Kentucky school cafeteria manager is Food Network’s next big ‘Star,’ gets a cooking show

Jason Smith said he was speechless “for once” after winning his own cooking show on cable TV’s Food Network.
Jason Smith said he was speechless “for once” after winning his own cooking show on cable TV’s Food Network. Photo provided

Kentuckian Jason Smith, a school cafeteria manager from Carter County, beat out two other competitors Sunday night on cable TV’s Food Network to win his own cooking show. Smith earned the title of Food Network’s Next Star, according to the network’s magazine.

Smith, 39, beat out a number of challengers during the 11-week contest.

“Gosh. For once in my life, I’m speechless. I’m very honored,” Smith told Food Network Star. I’m very humbled. ... I’m very excited. I feel like I have made an accomplishment beyond accomplishments that I’ve ever set for myself. Or it still hasn’t sunk in.”

During Sunday night’s show announcing the winner, Smith, a native of Laurel County, credited his mother, Conniea Laurel County resident, for his success. Celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis announced the winner during the show.

In 2016, he won the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship,” propelling him to this show, competing against 11 other cooks.

Smith, who is known for his equally colorful jackets and sayings, said his interest in cooking began in his grandmother’s kitchen and was nurtured by his mother and other relatives. He also credited his family for his memorable phrases.

In the second episode, the dessert he made was a mountain berry compote with nuts and a molasses ginger mousse.

“My mountain berry dessert is so delicious, yo tongue will slap yo brains out,” he said on the show.

In an interview with, he described his culinary point of view as “country bling.”

“Now, that’s not where I’m cooking with rhinestones on my jeans. What that is, is I take old, dying country recipes, and I bring them back to life and make them modern, elevated and fancied up a little bit.

The Courier-Journal reported last week: “If the Kentucky cook from Carter County wins, he won’t be the first from the Commonwealth to be awarded a Food Network gig. Louisville chef Damaris Phillips started her celebrity chef career after winning Season 9 of ‘Food Network Stars.’ Phillips became the host of the Food Network show ‘Southern at Heart’ and has stayed busy ever since.”