Locally Grown

Des Moines Vs. Food Television

Last night saw the airing of the Des Moines edition of famed gorge-tastic eating challenge show “Man Vs. Food” on the Travel Channel.  Host Adam Richman visited the High Life Lounge for some Broasted Chicken and Bacon-Wrapped Tots, then traveled to Jethro’s BBQ in Dogtown (that’s the Drake Neighborhood, for those of you not in the know) for a shot at the Famed/Feared 5 pound Adam Emmenecker Sandwich.

This Will Hurt You.

The challenge involves eating over 5lbs of food in 15 minutes or less.  A fools game that has been attempted many times (and from all accounts, a dozen more shots at the title were made during the episode’s showing at Jethro’s last night) but accomplished by only two people.  Two. At the end of the episode we learn that Adam Richman was NOT number three.  Not even close, and there is no shame in his game.  He came, he saw, his eyes bugged out a little, he ate, he did not win.  An admirable effort, but against a too-potent adversary.

We can all rejoice that the Travel Channel has (kind of) finally done right by our fair city, albeit not for its culinary prowess, but for its gluttonous portion-lack-of-control.  I, along with many others, would have liked to seen the Heartland episode of No Reservations air with some DeMo footage, but that was never in the cards according to the producers of said show.  There was also a rumor that the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” was in town to film, but no footage has aired.

What is my point?  My point is a question.  What has DSM been doing to warrant such a reaction from the Filmed Food Press?  Especially in this day and age of “anything food-related can make a television show,” we should be seeing some sort of feedback from the mass media of not only our rising toward culinary glory, but the fact that chefs from around the country have been relocating (or considering relocating) to our area to be in the midst of the farms and fields that produce the fresh, quality ingredients that they crave.  Sure, there are many other cities with great local food scenes, but none of them, in my opinion, come close to having the access to agriculture to which we here in Central Iowa are accustomed.  Maybe the producers of said food shows haven’t found the right chef/kitchen/restaurant to feature, only the right food challenges.  My challenge to the press:  Put us on the map for the food that is happening, not just the portions.

Chew on that for a minute or fifteen.


The Cook.





7 Comments so far
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Well, maybe there’s an adverse connection between our “gluttonous portion lack of control” and the finesse/precision/creativity of our cuisine. When quantity is valued over quality, bi-coastal food scouts aren’t going to pay much attention.

Also, on the chef-driven local food scene, what can you get here that you can’t find at good restaurants in many places? What makes DSM stand out? Lots of cities in the country lie close to agricultural abundance….it’s what chefs do with the goods that makes news.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the food scene here, but I just wonder what you think would be worth the country’s attention, as in, You HAVE to go to Des Moines to eat at __________.

(I have an answer, but you go first.)

Comment by La Bonne Femme

I would argue that Sam’s vegan tacos make the cut. I’m not one who eats them, but I understand certain establishments in this state make a fine pork tenderloin. Would I start a firestorm if I threw Django in this mix, or are there other fairly priced quality French restaurants on the coasts. While I’m at it, add in the best Thai and Vietnamese food I’ve ever had at any number of establishments.

Comment by Jarad

Completely agree that DSM’s Southeast Asian food rivals any city’s. And maybe that would be worth an episode (it’s a good story). But I guess I’m talking about the sort of standout culinary destination restaurant (as in the Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon) that would make the “you’ve just GOT to eat here” list.

Comment by La Bonne Femme

I watched that episode, and was super bummed. There are so many better places to eat in this fine city that the obvious frat boy haunts. On the bright side, at least he didn’t go to the Machine Shed.

Comment by Diane

I am a regular patron of both The High Life Lounge and Jethro’s. I do not eat either of those dishes, though I have had all the components of the “Emmenecker” separately. (Each of the 5 or so sammiches combined there are very large and high quality all on their own.) Also, I have never been in a “Frat” or been referred to as a “Frat Boy”.


Comment by InthewaterDSM

and you haven’t been called a boy? You left that one out.

Comment by locallygrown

[…] Yesterday LG covered the aftermath of what is currently Our Fair City’s “Defining Moment of International Culinary Capacity,” the Adam Emmenecker Sandwich challenge as sort-of-tackled by Travel Channel star and Slop Jockey Adam Richman.  In the end what/who tackled what/who was lost in the fray of yet another ploy to illicit the help of the city’s “Food Press” to further the global acknowledgement of our locavore-istas and the chef-driven local food scene here in Iowa.  We heard from the Food Dude (via my facebook account, you can “friend me” there for more musings.)  regarding his dealings with food television producers, and the Illustrious Datebook Diner, who was as inquisitive as ever.  Let’s see if we can turn back time and find a way to cull forth her comment…(The following is in no way an attack on DD, but since she summed up many good points in her comment, this is happening.) […]

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