Food wins!

9 10 2010

The verdict is in.

At a packed Jethro’s BBQ in the Drake area it was pure jubilation. When the premier began everyone in the restaurant was clapping and cheering. I’ve never seen so many people united for such an event in a restaurant.

(Thanks again to everyone for being there to enjoy the moment. Check out some DSM Register and Drake photos (article). And to the 12 people taking the challenge after the show – all valiant efforts, including one within a few bites of glory. Sadly, the end result is more pictures on the Wall of Shame. Sorry guys, better luck next time.)


Delicious meat awaits the 12 contestants after the Man vs Food viewing part at Jethros


The show went well, but there was certainly more to the filming than meets the eye.

For instance – the real Adam Richman.

I’m not insinuating what you see is a fake Richman, but off-camera is slightly different than when you tune into the Travel Channel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was he going to be funny? Serious? Light-hearted? A plain and simple get-after-it eater? Maybe a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fun-loving guy?

Instead, I saw a TV professional. Not in a bad way, but it certainly wasn’t his first rodeo. He had a very calculated approach to the show. He considered every step in the process. The setup. The end result of camera shots. What to say. When to say it. And even though he threw in his share of improv and witty comments, this was a TV production.

Before the taping began, Richman appeared from his mobile home (like any other TV/movie star) to address the crowd. I’m not actually quoting him, but here’s the general idea of his opening comments–

“Everyone. Thanks for coming out tonight. I’m so excited to be in Des Moines and wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you. My fans have been awesome and really given this show a life of its own.

That being said, I wish I had the chance to spend time with all of you. I am going to take pictures and talk to you as much as time allows before we begin.

However, I am asking you for your consideration afterwards. This is a lot of food and I probably will not be feeling well. So please understand if I am not available. And please do not slap me on the back. That does not feel good.

So thanks again everyone for coming out. I appreciate your patience and excitement.”

Not an exact quote, but you get the jist of it. The man was about to eat a five-pound sandwich. This is his livelihood

Understandable though. I mean, if you were eating five pounds of food, how would you be feeling afterward.

Richman retreated to his trailer as we waited for sandwich assembly and the production crew to set up. They informed the audience of the “rules” – Clap. Be loud. Show excitement. But when we get the sign, Richman will be speaking.  Transition into the golf clap – low noise, no talking.

Just another one of those things I never saw coming.

When Richman reemerged from the shadows, the place went crazy. It still wasn’t time for the challenge. Ipod in hand, Richman took his seat while rules came again.

Richman retreated to the trailer one last time, before coming back 10 minutes later. Finally, it was time.


Full of energy, Richman sprints through the crowd. Slapping hands. Dancing.

He sits down.

Here comes the monstrous mound of meat. Pandemonium in the ranks.

The challenge begins.

Chants . Lots of clapping. Yelling.  Cheering to encourage Richman’s eating frenzy.

Every few minutes, we went into the golf clap as our Man vs Food star gave his state-of-the-challenge addresses.

Various people were summoned to speak with the producer, and asked to offer a few words of encouragement. Even a kiss on the cheek (this didn’t make the final cut apparently).

The trend continued for the first 10 min of the competition.  (By the way, clapping and cheering for that long continuously is exhausting. Ask anyone who was there. I’m glad I wore # 15 in college and not 40.) At the 5 min mark, I was asked to come up and offer support. Receiving direction from the producers, I made my entrance, said my line, and sat my butt down.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite time for that. Too much background noise made it difficult to hear on film. Fantastic. I get a redo.

Back through the previous process. A slightly different form of encouragement. Regardless, the second try made the final cut.

After that? Well you know the rest. Two pounds remained on the plate. Food wins.

End result – I have a new appreciation for Mr. Richman and his chow-devouring prowess. He’s not a freak-show. He is a professional. That’s why the show has been so successful. That’s why it now has a cult-following. And that’s why I was so excited for the show to come to Des Moines.

Richman was funny. He had a lot of energy and made the show fun. But at the same time, do not dismiss him as being some clown/amateur/frat guy living on a couch going around eating ridiculous amounts of food with a camera in his face. He knows what he’s doing.

Hours after the show, I experienced another side of Richman. Since I did not get a chance to speak with Richman prior to the taping, he asked if we would hang around for a few minutes afterward.

The crowd dispersed and a few people remained. But, true to his word, he came out to talk. The hour approached 10 PM, nearly 12 hours after they setup shop at Jethro’s. Richman was obviously a little tired after a long day of filming and a full belly. He signed a menu and took a few pictures.

He was very genuine in conversation. He talked about wanting to take his mom to a restaurant in Alaska. Asked about where to get Drake merchandise for his nephew. Still witty and enjoyable, but he was just a normal guy.

Thanks again Man vs Food. Thanks for opening my eyes and helping me gain a newfound respect for your star and show. Thanks for treating everyone so well. For your gracefulness in making all these new people feel like your friends. And thanks for earning a new cult-follower.


Adam Richman and I pausing for a photo after the show. He signed a menu for me. I presented him with a Drake basketball T.



Welcome to the Meatvent

6 10 2010

Ding. Ding. Ding.

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the Meatvent. At 8PM Central tonight, Man vs Food’s Adam Richman will take the Adam Emmenecker challenge.

After weeks of speculation, the world will finally solve the mystery – can Adam Richman conquer The Adam Emmenecker Sandwich in 15 min?

Watch parties at Jethro’s locations across Des Moines. I’ll be at the original in the Drake area. Come join the fun. Or tune in at home. Either way, it promises to be a show Des Moines gluttons can be proud of for years to come.

See what others are saying

Des Moines Register

Omaha World Herald


Drake University

Cyclone Fanatic

Sioux City Journal

Sean Keeler

I want to send a big Thank You to Jethros BBQ for helping making all this happen. A special thanks to owner Bruce Gerleman for coming up with the idea and offering to put my name on the menu. A special thanks to Dom Iannarelli for sitting down with me and conceiving this monstrous mound of meat. A big shoutout to all the Jethros managers, servers, and cooks for treating me so well and making Jethros what it’s become today.

And of course, a big thanks to Adam Richman and the Man vs Food staff. It was great to see a behind-the-scenes look at such a production (more on this to come).

5lbs of NBA Playoff Goodness (With a Few Sides)

2 06 2010

As was so keenly pointed out by the Des Moines Register’s Sean Keeler, I’m not keeping up. I sound like a broke record. Anyway. Here’s what’s going on:

1.The WebMaster reached number 20. It seems this blog has become more devoted to his gastronomical feats than sports. In fear of running out of adjectives, that’s all I’ll say about that.

2. Former Drake football player Allen Ussin got his name on the board. Days before departing for a new job in Texas, Ussin labored through all five-pounds of meat and gets a well-deserved photo on the blog. Best of luck Al.

3. This weekend is the Principal Charity Classic. Look for myself, Brent Heemskerk, Luke “The Landlord” Frieberg, and the rest of the LDR’s as hosts around the 17th and 18th greens. The PCC promises to be a great time.

4. I am not looking forward to the NBA Finals. In fact, I will shun the NBA Playoffs like Dwight Schrute shunned Andy Bernard in The Office. I won’t even write about them. I won’t do it.

Ok, maybe because its necessary.


NBA Playoffs, I am disappointed in you. What began with such promise has produced nothing but series after series of disappointment.

In the Eastern Conference’s round 1 we saw two five-game series and a sweep. The only savior was an exciting seven-gamer between the Bucks and Atlanta. More than a good series, it was just a chance to root for an underdog.

Come on. There is no way an undermanned team like Milwaukee, void of its two best players, could defeat a vastly talented Atlanta Hawks squad. Not if both teams played hard anyway.

So why did it go seven games? You tell me, was it

a) Fear the Deer is such an amazing phenomena it could not be denied

b) the Hawks players wanted to remind us that NBA players have way more power than coaches (even sometimes the front office) by the way they continually disrespected Mike Woodson

c) the Hawks roster as a whole just doesn’t care

d) Mike Bibby died, therefore leaving the young and immature Hawk players without a guiding light.

e) All of the above

I vote e). Nothing short of all of those answers could’ve allowed that series to go to seven games.


Speaking of series that won’t go to seven-games, I’m not looking forward to the remainder of the quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup either. Don’t get me wrong, I love playoff hockey. I’m basically Canadian. But, I hate that the Chicago Blackhawks are in the NHL Finals.

My reasoning is two-fold. First and foremost because the Detroit Red Wings and only the Red Wings are allowed to represent the Western Conference. Secondly because the WebMaster and new housemate Jeremy Gehl are Blackhawks fans. The obnoxious yelps for joy watching their team score two goals in 30 seconds. I can’t take it. Not when the Red Wings should be in the Finals.

So yes, the Blackhawks will win. Like the Bucks, Philly is just overmatched. Chicago is too big and too skilled. They even have a better net-minder.

I pick the Flyers to win one game. Blackhawks in five. More importantly, in 2011, the Red Wings and Hockeytown will return to their rightful throne atop the NHL.

I digress.


Moving out West, the first round was a little better. Despite being the two-seed, Dallas couldn’t get the monkey off their back, falling to seventh-seeded San Antonio in six. That was entertaining.

Interestingly enough, every other first round Western series ended in six games too – Lakers over a tough Thunder squad, Utah over Denver, and Phoenix bettering the Blazers.

Second round action proved more of the same. Losing teams won a whopping 2 games combined. We knew Atlanta would get swept. The Lakers were too big inside for Utah. Sweep. And Phoenix finally got over their San Antonio hump. Sweep.

So the team that won … you guessed it, the Cleveland Delontes. Look, Boston never should’ve defeated the Cavaliers. This was supposed to be Cleveland’s year. The fans need it. The franchise needs it. The city needs it. The team is finally put together. Lebron has the pieces. They finished with the league’s best record. Have the league’s best player. And somehow, they seem to get along.

It was smooth sailing in the first round. Round two seemed more of the same. Until the former champion Celtics fought back. And Lebron seemingly quit. Come to think of it, the entire Cavs roster quit. But how? Why?

Enter Delonte West.

Notorious for his bipolar personality, being a red-headed African-American is just the beginning of the statistical anomaly that is Delonte West. West was once pulled over for speeding on his motorcycle while carrying a guitar case. An honest mistake. Except for the fact that the guitar case came packed with two handguns and a shotgun. Delonte, why a guitar case? Why TWO handguns? And a shotgun? And if you knew you were packing like that, why speed on your motorcycle Delonte?

Maybe a little unusual. But he’s a professional athlete. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The Cavaliers gave him a second chance.

And how does Delonte repay the city of Cleveland? By becoming the reason for one of the least inspired playoff losses for a superstar of all time. Delonte (you have to read this link)– you may have single-handedly swayed the course of basketball history. Based solely on your actions, Lebron James may defect from his hometown to a new franchise. The city of Cleveland hates you. What did they do to deserve this?


Quick side note – did everyone see the the Kendry Morales freak accident (fast-forward to about a minute in)? What a sad way to go. Early reports suggest he may be done for the year. He’s enjoyed a great two-year stretch and I wish him a healthy recovery. Moments like these make it easy to second-guess traditional celebrations.


Ok, we’re going to skip the conference Finals. After the first two games, there was little question we would see a Boston-LA rematch from 2008.

I liked seeing the Suns with Steve Nash and fellow Saginaw native Jason Richardson get to the Western Conference Finals. They were exciting and fun to watch. But Kobe has been unbelievable. Scoring. Sharing. Playing a great floor game (as much as it pains me to say it). The Suns didn’t have an answer for the game’s best closer.

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a Kobe fan. He’s selfish. Overconfident. Even phony at times. But I can’t deny his worth as a basketball player. Him taking over at the end of Game 6 vs the Suns is one of the best offensive displays I’ve witnessed. Fadeaways over two-three defenders. Over and Over. Like stabbing a knife right through my heart.

Even worse, I don’t see the trend changing. The mediocrity of the playoffs so far suggests a mediocre Finals. Even the historic LA-Boston rivalry can’t save the NBA this time.

Like the Atlanta Hawks, the Lakers have looked disinterested at times. Its just Kobe won’t let them lose. Maybe a game, but not a series.

Earlier in the Eastern Conference Finals, I thought the Celtics would be able to match the Lakers. They have size. They have experience. The Celtics roster is solid.

I am even encouraged by the progress of Rondo. I mean, how can I not appreciate a pass-first point guard, on a team with great scorers, who will do anything he can to get the job done? He’s played great. Even legendary. But, with his running mates showing their age late in the series against the Magic, I can’t see the Celts defeating LA in a best of seven.

My prediction – LA in six.  Maybe the Celts can string a few together. Maybe Kevin Garnett’s legs will be rejuvenated. Maybe the Big Three can go for one more ring. I’m hopeful. But not optimistic.

(Shunning resumed)

I am a huge Wolverine fan.

6 05 2009

Even though I really meant to get an update out earlier, and promised one, it just wasn’t in the cards for the end of last week. To summarize, despite being told we would have Tuesday and Wednesday off since we were going two weeks without a game, our schedule quickly changed. We ran Monday evening, had Tuesday off, practiced twice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and were given the weekend off. Not too bad I guess but it made for a busy week.

On Thursday I went to see our team doctor to discuss a pain I was having in my left foot. That night, I had an MRI, which just happens to be my sixth of the season, to go along with a CT scan, and four or five X-Rays (I’m hoping all those are records). After going under the enormous bubble looking thing and trying to lie motionless for about an hour, while listening to atrocious banging sounds, my pictures showed badly flared up tendonitis. Fortunately, we had time to rest so I was given the rest of Thursday and Friday off to go along with my weekend break.

However, having a foot injury really limits things you can do if you don’t want to walk around. I did get a chance to see the new X-Men Origins movie highlighting Wolverine. A couple of my teammates went the night before and were impressed (one of the great things about living in Frankfurt is the presence of an English movie theater. Though not necessarily new, its nice to be able to watch movies in English, adding an extra option to evening plans.). I was also impressed as I thought the writers did a good job of using the prequel to explain and tie the story into existing movies. I am not a huge X-Men fan or follower, but it was a good action movie with an easy to follow story.

Other than that, during the weekend I spent some time doing rehab on my foot and trying to relax for the upcoming weeks. Keith and I did venture downtown on Saturday for a few hours, and stumbled across a collection some street vendors. I also gave him the walking tour of old Frankfurt (at least most of what I remembered) after going on the tour myself over Easter Sunday.

To start this week, we lifted and practiced Monday morning and then had a friendly game against the first place team in the Czech Republic that night. I saw the doctor before our morning practice and was cleared to play. The game did not go very well for our team though, as we were down 20 points early and could never recover. I guess that’s what happens sometimes after a few days off.

Waking up Tuesday morning, we had practice scheduled for 8AM, our earliest of the year. While that is not too big of a problem for me, for some of my teammates it is a big adjustment. Rarely do we have anything before 10AM, including breakfast. As I went through practice, I noticed the sharp pain in my foot continued to get worse. For the first time since I can remember, I took myself out of practice purely based on my decision. It was too painful.

Now, it is Wednesday afternoon and I’ve continued to spend my time rehabbing and swimming to make sure I stay in as close to game shape as possible. We have another friendly game today against a team from Turkey, but I will not be participating. Hopefully, this one will go better than our last game.

Anyway, I know this really isn’t anything exciting, but I’ll work on that. Playoffs are drawing closer and our last regular season game is this Saturday.

By the way, I would like to send a shout-out to Sean Keeler of the Des Moines Register. Sean and I have been in contact with some regularity since I’ve ventured to Germany and has been a great supporter. To do my part, I’ve tried to answer any questions he’s come up with for me. But, he has went above and beyond, even referencing my blog on the Register’s website. So thank you Sean for your support and welcome to all the new readers. Again, I am encouraging people to leave messages – its makes it so much easier to write about things people would WANT to know.

Oh! And by the way #2 – I just want to make sure I say how jealous I am of many of my “friends” including the WebMaster who took their planned trip to Vegas this weekend. It was something we talked about since the middle of our senior year in college, but unfortunately the time that worked for them made it impossible for me. I must admit, I am a little upset and insanely jealous but am glad to see they all returned safely without losing too much money or self-respect. Thanks jerks!