We Recommend: Man v. Food

Fancy ten pounds of burger and fries followed by the hottest ever curry? Man v Food does…

I’ve known about Man v. Food for a good two – three years now but have only just been able to sit down and watch any of it. This was due to my not having the right channels available thanks to the subscriptions I had / hadn’t chosen. Having now seen the show there are two ways to look at this; glass half-full or glass half-empty:

1) Oh my word why have I never seen this absolutely awesome show before?

2) This is amazing – there must be loads of episodes just waiting for me to devour and gorge myself on?

Either reaction is fine. It is just a very cool, very fun, show. The presenter and the Man who stands versus food show after show is Adam Richman, a native New Yorker and self educated food expert (he has worked in the food business since the mid 1990’s and in all different types of restaurant and by extension with all kinds of foods).

The premise of the show is that Mr Richman travels around the United States of America to explore the culture and the big food specific to that town or city. What this means is he’ll visit a variety of restaurants learning about their history (for example, in New York he ate at a deli which has been serving the same foodstuff for over one hundred years) and specialities (soul food, insanely spicy chicken, pastrami sandwiches) and then the big finish to any show is him tackling that place’s challenge. America is well known for its crazy quantities of food. What the Man does is he finds the biggest, most insane food challenge possible – for example, eating a phaal (the hottest curry ever) or tackling the five pound burger challenge (plus the five pounds of fries included!).

The show lasts thirty minutes at a time and benefits from this because each section of the show is engaging but doesn’t overstay its welcome. The energy and enthusiasm of the presenter is magnificent and really drives things along, explaining about the various foods and when the time comes, the history of a given challenge. The other benefit of it being just thirty minutes is that you’ll not be too hungry by the time it finishes…

The fascinating highlight of the show is of course the challenge undertaken. The actual Man versus Food moment. This is previewed throughout the show but is held back as the big grandstand finish. It’s always worth the wait. Seeing it play out, from talking to the restaurant owners and chefs about the challenge, how many attempts and failures there have been, the best and worst case results (bleeding nose from too hot a curry?) all the way to Richman’s first experience and then how he fares throughout, is all really good fun. It’s entertainment even though the guy is clearly struggling at times. But he still loves it and as such, how can the viewer not?

The newest series sees Richman recruiting and coaching locals to take on the challenges in order to keep the format fresh. There are also rumblings about a Man v. Food UK special, or series. That would be highly encouraged as of course anything he shows in that series would be much easier for UK based fans of the show to visit and recreate Man’s attempt at the showpiece event centered in that destination.

There are nearly sixty episodes to date and although only previously available in the UK through the Good Food Channel, it’s now airing on Dave and Dave Ja Vu (also Dave HD) at various points during the week. We encourage you wholeheartedly to watch and partake in the banquets put before you – you’ll see some food you like the idea of, some places that appeal. You’ll see a man eat quite enormous quantities of food, or crazily put himself through hell to beat what’s put in front of him. You’ll quite likely drop your jaw at some things and at others wonder why anyone would eat that. But at the end you’ll have a smile on your face, hunger pangs will kick in and you’ll have inspiration for your own, most likely more manageable, meal.

Luciano Howard

Updated: Nov 14, 2011

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We Recommend: Man v. Food | The Digital Fix