Monday, May 30, 2011

Epic Meal Time—A Cooking Show for People Who Would Never Watch a Cooking Show (by Jeff Mandell)

If eating a couple pounds of bacon and washing it down with hard liquor is your idea of a feast, then you may have found your messiah in Harley Morenstein, the creator of the hit YouTube cooking show Epic Meal Time. For everyone else, the weekly videos are a sometimes funny and sometimes disgusting demonstration of what some guys with a love of meat and a disdain for all other food groups (except alcohol) can do with a little imagination. This is a show in which the hosts go to great lengths to avoid giving the impression that they possess any special culinary knowledge, although an observant viewer can tell that their preparations are well-practiced. In one episode, a pig wrapped in bacon is stuffed with a turkey filled with chicken and bacon for a "Thanksgiving" meal. In another, Morenstein leads the creation of the most revolting lasagna ever made; nearly a foot deep, it is made up of fast food burgers, cheese, bacon, and chili. In a less typical episode, the cast "takes over" an Indian restaurant in a mock hold-up, and then directs the kitchen in the production of such things as giant samosas, triple-layer naan pizzas, and "candied curry bacon Jack Daniels shots."

Epic Meal Time gets some of its staying power from the wit of its hosts. While clearly honoring the pleasures of eating meat, Morenstein and company subtly poke fun at their own enterprise, demonstrating that they aren't the complete Neanderthals that they enjoy depicting. Although not everyone gets the joke, the sense of humor shows through during the Thanksgiving episode when the cooked pig is "garnished" with Wendy's Bacon Cheeseburgers. What I like most about the show is that Morenstein manages to be very entertaining (and convincing) in his role as an intimidating and borderline insane master of ceremonies without losing a sense of proportion. He is a self-aware actor who can make fun of himself and the entire concept of his show. The show would be a lot less interesting if Morenstein were not so multidimensional. As long as the crew can continue to come up with fresh ideas—eventually, it can get hard to think of anything new to wrap in bacon—Epic Meal Time will be a continued success.

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