Epic Meal Time: $600 of Meat in One Meal

Harley Morenstein eats a lot of bacon. So do I, but I don't have millions of followers on YouTube watching me do it. Morenstein, along with a cadre of his twentysomething pals, is the creator and host of online cooking show Epic Meal Time, which gets up to 8 million (and beyond!) views on YouTube for weekly episodes that feature Morenstein and crew, say, stuffing five birds into a pig and smoking the whole thing, then eating it orgiastically to the tune of doom-y music. Why is this simple concept getting so much attention? Because people like meat, says Morenstein, who spoke to us from his Montreal lair.

You were a history teacher, but now you've quit your job. You can support yourself off Epic Meal Time?
Yes, but I'm 25 and I live in my mom's basement. All the guys you see on the show, only one of them doesn't live with their parents.

What attracted you to doing an over-the-top cooking show?
I have always wanted to do something in media. It's hard to get in an actors' union so I started making music videos. I was filming artists and local rappers. I told them, "Just pay me $100 and I'll do your video." I had a video game review, I had a kids' show planned. But I just happened to see a picture of a Happy Meal on a pizza, and it was summertime ...

Which you had off, because you were a teacher.
Right. We put all this fast food on a pizza, we filmed it, then it sat on my computer from July to October, while I was still filming people's weddings. Finally we got it up. And in five days it got 90,000 views.

And you decided, "Hey, let's keep doing this."
Yeah. We did it a few more times, then we did Angry French Canadian. It must have been a slow news day in Canada, because a whole bunch of news outlets said, "But hey, these guys made a poutine–French toast sandwich." That one got 600,000 viewers. [So we said,] "Shit, we have to do this every week."

So you started releasing a video every Tuesday. How did you decide what to cover?
Yes, Tuesday, because that's kind of a shitty day, and the World of Warcraft servers have downtime that day. We were looking at the traffic for the French Canadian video—we noticed we had 80 percent Canadian viewers, 20 percent Americans. "Huh. Americans seem interested, why don't we try to get more of them? What's the most American thing you can think of?" Canadian Thanksgiving had just passed, American Thanksgiving was next, why not do something with turkeys?

How long did that take to pull off?
In between planning and deboning and making the stuffing, and smoking the whole thing at the end, that was two solid days, and $600 in meat. I didn't know if I was going to be able to pay for the whole thing on my credit card, so I put on my Facebook page, "Anyone who wants to come over and help us eat this thing, bring $10 to help pay for it." That's why there are all these strangers at the end of the TurBaconEpic video.

Did you ever go to cooking school? Your knife skills aren't bad.
Ha, in the last few videos, we outsourced to a professional chef. That's why that looks good.

Do people recognize you around town?
Yes, they do, and when they come up to my mom, she doesn't know quite what's going on but she says, "Yes, my son is the drunken bearded one on the Internet." Actually, my brother was at Dairy Queen wearing an Epic Meal Time shirt, and he looks a lot like me, so the guy at the counter said to him, "Bacon strips, bacon strips," and asked for his autograph. When my brother got his ice cream, the people in the store were watching him eat it like it was an event. It's good, except sometimes at fast-food restaurants we feel pressured to eat more food. Like, sometimes everyone wants to eat a salad.