Epic Meal Time Is Your Eater of the Year

Technically, there are 12 hours left in the year and anything can still happen. But with the majority of the votes in, it looks like Epic Meal Time is moving towards a strong victory in our fifth annual Eater of the Year poll.

To celebrate, let’s watch the EMT crew make waffle fries…but of course, these are not your average waffle fries.

Congratulations to Epic Meal Time and to all of our very distinguished Eater of the Year nominees.

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Who is the Eater of the Year?

Each year, Endless Simmer asks our loyal readers to vote on which person deserves the coveted title Eater of the Year. Past winners include Anthony Bourdain, Hezbollah Tofu, This is Why You’re Fat and Ruth Bourdain. So who made the biggest splash in the food world in 2011? The nominees are…

Herman Cain

Maybe it didn’t work out in the end, but you have to admit, there’s something admirable about a man who isn’t afraid to say that running the nation’s 36th best pizza chain qualifies you to run for president. In fact, there isn’t much at all Herman Cain is afraid to say. In a world where presidential politicians deep-throat corn dogs in public and then retreat to their campaign bus for lobster thermidor, it was refreshing to have an honest eater in the race, at least for awhile. Herman Cain wasn’t afraid to sing about his love for crappy fast food, or to declare that only sissy men put vegetables on their pizza. He wasn’t afraid to eat chicken wings win Michele Bachmann, or to propse that poor people don’t need food stamps because they can just buy used food. How is this man not already eater-in-chief? Just hope he never asks you to dinner. (Photo: Broward Palm Beach New Times)

Epic Meal Time

We can all acknowledge that the Food Network is pure shite nowadays, and there hasn’t been a food show worth watching since Cookin’ with Coolio. What the teevee execs don’t seem to get is that Americans don’t want 30 minute meals or cutesy casserole recipes. We want WORLD RECORD BREAKING FOOD.

Enter Epic Meal Time, the web TV show that ate all of the other web TV shows and then burped them up. Fancy an 84-egg sandwich? Meatloaf made out of McDonald’s? A Christmas tree crafted from bacon? EMT’s outrageous creations make state fair food look like a tea party hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, and we just can’t look away. The ultra-American eaters dirty little secret? They’re Canadian.

The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project

When Julia Child said she was going to use television to teach Americans how to cook French cuisine properly, people laughed at her, but she became a foodie legend. When Julie Powell said she was going to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and record it all on something called a weblog, people just thought she was weird, but she became a blog-to-book-to-big-screen phenomenon. When college student Lawrence Dai decided he was going to watch Julie & Julia every day for a year, people immediately realized he was a genius. Yes, the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project had all the hallmarks of a jokey web project that wouldn’t last more than 15 minutes, but Lawrence actually did it, watching J&J a full 365 times, and firmly proving that online journalism does indeed have a purpose.

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Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week

sandra lee kwanzaa cake

– You eaters love your tweeters, huh? It’s still early in the 4th annual Endless Simmer Eater of the Year voting, but Ruth Bourdain has jumped out to a commanding lead with 50.6 percent of your votes. The Michelin Man is running a distant second with 18.07 percent, although HuffPo reader YankeeCanuck brings up a good point:

Michelin Man has a name — it’s Bibendum.

Did not know that! Thanks, YC. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is running a surprisingly strong third with 13.08 percent, and we’ve seen write-in votes cast for Jamie Oliver, Cooking for Assholes, Gordon Ramsey, Man vs. Food, Hungry Todd Rungy and Lisa Murkowski (spelled correctly).

I’d like to cast a personal write-in vote for an eater whose big move came one day too late to be nominated: Denise Vivaldo, a recipe ghost writer who made the shocking confession this week that she is the person who originally wrote and sold the universally acknowledged worst food crime of all time:  Sandra Lee’s infamous Kwanzaa cake. We’d give Denise a special award, but she’s currently hiding in an undisclosed location. If you haven’t voted yet, don’t forget to cast your ballot for Eater of the Year.

– Elsewhere, Nick (Macheesmo) agrees that gansie’s laborious nacho constructing method is the only way to go:

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Who is the 2010 Eater of the Year?

2011 is just around the corner, and that means it must be time for the 4th Annual Endless Simmer Eater of the Year Awards. Every December, ES asks our readers to decide which food personality has had the greatest influence on our edible lives over the past 12 months. Past nominees have run the gamut from Padma Lakshmi to John Mayer and Meryl Streep, but only one outstanding luminary can win the title Eater of the Year (Anthony Bourdain, Hezbollah Tofu and This is Why You’re Fat won the popular vote in past years). Who will take home the crown in 2010? It’s up to you. Read up on our five finalists below, then vote for your favorite at the end of the post.

And the nominees are…

Ruth Bourdain


Like everything we love, the original concept behind Ruth Bourdain was equal parts preposterous and ingenuous. Take the earnest, life-affirming tweets of Gourmet (RIP) editor Ruth Reichl and spice them up with the gutter mouth of 2007 Eater of the Year Anthony Bourdain. The result is a 20,000-follower twitter feed that reeled off some of the year’s most prescient foodie thoughts, from “I’m all for grass-fed cows, so long as they don’t eat my stash,” to “If I read another food trend list, I’m going to drink a beer cocktail, hijack a food truck, and drive a cupcake up your bacon-infused ass.” The gag grew into a daily project that soon spawned a Ruth Bourdain advice column and even caught the attention of Reichl and Bourdain themselves, who both profess to love it. Tony Bourdain says he has a suspect as to who the mystery writer is, but for now the real identity of this tweeting eater remains deliciously secret. (Any guesses?)

The Michelin Man


In an era when everyone swears the professional critic is dead and the new arbiters of taste are none other than you and I, the 2006 announcement that France’s most venerable restaurant reviewers would expand into the United States was met with a chorus of skepticism. This was, after all, the same year Time magazine declared YOU the person of the year. Who cares what the snooty writers from some 100-year-old French guidebook think when I can just read my own reviews on Yelp? The answer apparently, is everybody. In just four years, The Michelin Guide has defied the conventional wisdom of the Internet age and become the most respected restaurant review in North America (as it already was in Europe and Japan). The guidebooks’ results are reported not just on the food pages but in the main section of newspapers as genuine national news stories; the country’s most celebrated chefs pace all night before new ratings are released; and the designation of a shiny star from the Michelin Man has made neighborhood cooks from Brooklyn to Oakland into instant cheflebrities. Now everyone just wants to know where he’ll go next.

Sid Lerner


In 2003, Mad Man-era advertising guru Sid Lerner turned his back on consumer culture and took up the mantle of sustainability. He partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to start Meatless Mondays, a novel initiative that encourages eaters to go without flesh one day a week, thus cutting consumption by 15 percent, lowering greenhouse gasses, helping us all live longer…you know the drill by now. It took a few years, but the Meatless Mondays mantra is now a food world commandment that has changed the way many of us eat. A-list restaurants like Dovetail and Babbo offer meatless menus every Monday; public schools systems and colleges including Yale have embraced the concept; and San Francisco is about two steps away from making meat on Mondays against the law. Thank you Sid Lerner, for giving us a way to feel good about ourselves while still eating bacon 18 times a week.

Professor Mark Haub


No civilization has ever had a more dysfunctional relationship with weight loss than America. Every year or so, we collectively decide what the new way to lose weight is. Don’t eat fat. No, wait — don’t eat carbs. Actually, eat carbs, but only before 10 a.m. Strike that — no carbs, but eat as much meat as you want and only while standing up. Of course, there’s one old-fashioned weight loss method that we never hear much about — just don’t eat so freakin’ much. But could that really work? To prove the relevance of this rather novel theory, Kansas State Professor Mark Haub spent two months eating nothing but crap — specifically, Twinkies and other Hostess/Little Debbie snack cakes. The twist is that he was only allowed to eat 1,800 calories of it a day, making the point that you don’t need some miracle food or fad diet to lose weight — you just need to eat less. Haub lost 27 pounds during two months on the Twinkie diet, and an attentive American audience vowed that each of us would never eat more than 1,800 calories in a day ever again. Nah, I’m just kidding. We shoveled fifty pounds of Twinkies in our face every day and swore we’d sue Mark Haub when we didn’t get skinny.

Sarah Palin


For a few months following the 2008 election, it seemed possible that Miss Wassila 1984 would fade quietly from the national scene and head back to a simple life of moose chili cook-offs. But that was not to be. Fortunately for freedom-loving foodies everywhere, Sarah Palin repositioned herself as the anti-Michelle Obama, anti-Michael Bloomberg food crusader. Wherever there was a seemingly noncontroversial food issue this year, Sarah Palin was around to spice up the argument. The healthy kids act? Not on her watch. Curbing childhood obesity and addressing the rise of diabetes rates? Sounds like a bunch of cookie-hating commie bullshit to Sarah. Whenever foodie elites like the Meatless Mondays crowd started to overreach, Sarah was there to refudiate them with red meat quotes like “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” Finally, a politician not afraid to endorse cannibalism. Give ’em hell, Sarah. (Photo: Momlogic)

Also receiving votes: Gail Simmons, USDA Dairy Management, Sandra Lee, The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project. Vote for the winner — or write in your own candidate — below.

2009 Eater of the Year: This is Why You’re Fat
2008 Eater of the Year: Hezbollah Tofu

2007 Eater of the Year: Anthony Bourdain

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Who is 2009’s Eater of the Year?

As is now tradition, Endless Simmer marks the end of each year by looking back at the chefs, restauranteurs, politicians, talk show hosts, bloggers, and ordinary culinary schmoes who make each year tastier than the one that came before. But unlike certain other publications, we don’t make the final decision ourselves (Ben Bernanke? booooring.) Instead, it’s up to you readers to decide who should join past winners Anthony Bourdain and Hezbollah Tofu in the Endless Eaters Hall of Fame, and more importantly, claim the crown of 2009 Eater of the Year.

So read up on our nominees and cast your votes below.

Meryl Streep


Foodies love to talk about how much we adore Julia Child. She introduced us to French food, she let us use butter, she never once said the word “yummo.” But the truth is, every icon can use a little updating — and really, if Julia was so perfect we’d all spend a lot more time re-watching Lessons with Master Chefs and a lot less tuning into Ace of Cakes, wouldn’t we? Only Streep could take the notoriously self-deprecating, gangly, mumbley Julia Child and turn her into a winsome, genius, sexy (was that just us?) star. If we could just get Meryl Streep to reenact every old episode of The French Chef, now that’s something we’d watch everyday.

Jose Garces


We’ve been hyping Jose since way before he grilled Bobby Flay on TV and then schooled all comers on this year’s The Next Iron Chef, and with six eateries and counting, no one did more to put an American city on the culinary map this year than Philly’s Garces. Some might argue the world wasn’t in need of another name-brand chef-lebrity, but if this means Garces’ unique menus are coming to a city near us, we’re more than game.

Michelle Obama

One year into the Obama era and Guantanamo’s still open, wars are still being waged, and unemployed food bloggers everywhere are still living without health insurance. Well, at least there’s one person in the White House who doesn’t let Joey Lieberman tell them what to do. Mrs. O decided to forget about literacy, china settings, or whatever it is first ladies are supposed to do, and instead made her first year in office all about food. She invited culinary students to the White House, planted a vegetable garden on her front lawn, got a farmers’ market put in across the street — heck, she’s even going on Iron Chef! Now that’s what we call a year’s worth of accomplishments.

This is Why You’re Fat

Every year has one big concept food blog that takes the Internets by storm, a la Julie & Julia or Hezbollah Tofu. The 2009 entry was unquestionably This is Why You’re Fat, a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the crap Americans actually put in our stomachs. Like some kind of greasy, pornographic car wreck, TIWYF is so wrong yet so right, and we just can’t look away.

Rachel Maddow

A bit of a dark horse, but you’ve got to hand it to the only nightly newscaster willing to devote extended segments to taking on corporate agribusiness and their evil henchman. If you’ve got a free 25 minutes (and if you’re reading this, come on, you do), you really should watch Rachel’s hard-hitting piece about the DC lobbyists who spend millions of dollars trying to convince Americans that our fish need more mercury, our fats need more trans, and everything needs more high-fructose corn syrup. Plus, when was the last time you saw Keith Olberman talk Afghanistan policy while making a croquembouche with Martha Stewart? Did Walter Cronkite ever compare health care policy to ordering a pizza? Can Bill O’Reily show you how to mix a Jack Rose? Does Barbara Walters know where to find $2 tamales in Hell’s Kitchen? No, no, no, and no. Rachel Maddow: foodiest newslady ever.


Throughout the decade, Americans have become more and more obsessed with what we eat, and the whole foodie movement has been a constant struggle between two competing ideologies: the desire to be more in sync with our planet and our bodies, and the desire to wrap everything in bacon. But this was the year when people seemed to find a balance, when everyone and their mother became a part-time vegetarian, a vegan-til-nighttime, or a one-day-a-week meateater. Flexitarianism may not fully placate the PETA activists or sate the hardcore meatheads, but in contrast to all those other diet trends, it actually makes sense, and that’ s not something we see a lot of around these parts.  (Hilarious illustration via Breckenreid)

Vote Now!

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Previously: 2008 Eater of the Year Awards

2007 Eater of the Year Awards

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