Monday, October 31, 2011

Day and Night

I believe Cole Porter said it best with the lyrics, "Where you are, I think of you, day and night, night and day." to accurately describe the feeling of an unending obsession to satiate one's urges. 

Though he was most likely referring to homosexual sodomy, I'll be using it to describe my own feelings toward eating challenges and contests for the purpose of this blog post. Though I haven't been very active in the competitive eating business lately and have been especially lazy at updating my blog and youtube channel, I have had some epic all you can eat sushi runs in the past month and a half and my obsession with competitive eating has been active both day and night. 

Recently, Kevin Ross and I headed up to Northern California for yet another another eating escapade. This time we decided to stop at Batter Up Pancakes in Fresno, Ca to check out the Grandslam Challenge that our friends in the competitive eating community have been raving about. We arrived about an hour before their closing time of 2pm and the restaurant was cool about preparing a double challenge for us since we contacted them ahead of time. 

The owner was present and eager to see us attempt the challenge since he wasn't present for the record setting attempt Matt Stonie did last year. He finished the challenge in a very quick 6 minutes and 4 seconds destroying the old record of 42 minutes. Since the challenge was only about 4 pounds in total, we would both be going after the time Matt had set. The challenge is to consume a pizza platter sized 25 ounce pancake along with a 10 egg scramble with a cup of cheese and four toppings of your choice mixed in within the 45 minute time limit. 

Normally they serve the scramble on top of the pancake but during his record setting attempt, Matt opted to separate the scramble from the pancake and we did the same. It helped me out psychologically because I've always considered pancakes a sweet food and mingling with a savory combination of eggs and cheese would probably be distracting. To save on mass, I chose to go with double spinach and double onions for my toppings since they would likely cook down in size and Kevin ended up with some mushrooms mixed in and avocados on top of his scramble. 

I thought Kevin's scramble looked more appetizing but mine was still very delicious. He decided to attack the pancake portion of the challenge first while I dove into my scramble. It was fantastic and a definite shame to scarf down so quickly. I finished my scramble at about the same time Kevin finished his pancake. We were both making good time on completing the challenge. My strategy differed from Kevin's strategy of tearing up the pancake. I simply rolled up the entire thing and went at it like a giant burrito. 

This proved to be very efficient as I was able to beat Matt's record by nearly a minute, finishing in 5 minutes and 8 seconds. Kevin struggled a little with the scramble portion of the challenge but still managed to complete it in a respectable 7 minutes and 20 seconds, the third fastest time for the challenge on record. We left there feeling satisfied but not necessarily full and along with the prizes of a t-shirt, mug, picture on their wall and a refund of our challenge money, the owner also gave us a couple free dessert pancakes for the road. I haven't had such an awesome experience with an eating challenge in a while, the guys running the place were fucking boss. 

Here's video of the challenge: 

The next day, after avoiding any alcohol or staying up late we went to Lumpy's Diner in Antioch for their annual hamburger eating contest. Kevin opted out since he did another challenge earlier that day and the notion of paying $40 to register seemed like a waste. I had some decent competition for this event even though last year's champion, Matt Stonie, couldn't compete to defend his title due to his contract with the MLE. 

I would face off against veteran eaters such as Darin Verduzco, Naader Reda, Dax Swanson, Mary Bowers and most notably my old buddy Stephanie Torres. I haven't competed against her since our last hamburger contest in December 2010 and was very eager to see how we'd stack up against each other in a year's time. The contest was the same 12 minute, all you can eat format using plain hamburgers that I lost to Matt with last year by part of a hamburger. He managed to eat 10 of the large hamburgers Lumpy's Diner provides in 12 minutes, a total Stephanie and I would surely be setting out to beat. 

Having beaten his record the prior day at the pancake challenge I was rather confident that I could do the same with hamburgers. I mean it's not like it's current Matt we'd have to beat but "Last Year" Matt. Fortunately they stationed me next to Stephanie so we both could keep track of each other's progress and as the contest began, I could tell that we were both there for business. She employed her usual eating style, tearing the food into smaller chunks while I was using my practiced method, swallowing large portions of food without chewing. 

This proved somewhat hazardous since I coughed and choked a couple times on stage but fortunately didn't reverse. This set me back a little and we managed to keep pace with each other through most of the 12 minutes. Some of the other eaters ended up reversing during the event but I pretty much kept my attention to Stephanie's and my own plate during the contest. It came down to the two of us again and she took the victory by working on her 13th hamburger while I was on my 12th. 

They didn't count partials so here's the official results for the top 5: 

1: Stephanie - 12 hamburgers
2: Johnnie - 11 hamburgers
3: Naader - 8 hamburgers
4T: Darin - 7 hamburgers
4T: Dax - 7 hamburgers

It's nice to see the progress that we both made as eaters in the past year and having both of us beat Matt's record at this contest was very encouraging. I'll blame my loss on a couple bad swallows and nearly reversing during the start, something which I hope to correct with practice, but Stephanie really has come a long way in her eating career and totally deserved taking home the Lumpy's belt and prize money.

I can't wait until our next competition together and maybe another eating challenge. I'm sure I'll be obsessing about it like Porter's song describes.