We recently had a chat with Adam Moran about the weird and wonderful world of competitive eating and all things pizza. You might know him as Beard Meats Food, a prominent social influencer and entertainer with over 220k subscribers and 25 million+ views on his Youtube channel. He’s also been on the telly recently, including Channel 4’s ‘The 2,000,000 Calorie Buffet’, so we were really excited he agreed to talk pizza with us.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into competitive eating?
I think I realised that I had a naturally large appetite about three years ago now. I’ve always really been into health and fitness, lifting weights etc, and I did this really long diet around 3-4 years ago where I just wanted to see how lean I could get. I got down to around 8% body fat which was crazy; I think there are a couple of photos of me around that time that various newspapers have since published, but after I was done with that diet, my fiancee said she’d seen this eating challenge at a local restaurant and that as kind of a treat I should go do it. So we went and I ordered it. I think it constituted 12 burgers, a pound of fries and two milkshakes. Sure enough I finished it and got the bug from there.
What came first – competitive eating or vlogging?
I wouldn’t say I really classed myself as a ‘competitive eater’ until maybe 2017 when I did my first independent pro-contest to be honest, but definitely the eating came first. As I mentioned, I started doing a couple of food challenges at local restaurants just as kind of a hobby. I started my channel a little while after, again just as a fun little side-hustle, but before I knew it I’d started to develop a small cult following.
Growing a channel, following or community; whatever you want to call it, takes time. But at the point I noticed I was making more from my YouTube videos than my regular job, I decided to quit and focus entirely on my channel. I’ve got other revenue streams of course like food photography, marketing and social media management for some restaurants, but my channel is my primary focus.
What’s your favourite challenge you’ve completed to date?
That’s a tough one, because I look back fondly on each one for different reasons, and I change my mind a lot, haha. In terms of prestige, I’d have to say something like Britain’s biggest mixed grill at The George Grill in Stockton on Tees, just because it’s massive and I’m the only person ever to have finished it. There are others though, like this giant two man pizza challenge I did with fellow competitive eater Dan Kennedy in Buffalo, NY. It’s essentially a 40″ pizza and the record had been held at something like 17 minutes for years, but Dan and I got it down in around 13 minutes, so it’s cool to have dethroned some American competitive eaters on their turf… even if it was just a pizza challenge.
Which was the toughest?
The toughest I’ve actually finished was probably this 4ft chilli hot dog at a place called Holy Moly’s Deep South Kitchen. It’s basically a giant hotdog, covered in chilli, weighing in at 11.5lb, which is one of the more expert level restaurant food challenges I’ve done. I actually failed it twice before finally managing to get it down while being filmed for Channel 4’s documentary, so that was fortunate, haha.
Do you still enjoy pizza outside of eating it as part of a challenge?
I would very rarely eat pizza in my day to day life. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it, just that it’s one of those foods that is always rough to digest, and you can’t really make it part of an every day, balanced diet. When I’m not filming or competing or something, my diet is ridiculously regimented and very targeted. On days off I’m basically trying to get as much nutrient dense food in as possible while eating in a severe calorie deficit to balance everything out. So pizza doesn’t really fit in.
One thing I will say is that when I eat pizza by choice, I try to avoid chains. I’ll seek out an independent Italian joint. Some of the places in New York are incredible. If I’m ever in New York, that’s the one time you’re likely to catch me just casually eating pizza on the street.
Where’s your favourite pizza place? Is there an small local places you’d recommend?
My favourite chain would have to be Papa John’s. I’ve actually done a lot of promotional work for them. I think they picked up on how much I like their pizza from some of my earlier videos so they’ve invited me to their HQ a few times which is cool, but I think big chains are limited in terms of the quality they can produce, especially when you’re talking take-away. For really top notch pizza you’re gonna have to hit a proper restaurant I think. There’s a place in Horsforth near Leeds which is great called Tratoria Il Forno, which serves 20″ pizzas, which might make you think it’s quantity over quality, but they’re absolutely delicious. I keep thinking next time I visit I might go for three of them!
What’s your favourite pizza?
Call me a weirdo but my favourite is pepperoni and pineapple. I’m really into experimentation with flavours and I love sweet and salty together, so pepperoni and pineapple is basically a more intense, salty and sweet combo than a traditional hawaiian (ham and pineapple). I’m kinda getting into goat’s cheese on pizza too, as opposed to your more conventional mozzarella. The one thing about that is you’ve got to be careful what you pair it with, since it’s a much sharper cheese. But I’d recommend giving it a shot, especially with some caramelised onion on there too.
Are there any toppings you hate?
I wouldn’t say there’s a particular topping I hate. I mean there are things I don’t think are supposed to go on pizza. Fish for example. Some people love it, but for me putting tuna or anything like that on a pizza just tastes odd. The only food I really truly despise, aside from spicy stuff in general, is brussel sprouts so that would be a no go for me. Funnily enough ASDA did a Christmas dinner pizza for a limited run last December which was actually pretty good, but I was careful to remove most of the sprouts.
As long time subscribers, we know you’re not a fan of spicy food… how do you deal with spicy food in a challenge, do you eat it first or leave it to the end?
It really depends on how spicy it is. I’ve done ghost peppers before but I’ll avoid them at all costs these days. If there’s a spicy element to an eating challenge, for example, I just did this previously undefeated burger challenge at Handmade Burger Co a couple weeks back which included a half pound of jalapeños. Now, jalapeños aren’t the spiciest food in the world, but eating that quantity of them – especially when you hate spice as much as me – can be tricky. So, I just left them to the end. I knew the challenge was only around 6lb, so I wouldn’t be anywhere near full capacity. In the end I wasn’t really biting them, I’d just put a handful of jalapeños in my mouth, then chug water and swallow. Mechanically speaking, I wasn’t really eating jalapeños… just drinking water with jalapeños in it!
We love pairing pizza with beer; are you a beer drinker?
I don’t really drink much at all any more. I used to drink a lot when I was younger, back in my uni days, but it doesn’t really fit with what I do now. As I mentioned, I eat and drink for health and function, so I can’t really spare a couple of hundred calories every few days drinking beer. Not to mention I’ve never really been a ‘home drinker’ and I have less time to socialise these days. I do drink on occasions though, if I’m ever out with friends, around Christmas and birthdays etc. I’m more of a spiced rum and ginger ale man myself, but I’ll always start with a beer for old times sake!
I generally prefer lighter beers compared to more robust, European stuff but there’s this Mexican beer called Dos Equis which you can barely get anywhere in England. That’s one of my favourites. Gotta be careful when it comes to beer though in my profession; when you can drink a gallon of liquid in under a minute, things can go sideways very fast!