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YouTube's "Epic Chef" offers gluttony to the masses

By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bacon, whiskey and stilettos - this is not your mother's kitchen. This is "Epic Chef," YouTube's 20,000-calorie cooking spectacle that makes its debut on Friday.

"The show is complete madness," producer Rob Czar told Reuters on a recent set visit in Los Angeles, where two scantily-clad women in heels hurled greasy bacon and corn dogs at each other during a taping.

"There are no rules other than the usage of bacon and Jack Daniels," Czar said. "Pandemonium is encouraged."

"Epic Chef," an offshoot of the Canadian-produced YouTube sensation "Epic Meal Time" series, aims to bring in viewers by the million with extra helpings of gluttony - all in spite of Americans' obsession with health and weight loss.

"We're here to say pizza is good, cheeseburgers are good, but pizza-cheeseburgers are even better," said host Harley Morenstein, a former substitute teacher whose "Epic Meal Time" garners some three million views per weekly episode on YouTube.

"We do this so that you don't have to," writer Tyler Lemco added. "You can watch us and live vicariously through us."

LUCKY TO HAVE A CAMERA

"Epic Chef" pits contestants against each other to prepare outrageous heart-attack-inducing meat-laden dishes with massive calorie, fat and cholesterol content all in the name of impressing a panel of judges.

The winner is determined by taste, presentation and use of ingredients.

Chefs include the likes of Ilan Hall, a past winner of Bravo's hit "Top Chef," while well-known kitchen personality Duff Goldman (Food Network's "Ace of Cakes") and writer Timothy Ferriss ("The 4-hour Chef") serve as judges.

The idea for the shows came to Morenstein two years ago after seeing a photo of an over-the-top meal online and later trying to replicate it with friends, Lemco said.

"We were bored and had nothing else to do," the writer added. "Luckily we had a camera."

In one upcoming episode, tentatively titled "Epic Chicken Challenge," the meals prepared include fried chicken wrapped in bacon and stuffed with Cheetos, Doritos chips and corn-dog hash.

The final product emerges as fried chicken encrusted with the snack food, wrapped in bacon and smothered in barbecue sauce. Other dishes include gingerbread houses made of meat, human head-sized egg rolls and meat breakfast cereal with gravy.

"We're going to die doing this," Lemco said. "That's how dedicated we are."

(Reporting by Dana Feldman, Editing by Eric Kelsey and Alden Bentley)

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