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Food Has an Imposing Competitor in ‘Man v. Food’ Host

Casey Webb, host of the rebooted Man v. Food on Travel Channel, is well qualified to host the show. After all, he’s been working in the restaurant business for much of his life, including stints as a cook and a general manager. Webb’s first job was washing dishes at a Jersey Shore pizzeria. More recently—just a few months back, in fact—he was bartending in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where his friends own a place called The Whiskey Annex.

Webb’s entertainment work includes standup, voice overs, theater and roles in Inside Amy Schumer and Boardwalk Empire.

Man v. Food, which had aired for four seasons on Travel Channel starting in 2008, with Adam Richman hosting, debuts on Travel Channel Aug. 7. There are 10 episodes, with Webb traveling the country in search of intriguing cuisine offerings, and tackling the eating (or drinking) challenge set forth at the restaurants.

“I’m up for the challenge,” says the affable host. “I came out swinging.”

Webb mentions he played football in college, at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, but “wanted to do something with my noggin, rather than running people over.” So he started in theater. That brought him to New York, where his stage work included a stint with the Upright Citizens Brigade.

All the while, Webb worked in restaurants, including time at upscale collective B.R. Guest, which owns a bunch of popular upscale joints in New York, including Mexican restaurant Dos Caminos. That background gives him an instant rapport with cooks and restaurateurs. “Cooking shouldn’t be a scary thing,” he says. “It should be an enjoyable thing.”

The premiere episode of Man v. Food sees Webb venture to Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn, where he tried a pizza with a cut-up pizza on top that comes in a pizza box that’s made out of, yes, pizza. “A pizza dough box—a party for sure,” says Webb.

He also got to make pizzas there, which was a thrill for a guy once relegated to washing a pizza place’s dishes. “I was finally legitimized, making pizza at Vinnie’s,” he says.

Premiere night also sees Webb head to Staten Island, where he has the choice of a 151-ounce milkshake, an eight-pound sloppy joe or six habanero ghost chili wings that pack one million units of heat on the Scoville scale, which measures the heat of chili peppers.

Webb’s first-season trips also see him in Chicago, Charleston, New Orleans and Portland, Oregon. The show’s stories are about the locale almost as much as they’re about the food. “The most impactful thing was traveling and meeting people along the way,” he says. “I’m meeting people who create beautiful food in their city. It’s so tremendous.”

His TV tastes include HBO’s Game of Thrones, Netflix’s Ozark, and lots of food shows. “I spend a lot of time on Travel Channel, I’m not gonna lie,” Webb says.

That includes Bizarre FoodsWith Andrew Zimmern. “He circumnavigates the world, eating the craziest things,” says Webb. “Now I’m in a similar position.”

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.