Above: Josh Denny inside of Bone Lick BBQ, as seen on “Ginormous Food,” Season Two.
Josh Denny is a stand-up comedian by night and a culinary crusader by day. On his Food Network show Ginormous Food (airing Fridays at 8 p.m.), Denny travels all over the U.S. meeting the people behind some of the biggest monstrosities in the restaurant world. He’s traveled from Atlanta to L.A. to sample these ooey-gooey, cheese-covered behemoths. “Ginormous Food is a combination of everything you love about food shows,” he says. “We travel the country checking out restaurants featuring well known or up-and-coming chefs and their massive dishes that test the limits of their imagination and hunger.”
Denny was gracious enough to answer a few questions for Crave Online about the show, where he’s traveled, and some of his favorite meals along the way.
Crave: What is your food background? How did you end up hosting this show?
Josh Denny: I’ve been a food fan my whole life, and come from a food-centric family. Comedy and food were always big parts of my best family memories growing up so it was a natural fit. I started hosting a food/comedy podcast a couple of years ago, and that was how I landed on the Food Network radar.
What cities did you visit and how were they chosen?
Our pilot was filmed in San Antonio, and in Season One we visited Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, Nashville, Louisville, and Cincinnati. This season we’ve hit 13 more cities. We have a great scouting department inside our production company that sources our restaurants. We generally start with the most talked about via social media and then move on from there trying to find ones with unique dishes and personalities.
How did you prepare for this show?
I didn’t really know what to expect in preparing for Ginormous Food, but after our first block of filming it was obvious that I needed to focus more on my diet and exercise programs when not filming. Even though we’re not an eating challenge show, we still consume a ton of delicious guilty pleasure food. I’m a real fan, so it’s hard to say no when our chefs and owners are so welcoming and generous. I try to do at least an hour of exercise every day when on the road, and when home I do a ketogenic cleanse for a few weeks after filming, along with eight hours of workouts each week.
What makes a dish “ginormous”?
It can actually be a number of things. Generally it starts with size, but we’re looking for cohesive dishes. Sometimes it could be a buffet on a plate, or a giant sandwich that’s a combination of three different sandwiches. We’re really looking for food with personality to match the great chefs and owners that we meet along the way.
What was your favorite stop along the way?
My favorite restaurant overall, and this could be sentimental because it was the very first one we filmed at in Season One, was Spread Bagelry. Everything we had there was amazing; the Classic Whale is still one of the most unique, creative, and impressive dishes we covered, and the owner Larry is just an amazingly good guy. Plus it’s in my hometown of Philadelphia, so I’ve got to make the homer pick here.
What was your favorite dish along the way?
My favorite ginormous food on the show so far has been the Battle Royale from Pepperfire Hot Chicken in Nashville, Tennessee. Isaac Beard is obsessed with serving the perfect hot chicken and he has the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. The crew and I still crave it months after having it. The Battle Royale is his signature hot chicken served over four deep-fried grilled cheese sandwiches and topped with apple pie filling. It sounds strange, but it’s magnificent.
What kinds of ginormous foods are you seeing around the country?
I’ve really been surprised with how fresh our team has kept it, working alongside our chefs. Naturally, you’ll find dozens of big burgers and pizzas, but we’ve found some really cool stuff too. The Whale Bagel in Philly, The Seafood UFO from Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Baltimore, Giant Sushi from Shinto Japanese Steakhouse in Strongsville, and the Strawberry Skyscraper from LAVO in Las Vegas are just some that immediately come to mind. Every time we think we’ve seen it all, a new chef just knocks us off our feet.
What’s the strangest thing you encountered on the road?
The strangest thing we’ve seen on the road, and perhaps the funniest, was this billboard in Tucson for getting your pets spayed and neutered. It was just a cat holding a pregnancy test and a caption that said “Not again!” I know it’s silly and dumb, but we probably laughed for two hours in the car.
Do you get indigestion?
Almost everyone on both sides of my family has struggled with some kind of digestive issues in their life, so I’ve always gone out of my way to be educated on how to best aid proper digestion and keep the gut healthy. I feel like I’m well tuned in to my body, and I know when I need to shift gears and balance out my diet. I take Total Gut Health to aid in digestion on filming days, and generally drink vegetable and fruit smoothies each morning to ensure I’m getting some natural nutrition as well.
Is there anything else our readers would want to know?
In this day and age a lot of people assume we are an eating competition show, which couldn’t be further from the truth. We love showcasing these ginormous foods, but we also love being able to show the great chefs’ behind them and their passion for their creations, along with their businesses, and customers. In most locations we have visited the dishes are actually a part of the community, and Ginormous Food gives you a look at food through the perspective of a true food lover.