If you’re about ready to tell the world where it can shove its quinoa, then hold up. Here’s your ultimate guide to throwing a big, greasy eating challenge.
Since US TV presenter Adam Richman began his epic tour around America’s most heart attack-inducing food challenges in 2008, the Man v Food craze has started to catch on here in the UK.
While pub food is winning awards left, right and centre, some of it is winning just for being huge. So how does it turn a profit?
1. Pick the right dish to make the best GP
Phil Kiernan, landlord of the the Farmers Boy Inn in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, has promoted his “Big Ugly” food challenges since 2015.
“We found the burger was the best,” he explains.
The Big Ugly Burger is a 12-inch 100 per cent prime British beef burger in a 12-inch bap, is custom made for the pub by a local bakery.
“Usually the burgers are up high and it’s a mess. We decided we had to get one bap big enough to fit a giant burger in so it’s proper Man v Food.
“It’s really important the food is good quality and it’s also got to make us a profit.
“The whole burger costs us £14 including staff to serve and cook it. We stopped the steak challenge as we weren’t making that much gross profit, but with the burger, we can make the GP on it,” he explains.
2. Make an event out of it
At the Farmers Boy Inn, Customers pay £28 and have 30 minutes to eat it on a monthly special challenge night, which usually sells out in advance.
3. Keep participant data on file for remarketing
Phil says: “Anyone who takes part has to give us their email. We want to know who is taking part so we can target them in future marketing. There’s a whole process to it.”
4. Make sure the food tastes good
Kate Ovens (pictured in headline) is a professional eating challenger, and tours the country taking part in some of the most ludicrous contests to make videos for TheLADBible website, with an impressive 27,000 Instagram followers to cheer her on.
She explains: “The challenge should make people want to go back and try the rest of the menu.
“In America there are often cash prizes for winners, but over here you usually get the meal for free, a t-shirt or vouchers to come back to the restaurant and I think that’s enough.”
5. Encourage customers to share on social media
Perhaps one of the longest-running eating challenges can be found at Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory pub in Tipton, West Midlands.
The pub has been making its Desperate Dan's Cow Pie for over 21 years.
Chef Simran Jassal says: “60 per cent of the pies we do over the weekend are the Cow Pie. People love the challenge and the fact they get a certificate for it.
“It works well because they’ll share their picture and award on social media and knowledge about the pub spreads.”
6. Don’t make it too hard
The George Pub & Grill in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham has made a name for itself by offering seven stomach-stretching challenge dishes on the menu.
“I try and put a realistic time scale next to the challenge because I want some people to win it and spread the word. It’s great marketing,” explains Craig Harker, owner of the pub.
You might be thinking that quinoa doesn’t sound so bad now, but clearly a gross idea for some is gross profit for others.