It’s downright fitting that the first episode of the resuscitated Travel Channel show Man v. Food – scheduled to air Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. – features a gut-busting visit to Milwaukee. Absolutely fitting. The show, which ran for four years (2008-2012), features a gung-ho host who attempts to master a particularly menacing food challenge offered up in a specific U.S. city.
In its original incarnation, the host was actor Adam Richman. In the reboot, he’s replaced by comedian Casey Webb. (Citing health issues and a suffering love life, Richman pulled out of the series.) Last spring, Webb and his crew visited three Milwaukee landmarks – Sobelman’s Pub & Grill (1900 W. St. Paul Ave.), Jake’s Deli (1634 W. North Ave.) and Mader’s (1041 N. Old World Third St.) – and was greeted with challenges that would certainly flat-line the average person. The restaurants’ challenge is to offer a food creation that Webb won’t be able to finish.
Of the Sobelman’s Chicken Fried Bloody Beast prepared for this episode, Dave Sobelman was understandably tight-lipped but did reveal that he didn’t get his “a-s kicked like on ‘Food Wars’.” The “kicking” he refers to is his ill-fated 2010 burger battle against AJ Bombers on the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars.”
The Bloody Beast is whole nother animal – a pitcher-sized bloody mary topped with accouterments like bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheese balls and a whole fried chicken. When the drink was introduced in 2014, it garnered national attention, including a piece in Huffington Post.
At Jake’s Deli, Webb was treated to the Commish Challenge, which is perhaps the biggest corned beef and pastrami sandwich you’ve ever seen.
It starts with a loaf of rye bread. Besides a veritable mountain of meat, it’s filled with Swiss cheese, jalapenos and sauerkraut, sauce and then crowned with an entire pickle. Weighing a little under five pounds, the sandwich is a challenge that any Jake’s customer can face.
If he or she finishes the Commish in 45 minutes, the $75 cost is waived, plus Jake’s throws in a pair of Milwaukee Brewers baseball tickets and gives the winning challenger street cred on the wall of the restaurant. So far, three people have conquered the Commish – that’s not including the Man v. Food host, should he be victorious…
This all makes the Mader’s challenge – a tray of sausages, a traditional pork shank and a German beer served in a boot – sound almost pedestrian by comparison. Or not.
Find out if the Milwaukee businesses prevail on Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. on the Travel Channel.