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'Man v. Food': Fiery fight to the finish-San Antonio edition

Web Posted: 06/04/2009 12:00 CDT
'Man v. Food': Fiery fight to the finish
By Hector Saldaña - Express-News

LISA KRANTZ/[email protected]
Adam Richman reacts as Rene Vega rests his head after throwing up with only a few more bites of the burger made with grilled jalapenos, serrano peppers, ghost chiles and jalapeno jack cheese with a dousing of habanero sauce.
Chunky's super spicy hamburger is called the Four Horsemen.

For Travel Channel's “Man v. Food” star Adam Richman, it was nearly the apocalypse.

The popular cable television series, featuring everyman Richman signing up for outrageous food challenges at restaurants around the country, was in San Antonio this week to sample the cinnamon buns at Lulu's Bakery & Café, to try the pizza at Big Lou's Pizza and, on Wednesday, to take on the burger from hell at Chunky's Burgers.

“Only three people have finished it,” Joey Prado, owner of the Callaghan Road restaurant, said of the half-pound burger made with grilled jalapeños, serrano peppers, ghost chiles (the dreaded Naga Jolokia) and jalapeño jack cheese, plus a dousing of habanero sauce.

“When you eat it, you think it's the apocalypse, the end of the world.”

But in Richman's world, food is gladiator sport.

Self-described Adam-maniacs Nichole Rodriguez, Santiago Espinoza, Cecilia Avila, Michael Castillo and Russell Lopez drove across town to see the star.

“We actually do food challenges of our own at work,” Rodriguez said. “It's kinda sad.”

“We want to be his food groupies,” Avila said.

For his part, Richman made like a stand-up comedian and cheerleader as he visited with dozens of fans. It was his first trip to San Antonio. “I'm completely blown away,” said Richman, 35.

As the moment of truth approached — there's a 25-minute limit to eat the Four Horsemen and a five-minute “no drink” rule afterward — he didn't look too sure.

Richman sat alongside tearful customer Rene Vega, who tried the challenge and got within two bites of finishing before upchucking.

“I'm a little freaked out,” Richman said.

As cook Arturo Estevez prepared Richman's burger, fellow cook Ben Aguirre just shook his head. “It's hotter than magma,” Aguirre said.

Richman asked for rubber gloves and a knife to quarter his burger.

He looked miserable as he attacked it methodically, sweating profusely, with his eyes watering, nose dripping and lips on fire.

“My lips are swollen,” screamed Richman as fans cheered him on. Eventually, he raised his arms in triumph.

Lisa Krantz/Express-News
Adam Richman flips over his table after eating the burger and successfully completing his food challenge.

Afterward, Richman said he doesn't eat like this off camera and that he exercises daily, gets medical checkups and uses nutritional supplements.

“I don't espouse eating like this on a regular basis,” he said. “It's foolhardy and irresponsible to eat like this. On non-challenge days, I eat conservatively. I have to. This was one of the hottest challenges in the United States.”

Producer Dan Kornfeld said the San Antonio segment should be among the first of the show's second season and will likely air in August or September.

'Man v. Food': Fiery fight to the finish
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