Watching Epic Meal Time’s new cooking competition show is a bit like seeing a nerdy kid getting picked on by a bunch of meatheads on the playground. You laugh a little at first. And then you feel bad. And then you laugh again. And then you start to question your humanity.
It’s Chopped meets Hell’s Kitchen meets Jackass, with just a little bit of Man vs. Food thrown in. Or in this case, Judges vs. Everyone.
More than anything, “Epic Chef” comes across as EMT’s jab at what has now become the procedural cooking competition. You know, with the time limits and the surprise secret ingredients and the celebrity guest judges and the cooking. All of which Epic Chef has, of course—come on, they’re not barbarians—only this time around, they’ve been “epic-ized.” Which is to say the required ingredients are bacon and alcohol, the celebrity guest judges are comedian Destorm Powers and Duff from Charm City Cakes and every so often, everyone needs to stop cooking and take a shot.
After all, as host Harley so kindly explains after promising to beat the sh*t out of Duff, “This isn’t a kitchen, this is an internet show.”
In its first episode, which premiered Friday, competing chefs Ilan Hall (Top Chef season 2 champ) and David Alvarez (“celebrity chef”) face the challenge of creating an Epic Breakfast using bacon, rum, various breakfast meats, mac and cheese, jalapenos, baked beans, “sushi-grade lard,” and whatever else they can find in the kitchen. The results themselves fall flatter than flat and include a plate of deep fried jalapenos garnished with cucumber! of all things, courtesy Alvarez, as well as a tray of cinnamon rolls around 2:57 which are strangely never mentioned again.
Even Hall, with his Rivers Cuomo looks and Foie Gras Black Flag t-shirt, whips up a “Business Breakfast Poutine” served in a briefcase, which nevertheless strikes judge Duff as too “easy” and safe.
Throughout the show’s ten minute duration, it’s hard not to wish the EMT guys were the ones actually competing against each other instead of these goofballs, just to bring back some of the OMG NOMS which has made Epic Meal Time, Epic Meal Time since the show started back in 2010. Where are the Breakfast Lasagnas, you can’t help but wonder. Where’s the Meat Cereal and the Breakfast Egg Roll?
Instead, Harley’s quips and jabs at the chefs, and the rest of the judge’s jabs at each other, are all that carries the show. At one point, clearly drunk off their asses, they decide to show the audience what life would look like as a nacho, taking the camera and dunking in it a bag of chips and a pot of melted cheese. Which, if you’re a fan of EMT’s humor, is obviously pretty piss-pants hilarious. But unfortunately that’s all it really is.
In the end, Epic Chef is a cooking show for fans of EMT and fans of EMT only. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It never really promised to be anything else. But by the time the show ends, I’m not really mad at anybody. I’m not super hungry. I’m not even disgusted with myself for becoming super hungry.
But what else I expected from an Epic Meal Time cooking competition beyond that, I’m not really sure.