Restaurant News

Man v. Food Nation Visits Big Earl's BBQ in Scottsdale: Chef James Porter Says Adam Richman Is "Juilliard School Meets Rachael Ray Meets Anthony Bourdain"

Big Earl's BBQ got some mad TV love this weekend when Adam Richman and his 16-person crew of Travel Channel's Man v. Food Nation, (the evolution of Man v. Food, in which Richman recruits locals to take on food challenges instead of doing them himself) paid a visit to the Old Town Scottsdale 'cue house.

"They started at 10 a.m. on Friday and finished at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning," says Big Earl's chef and owner James Porter, who also heads up Petite Maison, a French restaurant in Old Town.

Porter tells me the Travel Channel called about a month and a half ago telling him they had heard good things about his restaurant and were interested in doing a segment for the show featuring the restaurant's "Feast Leg of Beast Challenge," a six-person-team eating challenge involving consuming around 30 pounds of food including a bone-in pork butt, mac and cheese, potato salad, corn bread, and an entire pecan pie in 17 minutes. (Chow Bella writer Zachary Fowle and team took the challenge in May.)

Wendy Porter, PR gal and wife of James Porter, recruited three firemen and three policemen from the City of Scottsdale to take the Big Earl's BBQ Feast Leg of Beast challenge for the show.

So how did Adam Richman and James Porter hit it off?

"First, we had to smell each other out," he says.

After the initial meeting, Porter tells me, "There was a lot of good mojo there. He's [Richman] extremely educated and articulated. He's like the Juilliard School meets Rachael Ray meets Anthony Bourdain."

Porter says Richman, who's also the show's producer, spent six hours of the taping in the kitchen with him going through each of the challenge's dishes, then moved out into the restaurant for some guest interaction and, of course, the challenge itself.

"He [Richman] was impressed with a lot of the side dishes," Porter says. "He liked our Southwestern take on the corn bread [made with jalapeños, bacon, and chipotle honey Bbutter] and the mac and cheese."

So how did Scottsdale's finest do? The results can't be revealed, but you can see for yourself when Travel Channel's Man v. Food Nation featuring Big Earl's BBQ airs in November. Stay tuned for details.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld