Matt’s Sussex Barn Challenge

Mutler vs. Food (the Devil Edition)

Matt Butler

‘Man v. Food’. What a show that was in its day! As a child I was completely obsessed with it. I was bullied a lot at school, so food was one of my few comforts. I always salivated when the food was prepped on-screen. The shredded brisket smothered in BBQ sauce, grilled cheese pork sandwiches with honey mustard glaze, a pizza slice the size of a baby… I’m salivating over it now! Adam Richmond was a lucky git.

I love almost every food known to man, but some of my all time favourite meals are those that contain heat. Please don’t think that I am a heat nut. The food has to have some flavour to it as well. But my love of heat is why, on this occasion, I chose a red lighter. Oh, and I had a dark fruits Strongbow. I was at a pub! Leave me alone!

There were many challenges on ‘Man v. Food’ that I would have fancied a go at, but the most memorable of them all for me was the Ludicrous Wing Challenge. This was one I would probably DIE attempting.  The wings were coated in Satan’s Blood sauce, which has a Scoville rating of 800,000 (compared to a Jalapeño, which is 5,000). I’m not making it up. Proof.

Sadly, the show has ended now. Even more sadly, I couldn’t find any ‘Man v. Food’-style challenges anywhere I looked in the UK. Not until I visited Flaming Grill’s Sussex Barn near Horsham with my mates from Crawley, the dreariest place on earth. I first visited the pub two years ago, during the gap between semesters in my second year.

In the Flaming Grill Challenges, there are four big meals to have a go at, with rewards being a certificate and a photo on the wall. In my opinion, the prestige of beating one is prize enough. In the Big Meat Challenge, you will have to attack a 28oz steak. In the Flaming Burger challenge, you have to climb through four flame-grilled beef burgers, a southern fried chicken fillet, BBQ pulled pork, crispy smoked streaky bacon, a large portion of skinny fries, coleslaw… You get the idea. They are big.

When you first enter the pub, nothing really paints it as a place that would serve such challenges. But the name gives it away. ‘Flaming Grill’ – that just screams American food. It serves burgers, ribs, chicken breasts and wings, steak, and of course, the reason for going, big challenges.

There is one that I attempted recently, involving a burger, a curry and chicken wings. I know, nothing special. Until you hear the name: ‘The Hot, Hot, Hot Challenge’, probably named for the reaction the first bite provokes. Saying it is hot is an understatement. I first attempted this challenge two years ago. I can take an Extra, Extra Hot Nandos like it was nothing, and I regularly ate a chutney made from two-hundred chillies back at my uni house. But this… man, one bite and my mouth felt like I’d swallowed a flame. ‘Gandi’s revenge’, they call it. The curry is Naga, which I’ve found is hot in the Indian cuisine. This one’s as hot as a vindaloo. Then you have the four chicken wings in ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ sauce, and the burger has pulled pork with the same sauce in it.

My advice? Do the curry first. Or better yet, put a lighter in your mouth and set it off. They are both equivalent in pain.

That is what I’ll do in future, if I ever go insane and decide to attempt it again. If you choose to take this challenge on (or any of the others), I wish you luck. But just remember: bring your aloe vera with you for your face… you’re gonna need it!


Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith


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