Contest Time

12 05 2011

Monday was just a regular day. The sun was shining. The weather was warm (second warmest city in the US that day). I, like many others, was slowly adjusting from weekend bliss back to the workday grind. And the WebMaster? The WebMaster was doing what he does best — scour the internet.

By mid-afternoon, the chase was on. I received an email with a link to a facebook site. (For those familiar with large corporations, facebook is often on the list of unnavigable websites). Knowing this, the WebMaster put together a short description of his find.

“ESPN is hosting a best sandwich named after an athlete contest.”

A true statement, but not exactly descriptive. I asked for a little more detail. WebMaster proceed to tell me that ESPN is hosting a Fanwich facebook challenge. People/restaurants submit photos and a description of their athlete-named sandwich for facebookers to vote a winner. However, he did give me the disclaimer that only REAL athletes had sandwiched posted at that time.

I couldn’t argue with him. The names on the list are a who’s who of professional athletes. I certainly don’t belong in that league. However, the partnership with Jethros and our Man vs Food success means maybe, just maybe our overweight-yet-underdog sandwich has a chance.

What do you think?

Vote here

Check out some great work from Andy Garman (link 1, link 2) and Sean Keeler. Also look to the Jethro’s Homepage for more detail.

Thanks for your support!


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).

Meatdreams do come true

28 09 2010

And we thought it was a pipe dream.

Adam, Adam, and The Chef

I guess the word got out.

Travel Channel supershow Man v. Food’s star Adam Richman accepted the challenge. Travelling to Des Moines a few weeks ago, Richman took on The Emmenecker in a test of wills.

The challenge: 5 pounds of meat and toobers

The timeframe: 15 minutes

The setting: Jethros BBQ in Des Moines. And millions of home worldwide

When: Coming to a cable network provider (on the Travel Channel) near you – Oct 6th for the world premier

I’ll post more before closer to the airing. But the shoot was an awesome night. Adam Richman and his crew were all class, and Jethros hosted a great event.

And before you ask, no. I can’t tell you whether he finished or not. Unless you have an excellent lawyer that can undo the oath of silence we all took. But even then probably not because their security guy was pretty scary.

The Number 19

8 05 2010

It was a struggle.

I’ve never seen anything like it. Every other time the WebMaster’s workman-like attitude owns the meat.

Last night, the meat almost owned him. Almost.

The WebMaster meets his competition

At Jethros along with myself, Luke Frieberg, one Brent Heemskerk, and MotherMaster, our own WebMaster had a fight on his hands. Choosing to attack The Emmenecker for the 20th time*, he seemed ready.

Earlier this week, he informed me his mother was coming into town. Like all good sons, he wanted to provide  a Mother’s Day gift for the ages. He wanted the MotherMaster to witness a feat of greatness.

We ordered. They knew what he wanted.

The food came quickly and he went to work. Meticulously sprinkling the Hot BBQ sauce for the perfect taste combination. Using the double-handed smash and wide-mouthed munch to devour the meat. I’ve seen it all more than a dozen times.

Halfway through things still looked great. I’d barely started my meal, but the tell-tale signs or greatness were taking shape. His face looked like a mural for grease, cheese, and crumbs. True majesty.

Halfway with much more in store. The awesome glow of grease halo's the WebMaster's enticing mug

It wasn’t until the final few bites that I began to worry. Normally, the WebMaster’s eating prowess allows him to finish mega-bites before I complete my meal. However, as I stared upon my spotless plate, the WebMaster had chomps to go. Plural.

Laboring, he wasn’t himself. He continued to stare at his meat. His digestive tract begged him to stop. Mind over matter. He had to get it done.

One bite. Then another. Then another. The once massive sandwich now seemed so small in the WebMaster’s always steady hands.

Only a few steps to go. But the stomach resisted. He needed a break.

Brent finished his rack of ribs. Luke and MotherMaster sent their empty plates once filled with the Home and Garden Melt. And then there was one.

Struggling over the last few bites he was going to finish. We could see it in his eyes.

Victory! Despite a maybe-just-a-little-bit-bigger-than-normal Emmenecker, the WebMaster got his 19th.

A quick run to the bathroom and we were on our way. Proud mother in tow.(Well, ok. Maybe his run to the bathroom wasn’t so quick. But come on. After that effort, he deserved it.)

In the past 24 hours, I’ve been peppered with texts, emails, and cries of discomfort. The performance was second to none. The pain represents the struggle all athletes endure post-competition. He wins again.

I’m impressed.

Respect. All the respect to you, WebMaster.

*One time (and only one time), the WebMaster did not complete the sandwich. The reasons were legit. I gave him no forewarning. He was in the midst of dominating a large bowl of macaroni and cheese when the phone rang. Thats like asking Evander Holyfield to \ fight Mike Tyson after finishing a three-hour workout. The challenge is enough. Odds don’t need to be stacked against them. But, like a champ, the WebMaster ventured to Jethros to give it a go. And he still complete nearly 3/4 of the beast. This was no ordinary failure. It was a commendable effort and deserves an asterisk for extenuating circumstances.

If It’s A Duel You Want, Then A Duel You Shall Have

1 04 2010

April Fool’s, right? Thats the only explanation. Is this a joke? Did Brent Heemskerk basically just refer to the things I’ve said about him as poppy-cock? Well Mr. Heemskerk, allow me to defend myself.

You, sir, have a presence. Not some of the time. All the time. That presence is undeniable. Yet, it often works in the opponents favor. Of the Sweet Sixteen teams, you played a major role against two prominent big men – Omar Samhan and Matt Howard. In three games trying to overcome your physical and self-described “high-flyer” prowess, the duo combined to score 40 points, grab 26 rebounds, swat 10 shots, and grab 3 steals. Thats an average of 13.3 pts, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 1 steal per game. They were MEN. Look at the stats. MAN. Yes, basketball is a team game. I whole heartedly agreed, but to blame the stripes on your output is less than fair. I am not bashing Brent, folks, I am merely stating facts.

Oh yes baby. Oh yes.

Seriously Brent, for all I know Randy Bennet drew your picture on the dry-erase board during halftime of the St. Mary’s-Baylor game and said, “Picture Epke Udoh as Brent Heemskerk. He won’t seem so intimidating.” He was searching for a way to motivate his star player. You serve as that motivation. Think Jordan or Lebron entering Madison Square Garden. MSG always gets their best efforts. Though you have yet to reach that iconic status, you are MSG. You helped launch the careers of the aforementioned young men.

In your defense, I understand that big-time players bring it against big-time opponents. The initial intimidation of your sculpted figure entering a gym often produced open-mouthed, awed expressions. Like a young Bill Simmons seeing the “purple” Manute Bol enter the old Boston Garden. So, sure, they brought their A-game. I give credit where credit’s due. But as you said my friend “Hips don’t lie. And neither do these numbers.”

In reference to my blogging proficiency, I’ll be the first to admit my subpar performance. As your crossed-out lines referenced, I was trying to take the next step in life. Previously, my blog was about adventures in life overseas. I didn’t find a basketball job this year. It wasn’t until conversations with the WebMaster that we decided to switch to a new format. I’m proud of where this blog’s went. I mean, you read it. That counts for something right?

Now let’s talk about the sandwich. You are correct, sir, I have only consumed the entire sandwich once. After collaborating with Jethros on the concept, I made sure to consume the entire sandwich and side during the maiden feast. That way, challengers like yourself would not be able to conjure up lies and fabrications regarding the massive sandwich that bears my name. Au contraire.

You are also correct about the WebMaster. He is a champion. Each time I am more impressed. He continues to get better and refine his technique. I can only imagine the self-motivation required to continually train and improve when you are the unquestioned world-champion. Like Usain Bolt, he remains largely unchallenged by the rest of the world.

But my friend, you are incorrect in your assumptions. You say I do not like the taste of my sandwich? Spumoni! I do not often order my own sandwich because of sheer size. As I said, I did it once. Like a movie sometimes you have to understand that the original is so great, a sequel will only tarnish its legacy. It is delicious. The flavors complement each other so well I am salivating just thinking about it. But, the sandwich is supposed to be a challenge. I attempted once. I completed once. While the WebMaster is on another universe far far away from us all, you sir do not have the statistical backing to attack me in such a way.

As for the challenge I would gladly accept. I’ve seen what you can do. (Brent once ate four pounds of apple sauce in under half an hour. Seriously, four pounds. More than a toddler. It was astonishing.) Regardless, I am confident. Shall I call up Matt and Omar to ask for tips? Or does your opponent rising to the challenge naturally come with your stated presence?

Jordan conquered MSG. And with your help, I will conquer this challenge. Sometimes, Brent, you can’t stop it. You cannnnnoooooottttt stop it. Next subject.