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Friday, June 14, 2024

Ocala restaurateur guest judges Food Network show in Florida

An Ocala restaurateur got a chance to be a guest judge on a new Food Network show where he helped determine the “best bite” in a Florida town.

Rashad Jones, who owns Big Lee’s BBQ, was a guest judge on last week’s episode of Best Bite in Town, a new series hosted by Guy Fieri. The episode aired on the Food Network on Friday, May 31 at 9 p.m.

The show, which is in its first season, highlights restaurants within a city in a friendly competition to find the “best bite” in the area.

The winning restaurant is awarded $5,000, while a charity of the winner’s choice receives a $5,000 donation.

During Friday’s episode, six restaurants from Port St. Lucie, Florida were highlighted for their signature dishes.

Those restaurants were whittled down to three, and their corresponding dishes were presented to the judges.

Jones had high praise for the three dishes that he sampled during the competition.

Best Bite in Town featured guest judge Rashad Jones (right) during its most recent episode. (Photo: Rashad Jones)
Rashad Jones was featured on the most recent episode of Best Bite in Town, which took place in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo: Rashad Jones)

“The aroma that just hits you in the face as soon as this dish is presented. Man, you’re hitting all the right notes,” said Jones of the first dish, jerk chicken, that he sampled. That dish was prepared by Ketch a Fire, a local food truck operated by Shaquille and Prema Palmer.

“Your flavors are bold. I don’t feel anything in this dish being weak,” said Jones.

The Ocala businessman and his fellow judges then went on to sample a “gyropitakia,” or a “Greek wonton.” That dish was prepared by Think Greek, a greek restaurant owned by Stella Koufalis.

“When you look at the inside of this thing, it’s like a ballroom and a bunch of flavors just dancing around in there,” said Jones of the dish.

The third and final dish was a meat sampler platter prepared by My Brother’s Barbecue, a spot owned by James Thompson, Jr.

“What do we need these for, it’s brisket?” said Jones as he tossed away his silverware during the taste test. “Look at this,” he said as he held up the tender brisket.

“From one barbecue guy to another, this is excellent, excellent barbecue,” said Jones. “You should be super proud of yourself.”

In the end, Jones and his fellow judges awarded the title of “Best Bite” to the “gyropitakia” at Think Greek.

“I had such an amazing time being a part of this awesome show! The whole experience was a great time,” said Jones in a statement posted to his social media. “Thanks @guyfieri for being an inspiration, mentor, and big bro…you always look out, and my family & I will always have nothing but love & respect for you.”

The appearance on Best Bite in Town is one of several for the Ocala restaurateur on the popular food channel in recent years.

Last Summer, on the same weekend that he opened his first brick-and-mortar location in Ocala, Jones claimed victory in Beat Bobby Flay with his smoked barbecue wings and blueberry barbecue sauce.

Jones also hosted Eat, Sleep, BBQ on the network and made appearances in Guy’s Grocery Games and BBQ Brawl, among other shows.