By Kelly Etz, Daily Arts Writer
Published March 13, 2013
You’ve probably assumed, while microwaving that third grilled cheese at 4 a.m., that there has to be something better in the world of late-night eatin’.
Feed the Beast
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Travel Channel to the rescue. “Feed the Beast,” a new six-part series, chronicles food “enthusiast” Mikey Roe’s city-hopping quest to find the holy grail of early morning eateries.
The premiere, which features San Francisco’s gastronomic footprint, finds Roe chatting with the culinary minds behind a top-secret burrito in Fisherman’s Wharf. The supersized, super-stuffed Mexican classic looks deliciously unhealthy, but the whole “insider” aspect of the off-menu order is lost the second it’s revealed, turning a previously underground option back into a plain ’ole burrito just in time for midnight. The rest of the episode has Roe filling up on deep-fried peanut butter and jelly, fresh ginger crab and hanging with drag queens over Portuguese sausage.
Getting up close and personal with chefs, restaurant owners and local food columnists, Roe looks like he’s having a blast. But watching Roe chow his way through a smorgasbord of stomach-splitting comfort food? Not so much.
It would’ve been more fun if Travel had extended the series, with Roe diving into a more diverse range of cities, instead of hitting the big-time basics like NYC, Seattle and Chicago. Why not get a little grittier and let viewers in on the best-kept (and most appetizing) secrets of Providence, R.I., Chattanooga, Tenn. or hell, even Ann Arbor? Roe getting down and greasy with the locals is one of the best parts of the show, but it would be more exciting if these were actually hidden-gem-type places, instead of leaving half the audience moaning “been there, ate that.”
The travel aspect is practically nonexistent, making “Feed the Beast” more like what Food Network airs when it’s not airing “Chopped,” a show about food you’ll never make from a city you’ve probably already seen. Unless the next time you mosey over to San Fran you’ll be consulting the list you hastily scrawled during Roe’s endless chomping, the series is pretty much useless except as a way for the Travel Channel to work in more foodie-friendly programming sans Anthony Bourdain.
The 9 p.m. timeslot seems like a mistake, especially for a series that claims to know the best “late-night” eats. It would fit better, and will probably end up, in the dead zone of 3 a.m. television, as a substitute for all those OxiClean infomercials. At least in the early hours of the morning it’s easier to justify watching a show about late-night eating, instead of actually having to haul ass off the futon to hit the Taco Bell drive-thru.
Even so, this isn’t the worst thing you’ll ever see. An adequate alternative if you’ve already noshed your way through every episode of “Top Chef” ever made, “Feed the Beast” won’t cure the hangover-induced hunger pains, but it might distract you from throwing up for a while. What else can Travel expect after scraping the bottom of the bland barrel?