|Jason Smith during the show finale|
(Food Network photo by Zach Dilgard)
Smith faced off against two other finalists on the Aug. 13 finale of the 11-week cooking show before celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis announced him as the winner. He's no stranger to the channel, though: last year he won the Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship. The Laurel County native (who works for Carter County Schools) says he first learned to love cooking from his mother and grandmother.
On the show, Smith was known for his bold fashion and colorful country sayings. When he made a mountain berry compote with nuts and a molasses ginger mousse, he told others on the show that "My mountain berry dessert is so delicious, yo tongue will slap yo brains out," the Herald-Leader reports.
The show's runners and contestants loved his authenticity. "Something that struck a chord that I’ve heard Bobby, Giada and a lot of the other guests tell me a few times is, 'We really like him, because he is comfortable in his skin, he is true to himself, he is true to where he comes from,'" Smith said in a Food Network interview. "And Bobby and Giada have told me: 'Never lose that. Always tell those stories of Kentucky. Always be yourself, and you will be fine.' That’s something that I will always hold near and dear to my heart, because I am myself. I am just Jason. I’m not going to be anything else but what I am."