If you were wondering how Epic Chef, Epic Meal Time‘s take on food competition shows, might compare to, say, Bravo’s Top Chef, host Harley Morenstein is quick to inform you in the first episode. “Top Chef winner?” he shouts at Top Chef season two champion Ilan Hall. “That doesn’t mean sh– here.”
The web series Epic Chef, which launched this Friday, is full of shouting, and bacon, and whiskey shots, and everything else that comes with Epic Meal Time‘s reputation as a bro-friendly alternative to the Food Network.
Epic Meal Time originated as a bunch of bored Canadians trying to replicate the most over-the-top meals they could — since then, it has grown into a massive online phenomenon, a celebration of gluttony that’s become one of YouTube’s more iconic series.
And Epic Chef should feel very familiar to Epic Meal Time fans: Excess is the name of the game, as competing chefs are judged by food and online personalities like Ace of Cakes‘s Duff Goldman, Freddie Wong, iJustine and Mystery Guitar Man on challenges bringing together meat, gravy, booze, deep-frying, and more meat.
According to Dan Weinstein of the Collective Digital Studio, which produced the series with the Epic Meal Time team, Epic Chef aims to appeal to the core demo of Epic Meal Time — men aged 17-34 — while also extending its reach.
“It’s the first of many projects designed to broaden the audience, extend the reach of the brand and continue to iterate on the content. It’s their first foray into longer form episodes and expanding their world of collaborators,” Weinstein said via email.
While the budget for Epic Chef exceeded that of typical Epic Meal Time episodes — “we were on location, had many more set pieces and participants and an expanded format,” Weinstein said — the first episode, “Breakfast Challenge,” has racked up almost 375,000 views in just one day. It probably helps that Epic Chef is being posted to Epic Meal Time‘s primary YouTube channel, which has 2.9 million subscribers.
What’s interesting about Epic Chef is this: It’s rare when a spin-off manages to take a show’s modus operandi (in Epic Meal Time‘s case, “when in doubt, add bacon — heaps and heaps of bacon”) and apply it to a different format and structure.
But perhaps because of the common language of food, and the pre-established traditions of food competition TV shows, Epic Chef easily replicates Epic Meal Time‘s established values while also incorporating new personalities and a new sense of drama. It’s a case study worth checking out, even for the vegetarians in the crowd.