eddie Gilbert’s next 15 minutes of fame.

photo credits: Courtesy of The Food Network

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