‘The Next Food Network Star’: L.A.'s Jeffrey Saad is the Spice Smuggler

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Look who’s back. Jeffrey Saad, who came thisclose to winning Season Five of ‘The Next Food Network Star’ has earned a spot at the table after all. His video series, ‘The Spice Smuggler,’ was unveiled today at

Saad, you may recall, was the Bel-Air real estate agent who tried out for the food world’s version of ‘American Idol’ after a friend watched him cooking in the kitchen and said ‘You should be on TV.’ Saad entered the competition so strongly that he was favored to win it from Day One -- until it was stolen from him by Little Mrs. Sunshine, Melissa d’Arabian. Unfortunately, Saad was a victim of his own success. He was so proficient in front of the cameras from the start, that it (unfairly) backfired. It looked like he hadn’t grown much over the course of the competition. D’Arabian, meanwhile, showed steady and impressive growth, and is now hosting ‘Ten Dollar Dinners.’ Food Network couldn’t turn its back on Saad, however -- hence the new gig.

Utterly unrelated observation: Does Food Network run a sweatshop or what? D’Arabian went right to work the morning after winning the grueling competition. And from the looks of the number of videos lined up online, Saad didn’t get much of a break either. Actually, both of these competitors wanted to win so badly that I bet they were thrilled to get to work as quickly as possible.

-- Rene Lynch