Man Vs. Food is a televised impending heart attack. Adam Richman – the programme’s host – tackled the biggest eating challenges in America, ranging from devouring over 400 oysters to working through a seven pound burrito. Although he did appear to hold the best job that has ever existed, he’s now retired from the challenges – which will have certainly come as a relief to his doctor. As a result of the show’s success, eating challenges are rapidly gaining popularity in the UK, and you can go up against a culinary Mount Everest in numerous locations.
Wall of Flames Challenge – Rib Shakk, Leeds
The Wall of Flames Challenge is all about the spice. It’s just a plate of ribs, in essence, except that it’s bathed in a fiery sauce which will have you begging for soothing milk. The Scoville scale is used to measure spiciness: a jalapeño pepper is between 2,500 and 8,000 Scovilles, a scotch bonnet is between 100,000 and 350,000 and the infamous ghost chilli is between 855,000 and 1,050,000. The sauce you’d be facing is estimated to be up to one million Scovilles. If you succeed, your food and drink is free and you get your picture on the Wall of Flame. If you can’t take the heat, it’s £16.
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The Steak Challenge – The Green Man, Newmarket
If you like steak but a 12oz rump is an insult to your appetite, you should take on the Steak Challenge at the Green Man. It consists of a 72oz steak with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and chips on the side. Finish the mammoth platter within an hour and you don’t have to pay a thing. However, if the hunk of beef is too much for you, it’s £60 for the meal.
Kismot Killer –Kismot, Edinburgh
Another spicy challenge comes in the form of a curry, known only as the Kismot Killer. Its name is well-deserved, because the sauce uses the five hottest chilli peppers in the world and it’s amongst the hottest curries you’ll ever encounter. All you have to do is finish it and it’s completely free. One ex-contender commented that it felt like “being chainsawed in the stomach with hot sauce on the chainsaw.” Victory means a certificate and a place on the Wall of Fame, failure relegates you to the Wall of Shame. The restaurant has a helpful, if disconcerting tip for those intending to try it: put your toilet roll in the freezer as soon as you get home.
The Fallout “Pizza-Burger” Challenge – Atomic Burger, Oxford/Bristol
Atomic Burger’s Fallout Challenge is all about taking the heat. It’s a triple-stacked burger covered in sauce made using the ghost chilli and encased in deep fried double cheese and tomato “pizza” buns. In other words, its fat covered in searing heat and surrounded by more fat, with a side of chilli fries. Also, you have to wear protective gloves when you’re eating it. Yes, it’s that hot. It costs £25, and you get a T-shirt for your troubles and a possible place on the Top 100 Wall of Fame.
The Beast – Burgers at Blacks, Croydon
This is Europe's largest burger. It’s an eating challenge, but the task seems truly insurmountable. The burger weighs seven pounds and it comes in a six pound bap, with nine rashers of bacon and nine slices of mature cheese on top, along with lettuce and tomatoes. That is enough food to stuff a family of four to the point of bursting, but it isn’t over yet. You also get a pound of chips and a milkshake, and you have to finish everything in under an hour. If you somehow succeed, you get an “I conquered the Beast” T-shirt, a spot on the hall of fame and the meal for free. If you fail, as most people clearly will, it costs you £50, and you’re placed on the Wall of Shame.
Kidz Breakfast – Jesters Diner, Great Yarmouth
The “Kidz Breakfast” is a misleading name. It seems to imply a children’s meal, but it actually means that it is a meal comparable in weight to a small child. Coming in at nine pounds, the two and a half foot square plate contains a dozen rashers of bacon, a dozen sausages, six eggs, two hash browns, four pieces of black pudding, four slices of toast, four slices of fried bread and four pieces of buttered bread. In case that wasn’t enough, there are also sautéed potatoes, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes to pad it out. If you eat it in an hour, it’s free, if not, it’s £15. The menu helpfully points out that you’ll leave half a stone heavier.
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The 69oz Challenge Mixed Grill – Sizzle and Grill Steak House, Cardiff
The huge 69oz Challenge Mixed Grill is a must for meat-loving food challengers. You get two gammon steaks, three pork chops, two lamb chops, half a chicken and two eggs, with mushrooms, peas, side salad and chips on the side. You have an hour to finish it, and if you succeed you get a T shirt and a photo up on the challenge wall. For winners, the meal is free, for losers it’s £29.95.
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