There’s a new “Man” on the Travel Channel.
Brooklyn actor Casey Webb makes his debut as the new host of the rebooted “Man v. Food” on Aug. 7, when the series kicks off in none other than New York City.
Other cities in the new season of the show, which travels across the country in search of over-the-top food challenges, include Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and Portland, Oregon.
In the New York premiere, Webb stops at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn for its Pizza Box Pizza, Clinton Hall in the Financial District for its fondue burger, and Staten Island’s Lunchbox to try one of three challenges: a 151-oz. milkshake, an 8-lb. sloppy joe or six wings made with habanero ghost chili extract.
amNewYork spoke with Webb, who lives in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, about the new season, making pizza in Brooklyn and his go-to restaurant in NYC.
How did you first get interested in food?
From the back of the house washing dishes at a pizza place to the front of the house managing and everything in between — that’s pretty much where I found work for myself. This came along. I did an interview for it, there was an audition. I was up for the challenge. I’ve basically spent my life in the restaurant business, but traveling the country and meeting the other folks in the restaurant business has been quite extraordinary. It’s the best job ever.
What makes you uniquely qualified for this role?
I guess I’m very energetic, and willing to take on the challenges. I’ve done some fun challenges with friends when I was younger in New Jersey. One of my favorite things to do on the planet is to travel. With the challenge, in addition to that, it’s a win-win. Meeting all the folks across the country has been really exciting. You walk in and it is so familiar, surprisingly. I feel welcome.
Once you knew the role was yours, how did you want to put your own stamp on it?
I just wanted to make it fun for everyone to watch. I enjoy myself in the kitchen, I enjoy cooking food, and I enjoy sharing food. Anything that I could give to this show is just that — this sense of joy and fun and lightheartedness.
How did you end up choosing where to go?
Collectively, with production. We wanted to find places that were unique, that people didn’t really know about. We definitely wanted to do a pizza — it’s New York City. I wanted to do a burger there. And I wanted to have a challenge that was really unique. We covered it. We were able to find three really unique places New Yorkers and people traveling to New York will love.
Vinnie’s had made a special Casey slice when you filmed. Will that come back?
The Caseydilla. I hope so. I hope Aug. 7 when we air they will throw it back on the menu. I might have to go make a visit, talk those guys into putting my slice back up. That day, people were crushing it. Lots of folks were having slices while we were filming.
Did you know they were going to do that?
I had no idea. All of a sudden, there’s my face, wearing the shirt that I’m wearing. I think they went to production — they maybe knew what kind of shirt I was going to be wearing that day. It was pretty hilarious. I was blown away. Those guys are awesome, they were really nice. I love those guys.
What was it like to go behind the scenes, in the restaurant kitchens?
As a kid, I worked in a pizza place washing dishes. You weren’t allowed to make pizza, or I wasn’t. I couldn’t drive the car, I wasn’t old enough. To go back there and make pizza in an actual pizza place in New York City — I hit my bucket list. In Brooklyn of all places.
What are your favorite, go-to places in New York?
New York City is such a vast place of uncertainty — as long as I’ve lived here, I’ve always discovered new places. Currently, I’m spending a lot of time in my neighborhood. Over near [Prospect] Lefferts Gardens, there’s a bunch of new, great restaurants and bars that have kind of popped up. One of these I go to, they have a great burger there, is Midwood Flats. It makes great drinks. It’s literally around the corner from me. I’ve been on the road — I want to keep it local — that’s one place I’ve been spending time in. Outside of that — ramen. Ramen anywhere.