Did man conquer food this time? Just seven hours short of the season premiere of Man V. Food, West End general manager Mike Lawinski isn't spilling the beans -- or the wings. "They were pretty intentional about making sure the media didn't know," he says. In fact, the crew didn't even want Richman's appearance publicized -- unlike when the Man V. Food star visited Jack-n-Grill in early 2009, and took on the seven-pound burrito in front of a packed house.
But while Lawinski can't talk about the outcome -- you'll just have to turn on the Travel Channel -- he can talk about the process.
And he can speak from experience, because Lawinski is the first Wing King in the West End hall of fame.
"It was so much fun," Lawinski says of the March 25 filming, which went from noon until after midnight. "The cast and crew are really genuine people." As for Richman, "he's basically a comedian who eats food....It's really interesting chatting with him. You'd ask a question, and then he'd tell a joke."
The kitchen kept busy all day, turning out stunt doubles of the wings for the crew to shoot, and then, finally, making a fresh batch when Richman was ready to eat for the cameras.
And how many wings did he consume? Lawinski takes the fifth. But he does allow that "wings are a huge seller for us," adding that the kitchen goes through "maybe 1,500 to 2,000 wings a week."
The West End will certainly go through plenty tonight, when it offers a mini Wing Challenge -- six wings in a minute -- during the Man V. Food watch party.
For the record, here are the rules of the Wing King Challenge:
* eat 50 wings in 30 minutes.
* all meat must be in your mouth in 30 minutes.
* all meat must be consumed.
* the manager on duty has the right to disqualify the contestant at any time.
* all wings need to be clean (bone visible).
* challengers who successfully complete the challenge must wait 12 months before attempting the challenge again.
* if the challenger completes the wing king challenge he/she will be reimbursed for the purchase price of the wings.
* the challenger is not allowed to leave the table when they are engaged in the challenge (no bathroom breaks allowed).
* if the challenger ejects the wings anytime after the challenge while at The West End Tavern they will be disqualified.