When it came to bacon and bacon culture on the Internet, the whole thing seemed painfully played out. Like so much “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”, anything bacon-related was slapped on T-shirts in a variety of cringe-inducing clichés. Slogans cooked up by executives at Target and Wal-Mart proclaimed “Bacon Makes Everything Better” and “You Had Me At Bacon.” It all stunk of corporate hijacking – thus the inevitable bacon decline began.
Then, like drunken bats out of hell came Epic Meal Time in all of their whiskey-swigging, artery-clogging glory. These were dudes not only interested in bacon culture, but also unapologetically consumed by it. The success of their YouTube channel Epic Meal Time hit like a greasy calorie-stuffed flashflood, restoring the Internet’s faith in pork and pork-related products.
The Epic Meal Time channel has been one of YouTube’s biggest breakout successes, spawning a loyal and very hungry following along with a brand new bacon-fueled YouTube cooking competition – “Epic Chef.”
We headed to the dreaded land of Los Angeles to hang out with the Montreal natives on the set of “Epic Chef” to find out once and for all if their collective bacon fetish is the real deal.
Standing outside the theater-turned-film set, Epic Meal Time chef Ameer Atari explains how guest chefs will create the meaty monstrosities that will be judged on “Epic Chef.” “We are picking the ingredients, mystery ingredients, and each chef competes against each other to make the most epic creation they can, using those ingredients.”
David Heuff, who typically films Epic Meal Time, tells me what his plans are now that digital studio The Collective’s multi-cam set up has rendered him useless on the “Epic Chef” set: “I just sit around, get drunk, and watch them make a show.”
Appearing suddenly from an unseen back room, Epic Meal Time mastermind and “Epic Chef” host Harley Morenstein staggers into our conversation and announces his role on the new show saying, “I drink and yell.” Morenstein pauses for a beat and continues: “I also taste. I’m not much of a judge. I like leaving judging to our guest judges so they can show their shitty personalities or good personalities, depending on who it is.” I ask him if any of the judges that filmed today had a shitty personality, and he fires back, “No, I’m just saying, because I don’t know who else might be on this.”
With the entire Epic Meal Time crew standing outside with me, I know it’s time to find out if all this bacon worship and give-no-fucks attitude is genuine or not. “Would you rather be blind or vegetarian?” I ask Morenstein. “I’d probably keep my vision — the vegetarian route, you know? And just know that I have nothing to lose in life and really do whatever the fuck I want,” Morenstein answers. Okay, one for one.
“Anything you wouldn’t eat?” I ask, and Morenstein answers without hesitation, “No dogs, no dolphins. Cats, babies, horses … we’ve eaten horses.” Seems legit. “What about camels?” I ask. “Whatever you want, man,” Morenstein answers, annoyed with this line of questioning. I switch gears.
Knowing their proclivity towards pork, I ask, “If pigs became extinct, what would you do?” The group eagerly explains that turkey bacon would do just fine. Morenstein explains the group’s enthusiasm: “There is a lot of turkey bacon hate because we have pork bacon. But if that pork bacon doesn’t exist, people are eager to have turkey bacon, I’m sure of it. Any bacon is better than no bacon,” Morenstein says with so much sincerity that I can’t help but see his bacon fanaticism as completely sincere.
Satisfied with the authenticity of Epic Meal Time’s general love for staggering amounts of meat, I can finally get down to business and talk to Morenstein about his channel’s strategy. I want to hear from the man behind the beard, the brilliant businessman responsible for one of YouTube’s fastest growing channels. “You created Epic Meal Time and now ‘Epic Chef,’ What is next on the to-do list?” I ask. Morenstein pauses, and explains in all sincerity: “The to-do list for me is to finger blast a nice little lady.” And with that, he walks back inside. Just like that he is gone, off to cover something or someone in bacon.
“Epic Chef” is premiering later this month on the Epic Meal Time YouTube channel. In the meantime, you can check out our behind-the-scenes video shoot on the set of “Epic Chef” where Epic Meal Time’s Tyler Lemco explains the ins and outs of the YouTube cooking challenge.