'Man v. Food': It's all about quantity

Posted June 4, 2018 3:56 p.m. EDT

ATLANTA -- Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" returned last year after a five-year break with a new host, Casey Webb, taking over for Adam Richman.

For those who don't know much about the show, it's all about over-the-top dishes, concluding with the host attempting to chow down on a gargantuan amount of a particular food item in a short period of time.

"It's been a really crazy ride," said Webb, who estimates he has finished at least half the challenges so far after about 40 episodes.

Webb was in Atlanta recently to visit three restaurants: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in Candler Park, BeetleCat in Inman Park and Midtown's the Nook, where he tackled a 5-pound mound of tater-tot nachos.

He typically spends one shooting day at each restaurant. He obviously consumed plenty of barbecue at Fox Bros.

"They're Texas guys who brought Texas style to Atlanta," Webb said. "We ate the beef short rib. It's just a monster of a dish."

He then sampled Beetlecat's doughnut brunch dish featuring fried chicken sandwiched by doughnuts in its basement space. "It has a shag rug and the feel of a quirky uncle's basement from the 1970s," Webb said.

At the Nook, he took on what's dubbed the Macho Totcho challenge for $35. Webb had 90 minutes to consume it all. If he won, he received a T-shirt and his photo on the wall. Who needs a real big prize?

"It's just the glory of man beating food," Webb said.

The New Jersey native coincidentally ran into an old high school football buddy T.C. Lewis in Atlanta and they had lunch at Fox Bros. "We were in the football trenches together," he said.

He said the original show, which ran from 2008 to 2012, spawned hundreds of food challenges nationwide and he thinks the current one is doing the same. He is just happy to help restaurants generate business, especially since the network often airs these shows numerous times in repeats.

Webb said so far he has not gained a significant amount of weight for his job, but is working out more to burn the extra calories. "I'm mindful to keep things in balance," he said.

And his methodology to squeeze a lot of food in his stomach in a short time is not overly scientific. He drinks a lot of water and almost no other food the day of the challenge. Believe it or not, he said he has not vomited a single morsel of food. "When I'm full, I stop eating," he said.

Some challenges involve eating something super spicy. He tends to do better with those, said Webb, who lives in New York.

"I'm wasn't a professional food eater before doing this," Webb said. "I still don't consider myself one. I'm an underdog who just shows up and gives it a try."

He loves this gig and hopes to do it as long as Travel Channel lets him. "We're finishing a third season and are staring down the barrel of a fourth," he said. "I love working and I love traveling and meeting all these great people along the way."



"Man v. Food," 9 p.m. Mondays, Travel.

Rodney Ho writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Email: rho(at)ajc.com.

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