A passion for food has been a staple of Josh Denny’s stand-up act since he broke into comedy 10 years ago. Now, the Philadelphia native is taking his taste buds on tour, seeking out America’s most imaginative, most inspired, and most ginormous culinary creations.
Denny is the host of “Ginormous Food,” The Food Network’s newest attempt to showcase the biggest and tastiest foods in America. For an epicure like Denny, “Ginormous Food” is a dream gig. “Almost every city has a crazy burger or a ginormous pizza. As we got into the show, we really tried to find things that were a little more creative,” Denny said in an interview with The Interrobang. “For me, I’m looking for things that make me want to travel to try it, even if I didn’t have a TV show. That’s what we’re in pursuit of.”
One of those creative dishes that caught Denny’s attention was “The Battle Royale,” a dish developed at Pepperfire Hot Chicken in Nashville. “It’s deep-fried grilled cheese, hot chicken, and apple pie topping,” Denny said. “It’s something you would look at and think that it’s just ridiculous, that those things just don’t go together. But then you taste it and – ohmigod, it’s amazing. That’s what our show is about. We’re trying to find things that haven’t been done to death.” Another dish featured was “The Whale,” a 14-pound(!) bagel sandwich topped with fish salad, buttery lox, and tomatoes, served at Spread Bagelry in Philadelphia.
Unlike “Man V. Food,” “Ginormous Food” doesn’t feature eating competitions or challenges. Instead, Denny acts as a stand-in for the viewer, visiting locations, sampling food, and focusing the attention on the restaurateurs and chefs behind the ginormous creations. “I think we get a little bit more into detail with the cooking, as opposed to other shows,” Denny said. “We do a good job of showing the personalities of these chefs and the communities inside these restaurants and telling their stories. It’s kind of a cool thing to be able to go around the country and meet these business owners and entrepreneurs who have resorted to creating these ginormous foods to grow their business and become more popular in their neighborhoods.”
“We don’t just show the food, but also tell the story of the restaurant and the personalities of the chefs, and how that plays into the food,” he said. “There’s so much thought, so much culinary creativity and finesse that goes on with the way these things are concocted by the chefs. Not only is everything impressive in sheer size, but the creativity and the flavors and everything that was packed in there worked very well. Every episode was a new adventure.”
“Ginormous Food” debuted on The Food Network January 6th. It took 13 months to develop the show prior to that first air date, Denny said. His background as a comedian allows him to bring the best out of the chefs, restaurant owners, and patrons featured, creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere that he hopes comes through to viewers at home. “It’s a very intimate experience when people are eating in front of other people, let alone a camera crew,” Denny said. “It’s ripe with opportunities to poke fun of people a little and get them to let their hair down for a little bit and have fun with the moment, even if they’re shoving a two-foot sandwich in their face.”
Naturally, weight gain is one of the risks of a job entailing travel and sampling heaping piles of food. Though he admits to carrying a few extra pounds on his frame, Denny said staying fit is extremely important to him.
“I’ve been a fan of food long enough to know that you have to balance that with a good workout schedule,” he said, noting he usually hits the gym 3-5 days a week when he isn’t traveling or shooting the show. “I wouldn’t say I’m at the Chris Farley level of athleticism, but I think people would be surprised if they looked under the hood and saw how healthy I am.”
“Ginormous Food” airs on The Food Network at 8 p.m. EST on Fridays. For more information, visit foodnetwork.com.