Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Weeks Ago

It's hard to believe that it was just five weeks ago when I attempted my first eating challenge. I figured with no eating competitions at the time that I might as well see how I fared as a challenge eater. With a bit of coercion from some awesome people, I found myself in San Diego at 9a, bright and early, to take on the Broken Yolk Iron Man Special.

This challenge was featured on Man v. Food with Adam Richman. The five-pound chili-cheese omelet with a pound of home fries and two large biscuits took him 32 minutes to complete. He was one of the 400 people to finish the challenge in under an hour with more than 10,000 failing to do so. To be perfectly honest, I was both worried and excited to try this because I wanted to do well and I was famished from the lack of sleep and hang over from the prior night.


My buddies Lisa and Joyce went with me to the Gaslamp Broken Yolk location and provided great support, documenting the entire challenge. I've been told by people who have attempted this challenge that it would be delicious. And when I started, I was not let down. This omelet was delicious!


Scarf isn't just an accessory used to keep your neck warm, it's how you eat this omelet. This baby was made to scarf. The amalgamation of egg, cheese, chili and mushrooms went down very rapidly. Despite the food being served steaming hot, I managed to consume the entire omelet portion of the challenge in about four minutes.

The pound of home fries and biscuits would prove more daunting however. In competitive eating, you generally use liquid to help get the starches down. Drinking water helped immensely because taking on the remaining fries and biscuits was like being apprehended and beaten mercilessly by the carb-gestapo. This is when I realized why they call this a challenge.


I managed to power through it, even taking a couple moments to take pictures with random strangers. There's something about having great company and a cheering audience that helps you eat food faster. I ended up finishing in 13 minutes. I scored my free t-shirt, picture on the wall and my $30 meal for free.


They also said that I had set the record for the location, besting the previous record of over 14 minutes. Though after doing some research, I found out that Ben Monson had set the record at 11:12 for all the Broken Yolk locations. And since then Matt "Mega-Toad" Stonie had set a new record at an incredible 7:15! So I'm not sure where that leaves me, I suppose I'll eventually head back there to sort this out. Being that this was my first attempt at an eating challenge, I'm sure I can do better.

Here's footage of the challenge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz5gMvHN_5g

With that said, I'll be focusing more on eating competitions in the near future and less so on challenges. I have a few lined up, but my heart really is in competition.

I can't wait to return to San Diego.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Whole Bunch Of Noodles

Thanksgiving Day was a special day at Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley, California. They were again hosting a special all you can eat ramen challenge. I've been excited about this challenge for a couple weeks now, it's a great warm up meal for my epic Thanksgiving dinner later that night.

The challenge is very straight forward, you are given 45 minutes to consume as many additional orders of ramen noodles as you can. Those who eat the required amount of additional orders of noodles are given their additional noodles for free and a t-shirt. Men must finish an additional six orders of noodles and women must finish four additional orders respectively. You must also first finish the initial bowl of ramen you pay $10 for before ordering additional ramen noodles. Also, the person who consumes the most additional orders of noodles during the day is awarded a $50 gift card.

I wanted to win this day.


I met up with my adventuring buddy Ang and his coworker Doug, for the challenge. We also met a couple guys who were also doing the challenge, Mike and Anthony. Everyone was excited to get into their ramen, though we ended up starting two minutes after the restaurant started the clock. Our ramen came out hot, much like the pho 20 challenge I did recently. The experience from that challenge really helped, I immediately poured my ice water into the hot broth.

The challenge went by quickly. I kept up a furious pace through the succession of hot noodles. There was a slight delay between the servings of noodles, but the chefs did their best to keep the supply of noodles coming to the five hungry contestants. Mike and Anthony finished first, they stopped after consuming 7 plates of noodles to qualify for their t-shirts. Me, Ang and Doug took the entire time however. I felt like trash towards the end.

I ended up beating the house record of 8 additional orders of noodles, by consuming 16 additional orders of noodles in 45 minutes. That's a total of 17 servings of noodles. Ang ended up eating the 6 additional orders of noodles to make the cut for his free noodles and t-shirt. Though his coworker Doug fell one order short as the time limit came. They had us write our names and amounts on a dry erase board.


It's a weird sensation to be full both of noodles and satisfaction. Also knowing that you have a 6 pound Thanksgiving prime rib roast waiting for you at dinner definitely messes with your foodie psyche. I estimate that each serving of noodles is about half a pound, so that makes for about eight and a half pounds of noodles plus the broth, meat and vegetables from the first bowl. That's a whole bunch of noodles.

But Hell, we got free t-shirts, noodles and I ended up winning the $50 gift card for consuming the most ramen that day. This was a great victory. You can see the mirth in our faces, especially Ang.


Here's the video from the challenge, sorry again for the technical difficulties. I'm still getting the hang of this video production business:


I'll try to recover and make the most of the long weekend, I hope you guys are having an awesome Thanksgiving weekend too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 5 Buys of 2010

Every year at this time, I like to look back and analyze what I've spent my discretionary income on. What have I purchased in this past year that I'm truly thankful for? That I've really gotten the best bang for my buck from. With Black Friday looming, I thought I'd share my top 5 buys of 2010. Previous top 5 buys have included the likes of Little Big Planet, my roomba and the Droid. Here's what made the cut this year:

#5 - Vingette App for Droid / 4 (~$5.33) at the Android App Market



Take that boring coffee cup picture you took with your Droid and turn it into an artsy masterpiece. The camera on my Droid left much to be desired in terms of dynamic performance. The Vingette application fulfills those desires and then some. It's vastly superior to the stock camera interface and improves flash synchronization for night shots. It's also fun to simply play with the filters to see what you end up with. Good stuff.


#4 - Spare Battery for Droid / $5 with free shipping at Amazon.com




As much as I'm addicted to my Droid, my #1 buy from 2009, I find myself killing the batteries. Often. From listening to Pandora at the gym, to watching Youtube, smashing pigs in Angry Birds or just killing time on homestarrunner.com, my battery dies. I weighed the options for viable battery extending solutions, from portable kinetic chargers to rechargeable 3rd party battery packs, and found that the most elegant solution to be a simple spare battery! They're only $5 with free shipping on Amazon!

When I have really long backpacking trips, I can keep my GPS running for days with spare batteries or just record hours of video. Video of me eating everything I can get my hands on. It's awesome to just swap out the battery and have a fully charged phone again, such a win.

#3 - Generic Aviator Sunglasses / $15 + tax at Pacsun




Yes, good old cheap, generic aviators. I got these on sale one day and I use them all the time. For when I need to get into my competitive eating mode, a simple pair of sunglasses does the trick. I'm really not sure why I love these so much, but maybe because for $15 I really don't care what happens to them. They're extremely liberating to wear. They've also held up quite well and have lasted me through several adventures. I find myself leaving my $150 Oakley's in the case more often.


#2 - Motorola Rokr Bluetooth Headphones / $25 with free shipping on sale at Verizon Wireless



Yes, I know, another phone related purchase, but I do love my phone accessories. Motorola took two things in life that I enjoy, music and technology, and combined them into a practical, compact package. For all my workouts or just when I want to ignore the world for a bit, these things are magical. The audio quality is great and they even have controls built into the headset so you don't have to pull your phone out to change the song, adjust the volume or even answer phone calls. And since they're bluetooth, the batteries last all day too. Brilliant.


#1 - Starcraft 2 / $59.99 + tax at Gamestop



As some of you may know, I'm a pretty hardcore Starcraft player. For the last 14 years I've been hooked, pwning Koreans on their servers and have been refining my zerg rush ever since. It's saying a lot, that for the amount of video games I play, Starcraft easily out ranks the total amount of time I've spent on everything else I've played - combined. That includes all of the Final Fantasies, fighting games, Metal Gears and even Gran Turismo! 

The sequel to my most played game of all time came out a couple months ago and has lived up to all the hype and expectations! It has completely stolen my heart. Though with all the eating contests and adventuring I've been doing lately, my overlords have been getting lonely. I should really spawn more of them.

I hope this gives you guys some ideas for your own holiday shopping, and at least inspire you to quantify the enjoyment you've derived from the purchases you've made. It will definitely be a subjective measure. But for all of us, money is a finite resource, so we might as well spend it on things we truly enjoy. There's nothing worse than irrational exuberance.

Enjoy your Black Friday.


Monday, November 22, 2010

All twenty-eight inches.

It has been a rather active week for me with the eating challenges. As much as I miss active competition, there is an allure to taking on a restaurant's eating challenge. Especially when there's money involved.

There's an XL Pizza Challenge that Ballpark Pizza has in Rancho Santa Margarita. Me and Stephanie have been meaning to attempt this. It would be nice to work as a team for a change rather than competing against one another. We also brought along our buddies Aaron and Sal to take on the challenge at the same time. On a stormy Saturday night, we all headed over to Ballpark pizza to devour that cheesy beast.

The challenge itself is pretty straight forward. You and your partner get an hour to eat a 10 pound, 28 inch cheese pizza. If you complete the challenge you get $100 and the pizza is free. Though if you fail, you need to pay $40.


Our pizza arrived first, but we decided to wait for Aaron and Sal's pizza so we could start at the same time. You are given a choice of beverages and condiments to consume with your pizza. I went with my usual cups of water and Stephanie chose to go with tea, no ice. We also opted to go without condiments.

We dove right in. Although quite haphazardly on my end. I began by stuffing an entire slice of pizza into my mouth and the thick, gooey cheese lodged itself into my epiglottis. My throat refused to cooperate... air? Food? Nope, you get neither sir. I am Johnnie's apathetic epiglottis. Fortunately everything came up into my mouth again, I drank a bit of water and swallowed it all. This cost me some time.

Stephanie was absolutely in the zone, with headphones on and a comfortable rocking eating rhythm she put away that pizza with ease. At this point, I was behind but slowly got into my eating groove. I have to admit that my lack of sleep and excessive drinking the night prior didn't help the situation. We eventually powered through it all and set a new house record of 16:55. Aaron and Sal would follow soon with a time of 21:50.

We all got paid.


Apparently victory smells like pizza grease. And after the challenge, we were all thick with the smell of victory. All in all, the challenge was very satisfying and besides the near-death experience, the pizza was very enjoyable. Though there was definitely room for improvement for me. I have another pizza coming up soon.

You can check out the video here:


Before this, I had an enjoyable day looking for accessories at the mall with my buddy Suzie. I'm still searching for colorful rings to wear for my eating events. The closest we got to finding some was at Claire's and the Sanrio Shoppe, but unfortunately I have giant hands and all of their accessories are made for elementary school aged girls. We did find some slick sunglasses at the Diesel store however.


She ended up painting my nails black too. I loved the contrast between my black nails and my bright blue "I <3 BOOBIES" bracelet. I'll keep this up for future events. I wore it to the XL Pizza Challenge.

The next day, after the challenge, the rain finally stopped in Laguna Beach. I stepped outside and caught a glimpse of pristine sky over the ocean. Winter isn't my friend, but the sunlight and ocean help make it tolerable.


Clear skies are one of the most under appreciated luxuries in life. They make eating days so much more pleasant.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hot Pho!

On Wednesday night I drove down to Ocean Beach to take on the Pho 20 Challenge at OB Noodle House. The restaurant was surprisingly packed at 8:30p with people watching the hockey game, hipsters drinking from an incredible beer selection and drones like myself enjoying some hot Vietnamese pho.

About 150 people have attempted this challenge and only 9 have completed it under the 42 minute time limit. It involves eating a jumbo bowl of pho with two pounds of noodles, a pound and a half of thinly sliced beef and a pint of beer. I was happy that they let me pick my beer. I ended up going with Kirin, a beer I'm pretty familiar with.


My food came out piping hot, so I decided to implement my strategy of pouring the beer into the broth to help mitigate the excess heat. It definitely helped, albeit somewhat less than I had hoped for. It was still really hot, I wished I had another beer to pour in. But victories aren't forged from comfort, so I dug in and tried my best. Trying to ignore the searing fluid going down my throat, I focused once again on process and timing. I wanted to keep a good rhythm to efficiently devour my hot pho.

Aside from the gross, sweaty agony, this challenge was actually really tasty. I've never come across a bowl of pho I didn't enjoy and this massive bowl was certainly no exception. It was delicious. Even without the sprouts, mint or other condiments I sincerely enjoyed the flavor of my challenge.

I ended up completing the challenge under the 42 minute limit and beating the previous of record of 20 minutes by finishing in 9 minutes. I was very satisfied. The people nearby were awesome and incredibly supportive. The bartender let me drink for free afterwards too. I gladly took him up on that offer.


Here's the video of the challenge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8UFe7wxj2s

I did have a bit of a snafu whilst editing the video for Youtube. In the middle of processing the data, my video card decided to melt. I spent a good portion of the following night troubleshooting and fixing my computer. On the bright side, I've been meaning to upgrade my video card and did so accordingly. I got the old rig patched up and running like new again. I love Micro Center.


On an unrelated note, last night, in my usual Friday night inebriation, was the last day you could legally purchase alcoholic energy drinks in the United States. I downed a can of Four Loko for good measure. Thanks FDA for keeping us from doing harmful things to ourselves. Now I can stick to the "safe" method of getting energetic and drunk at the same time: shots of 151 with 5 Hour Energy Drink chasers. :-(


Also thanks to Lisa and Joyce for their awesome support and sorting out the pictures. Lisa did such an amazing job covering the action. :-D


Saturday, November 13, 2010

B.L.T.

Today I had an argument with my old buddy fat in regards to how much of him I want around. So I'm taking a couple weeks off from the eating and focusing on my adventures. My last competitive eating event was last weekend in Corona and I will do another challenge next weekend. However, I will be out in the wilderness both days this weekend.

I'll be hiking up Los Pinos Peak near San Juan Capistrano and doing my routine Crystal Cove walkabout in Newport Beach tomorrow. The weather has been fantastic, and I'm really looking forward to getting some dirt on my hiking shoes again.

I did put together a video for you guys who like watching me eat. Last week, I recorded the first episode of an eating segment I'm posting on Youtube about me doing eating stunts called Johnnie Eats!

Yup, just like the blog name. In this episode I eat a BLT because I really love bacon. Seriously, like more than most people I know. And definitely more than my rabbit Black-black. You can check out the video here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/johnnieexcel?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/pUQeWJ4B1Qk

Thanks for reading my updates, I promise there will be some epic eats soon. I have some awesome eats planned for the Holidays.

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Extra Hour

We all fell back yesterday. An extra hour.

I spent that extra hour camping with friends from the Sierra Club at the El Moro Campgrounds on the Newport coast. The prior night was a blur of conversations about camping gear, eating Chex Mix and drinking Rebel Yell. I honestly can't remember the details, one of the many ramifications of drinking heavily during a camping trip.

I did, however, feel that extra hour was well spent. My day began with waking up to this:


It was glorious. I just wanted to spend the rest of the day adventuring in the wilderness but there was a competition this day. I needed to head over to Corona to defend my cheese steak title at Philly's Best.

I picked up my eating buddy Stephanie "Xanadu" Torres (SXT) so she could compete in the women's division and we headed over to Corona. We arrived early so we thought we'd go ahead and use the racing gift cards I won from the previous cheese steak contest. The race was fantastic, I felt like the Stig from Top Gear:

With my heart beating like a high-compression F1 engine from the race, we went to Philly's Best for the competition. We would compete indirectly with one another, against both competitive eating new comers and veterans, and against my prior record of consuming 4.25 foot long cheese steak sandwiches in 10 minutes.

SXT would go first with the other women and end up winning her second competitive eating competition. She broke my previous best too by devouring 4 1/3 sandwiches in 10 minutes. As usual, I enjoyed watching her eat and welcomed the challenge of the raised cheese steak record.

I competed against 4 guys with no competitive eating experience. My real challenge this day would be beating Xanadu's number, so I kept that goal in my head while I ate my cheese steaks.

I was successful. I set a new record and defended my cheese steak title by consuming 4.75 cheese steak sandwiches in 10 minutes.


We each won 2 more passes for the kart racing, a t-shirt and a $50 Philly's Best gift certificate.

The cheese steaks were much better tasting than I remembered so me and Xanadu finished the remainder of our fifth sandwich then ate a sixth for good measure. We had some ice cream at a local Cold Stone afterwards to balance out the saltiness from the cheese steaks. I was very satisfied after.

We'll be back in Corona next month to defend our respective titles. I'm looking forward to doing more cheese steak eating and go-kart racing. These hours were well spent.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So I Made A Blog

First post! :-P

So at the behest of others, I decided to make a blog to keep people updated on my on goings as a competitive eater & adventurer. I also made a Youtube channel this morning and posted my first video: Johnnie Eats The 5 lb Five Alarm Burger!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnVyNEl-EPM

I hope you guys enjoy it, and thanks for following my adventures.

I'll update more soon but I'll be in the Newport Beach wilderness tonight doing some adventuring and falling back an hour. I hope you guys make good use of that extra hour this weekend. Make it awesome! ^_^