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PEOPLE caught up with the host as he kicks off season 11, which premiered on Thursday with actress Margot Robbie, to find out what goes into the making of the show, who his favorite guests are, and why if you see him in a restaurant, please don’t offer to buy him a plate of wings.
As Hot Ones has grown in popularity, each season has brought more and more star power. Trying to narrow it down to even just his top five guests is difficult for Evans, 33, because “they all kind of check different boxes for me,” he says. There are a few though that stand out for one reason or another.
“There’s some that I like based on some sort of weird behind-the-scenes story about how it galvanized the show together. That’s Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand,” he says. “It’s those episodes that have a special place in my heart.”
“Then there’s ones that are a good vibe level like the Paul Rudd episode,” he adds. Alexa Chung also makes the cut because her U.K. show Popworld paved the way for Hot Ones. “Her sort of irreverent bio in interviews really inspired the blueprint for what we do,” says Evans.
One of his dream guests is Howard Stern, who was an idol for Evans when he was studying broadcast journalism at the University of Illinois. They’ve asked him to make an appearance, but Evans isn’t holding his breath. “Will Howard be scorching on chicken wings for the Internet’s amusement? Knowing what I know about him, as a gambling man, I don’t know if that’s where the money is,” he says, “but you never know.”
Since booking their by-far, most-requested guest, Gordon Ramsay, for season 8, viewers have moved on to other asks: “If I look at my Instagram comments or what people tweet at me, Keanu Reeves and Will Smith, and The Rock that are constantly being yelled at us. Those are the new trophy hunts.”
Evans — who recently unveiled the newest Hot Ones-branded hot sauce Los Calientes Rojo, which is available for purchase now — has become a celebrity in his own right, with some fans dying to talk Scoville units with him.
“It’s like the comedian who does standup with the beer next to him and then everybody wants to buy him shots,” he says. “Same with me with wings. It’s like, ‘Hey, dude. I’m in Kansas City. Where’s the best wings spot around here?’ Or, people are like, ‘Hey, we’d love to get your thoughts on this hot sauce. Have you tried this?'”
But since he’s downing 10 wings nearly every week of the year for the show, they’re no longer his go-to meal. “When I’m off the clock, I’m just drinking juice and eating cereal and salads and stuff,” he says with a laugh. “If I’m off the clock, I’m not eating wings.”
Hot Ones airs Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET on First We Feast’s YouTube channel — and Hot Ones: The Game Show, also hosted by Evans, premieres Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 10 p.m. ET. on truTV.