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Taking the Fort by storm
Andrew Logsdon has the appetite to win
By Jim Mount
Fort Wayne Reader
It's a late Thursday afternoon at Halls Deck as Meteorologist Andrew “Big Dawg” Logsdon finishes the first of three challenges: A dining contest that pitted him against three of Halls employees in a showdown to see who could put down the biggest plates in the shortest amount of time.
The one-on-one competition is a new wrinkle for Logsdon — he's more used to timing just himself on taking down significantly large offerings in a set time frame. But mere moments later, Logsdon vanquishes his first challenger, holding aloft the emptied plate and bowl of what was a decent-sized Spinach Dip appetizer. The first leg of the triathlon now finished, Logsdon then heads upstairs to Takaoka of Japan to finish off a full Takaoka plate dinner (which he did), then back downstairs to the Gas House to take on a full dessert.
In the end, the dessert proves to be too much, but Logsden wins the competition, taking two out of three.
Logsdon, a Meteorologist and reporter for WFFT Local 55, took on the Gas House challenge as part of his Weatherman vs Food series, a segment on WFFT's Friday 10 pm night newscast. It's a segment featuring trips to local restaurants where Logsdon takes on the challenge of taking down the biggest and baddest plate a restaurant can throw at him in the shortest amount of time.
“This goes all the way back to my high school days.” Logsdon says of the competition, “My buddies and I were all big eaters. There's a Mongolian Barbeque chain in the Seattle area we liked that we would go to at least once a week, and we wouldn't let them take away our plates, we just used them to stack and keep track, just keeping score.”
Logsden took his culinary enthusiasm to his school paper, starting a column rating the local restaurants food offerings. “It was called the Grub Club, and I would compare the food in the area — who has the best wings, who has the best nachos, things like that. When I was at college at Washington State I wrote for the Daily Editoring and I brought Grub Club with me.”
What really kicked it in for Logsdon to start this challenge in the Fort Wayne area was the Travel Channel show Man vs Food, a concept Logsdon long had in mind but now felt the motivation to make happen; “What really got me going with the idea was when I saw the Travel Channel show “Man vs Food.” “At first I was upset because it was the exact thing I've been wanting to do,” Logsdon says. “The format of the show was the same, but Adam Richard did it first so he got it.”
Logsdon usually travels to a couple of restaurants a week to film the challenges; that means he has to prepare his appetite to take on some solid eating that drops on his plate through the week.
“A few days before I left for Halls,” Logsdon says, “ I went to Casa on Stellhorn where they had me do a big loaf of bread, a toasted ravioli appetizer — like fifteen pieces of that — a big bowl of salad, a huge bowl of this four cheese pasta and then a big slice of six layer cake. I had to eat all of that in 20 minutes. That was a lot of carbs.”
The very next night he was at the Rib Room, taking on two full slabs of spare ribs and a basket of fries in fifteen minutes. “That came out to about four pounds worth of meat,” he says. “I ate every rib clean and just came up short on the fries.”
What allows Logsdon to fulfill this dream is his job with WFFT Local 55. Logsdon, originally from Sultan, Washington, graduated with his Communications degree from Washington State University then earned an on-line Meteorology degree from Mississippi State University. He moved to Fort Wayne with his family in September 2011 got a job with WFFT Local 55 and just recently signed on for another two year stint with the station.
“My first news job was in 2007 in the Twin Falls, Idaho. I was KNBT weekend weather anchor because I wasn't a meteorologist yet and I also did the weekend report.” Logsdon recalls. “I did a year and a half there and from there I got a job at KLAM at Joplin, Missouri, a CBS station and I was there for about a year at about the same time the economy went terrible and my wife and I weren't making any money. We just had Abbey, our five year old daughter, in Twin Falls and going through the whole time in Joplin, no one knew how to handle her with her disabilities so we decided to move back home with family in Spokane and take a little break from news for a couple of years.”
Aside from his job WFFT and his Man vs Food segment, Logsdon’s most important job though is his role as a father. Married for about 10 years, Logsdon and his wife Kristen have a five-year-old daughter Abbey and a two-year-old Kennedy. Abbey has severe physical disabilities — Goldenhar Syndrome, which mostly affects the right side of her body. “She was born with a facial palsy on the right side, a soft cleft palate so she didn't have the ability to suck,” explains Logsdon. “She couldn't nurse, and so at 18 months she had that surgically repaired.”
Abbey is also deaf in one ear. “It's folded over in what's known as a microtia,” says Logsdon. “That's going to be one of her surgeries, they're going to reconstruct it so that it looks like a normal ear. She wears a hearing aid which is called a Baha, which conducts sound through the bone so if you were to put it against the top of your head it would sound like a speaker on the top of your head projecting the sound down and she wears that on a headband.”
“She has scoliosis because a few of her ribs are fused to her neck on the right side so she has limited range of motion to her right,” Logsdon continues. “Ss she grows her spine is getting more and more question marked shaped which is why, eventually soon, she will be undergoing spinal surgery. She will always be tiny. I don't even think she will even reach five feet tall, she'll always be small.”
“It's been a learning experience,” Logsdon says of their ordeal, “but she's absolutely perfect.”
In order to help deal with the additional costs of the surgeries, the Logsdons have set up a fund and a T-shirt sale for Abbey to help offset the additional expenditures.
To find out more, check out their Facebook page, Help Abbey Grow. To see Andrew Logsdons latest dining challenges tune in Friday night at 10 for the WFFT Local 55s news broadcast.