Saturday, October 24, 2009

Meltdown At Roosevelt Park...

Traditionally, as August rears it's head, the Dragon Boat Festival comes to Queens, as does the Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest, which takes place at the festival. This is the contest, for independent eaters, which starts the winding down of the "season", as competitive eating is more often a summer event. I was informed by Kevin Li, who works at Chef One and helps organize the contest that the it would not be held in August, but instead, moved to October. Also, since it did not coincide with the Dragon Boat Festival, it would be held in Manhattan and they would host their own Dumpling Festival. I was pretty excited to hear that and waited for the sign up date to arrive. And waited...

Last year, as I was completing my first "full season" which included traveling to other states and briefly joining an organization, I entered the Dumpling contest for the first time. I did 55 dumplings in 2 minutes in the first heat, which came awfully close to last years record of 60 Dumplings set by my CE arch nemesis "Gentleman" Joe Manchetti. He took the stage for the second heat, after not expecting me to put up that good of a number, and stepped up his game hitting the 66 dumpling mark. I took second place and the $500 prize which included beating a highly ranked competitor, awesome eater and heck of a nice guy, Ian "The Invader Hickman".

Finally I did a search and found the sign up info for The Dumpling contest which would take place in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. I signed up immediately before it was even announced on eatfeats.com. Coming into this contest, I was confident. Expected to arrive was Manchetti, Furious Pete Czerwinski who was currently the only undefeated competitive eater in sanctioned contests and Dale Boone who has been talked about previously on this blog and was a no show. These guys were my biggest competition.

Also at the contest and whom could have easily been dark horses were Gabe "The Big Jewish Guy" Kassel who won a pickle eating title with All Pro Eating. Phil "The Fury" Fiore who also upset Ian in a 15 minute cheese steak eating contest in Maryland. A guy known only by the name of Sunshine (once again I forgot to ask for his name) who got an upset win over me at the Choo Choo's Hamburger Eating contest (A restaurant which has since been sold and may not hold the contest anymore) and Paul Porkslap Acaria who finally got another win under his belt by nabbing a Taco eating title. A few repeat competitors from previous Dumpling contests showed up including Chris "Infinity" Yee.

The women's division standouts included Floria Lee who was coming to defend her title, Jill Stoller who was 3rd last year and a close friend who had to be convinced to join (because the dumplings were chicken and she is a vegetarian) since they had only 4 contestants at the time and were desperate for women and Elise Rosenberg who placed 2nd in the Coney Island Atomic Wings contest and who I met at the hot dog/pigs in a blanket eating contest at the Village Pourhouse.

There were 2 women's heats. The winner of the first women's heat was a nice woman who really wanted to win. I believe she did 17. The second round heat featured all the aforementioned ladies. Jill took the same spot of 3rd that she did last year. In a stunning upset, Floria Lee took second place with 33 Dumplings while an unknown named Olia, who was competing for her first time ever and killed 40.

There were also 4 men's heats. A large group of men had signed up and so they expanded the division. I was set to be in the final heat, while Furious Pete took the stage for the first heat. Pete recently made a practice run with what he though would be equivalent sized tortellinis. They looked like they were more about the size of between a third and half the size of the contest dumplings. In that run he ate 89 in 1 minute. If they were half the size, then we knew he'd probably be good for at least 40 in the first minute which would have given him 80 for the contest. While we waited, Manchetti told me about a practice run he had using the contest dumplings and was able to eat about 40 in the first minute. Although he microwaved them which meant they were not necessarily going to be contest ready. He said at one point they became tough to eat. This became an omen because Pete came off the stage and while he was the winner of the heat, he only ate 52, which was shocking at that point. Well short of last years numbers. As he and Paul came off the stage, they told us that they were tough to eat this year because they were whole wheat. I tried a bite of one to get a preview for my heat, but to me, they tasted about the same. Manchetti and myself were delighted at Pete's performance thinking that this contest was either for him or me to lose. The next heat's winner turned out to be one of those dark horses in "Sunshine" who ate 49.

The last round was the grudge match. Myself vs. Manchetti. For me, this was going to be redemption for all my loses to Manchetti and pull off another upset by beating Pete in the same contest. Side by side we stood on stage both feeling good about the fight we were about to go through, filled with energy and fortitude. The introductions were done and finally the countdown. The horn went off and away we went. I grabbed my dumplings at a fierce pace while I noticed that Manchetti stumbled and dropped a dumpling out of the gate. Upon seeing the video I was doing about 1 per second. I had 14 dumplings down in 15 seconds. And then it happened. I found out, in the hardest way possible, what Pete and Paul and Manchetti told me about. Since I had eaten all 14 so fast, they waded up in my throat. I couldn't swallow anything because it was like I had a giant ball of paste in my mouth and throat. I had soaked them in water but that didn't matter. I desperately grabbed a bottle of water trying to moisten the glob and help it go down, but it did nothing but float atop the dumpling mass that was now lodged in my throat. I began to not be able to breath and got nervous because I felt the dumpling heading toward the tube that leads to the lungs and I began to hyperventilate. It only took me a moment to realize that I had to get this out and there was no way that I was going to be able to swallow. I accepted my defeat, to the chagrin of the crowd, and released the wad of dumplings from my mouth. I was livid. I could not believe it because the previous year they were so easy to eat, sliding down the throat with little effort. Later I found that several people choked but since there weren't 14 dumplings in their mouths at one time, they were able to fight through, lol.

In the end Manchetti struggled too, at one point turning beet red because of the difficulty of swallowing these things and was only able to pull out just enough to give Pete his first official loss with 53, falling well short of the record. We can all only hope that next year will go back to regular style dumplings and I can only wonder what my number would have been had I not choked.

Afterward, myself, my girlfriend, Pete, Paul and Jill went for drinks and lunch and drowned our sorrows. Hopefully next year, as the economy improves, there will be more contests happening as this year's season was a lot more anemic than previous years.

Speaking of economy, I am glad to announce that as my stint with 3-1-1 ends, I have accepted a full time position and will be employed within the next month. I've got decent pay, good benefits and great perks including no weekend and holiday work and lots of days off throughout the year. I had waited over a month to hear about the job and my patience paid off as this was really the only interview that I had where I REALLY wanted the job. I had a few jobs show interest including another company which offered me a job on the same day, but I was holding out hope that this company would be the one because of how well the interview went, the work environment and people which seems to be exactly what I was looking for in a place of employment.

Additionally, I will be featured on shows on The National Geographic Channel and MTV soon, which I'm really excited about as well. Things are finally going to be ok. Today's loss was disappointing but I settled down quickly because the future is finally becoming everything I hoped it'd be.

5 comments:

  1. Did the supreme court judge issue a restraining order to Gavonne not to show at the chef one dumpling contest?

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  2. Gavonne won't be showing up anywhere for awhile. He's in jail until he faces a trial.

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  3. I could just picture the look on the legal aid attorney face and the judge when he was charged with stalking Jill of all places at a competitive eating event. The judge must have set the bail at 5 grand but he only has to come up with 10% of the money which he probably doesnt have because the broke bitch doesnt have a pot to piss in. If they send him to Rikers he will have access to computer so expect the creepo to update his blog with more bullshit

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  4. The Fury will return..

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  5. You need to be with IFOCE for safety purposes alone. They always have EMT present. Hope they give you a break and confirm you for roy rogers if you registered

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