Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fat-Man: The Pork Knight Rises

I have been pretty lackadaisical about updating this blog. I've decided I wanted to be more frequent about using it and posting more updates.
I mostly post on Facebook, which is sort of a micro-blog and people find a lot of different things I post interesting, so I decided, why not dust off the old blog and spruce it up a bit.
I've decided I'll try to post something once a day. Whether it's a contest report or interesting video or link. Just something to keep this thing busy.
I read other people's blogs and wish I had something interesting to say everyday, but the fact of the matter is, a lot of what people post are bullshit. So here's mine :)

So far this year in competitive eating has had it's ups and downs, but I'm chugging along.
Here's a brief report of the contests I've done.

February 5th - Wing Eating Contest at Park Place Bar & Restaurant - Floral Park, NY - Placing Unknown

This contest was two minutes long and on Super Bowl night. Superbowl is one of the biggest competitive eating days of the year. Wing eating contests are all over the place. I decided my best bet was to go to Floral Park to try and win an iPad. My decision was lacking as I fell to "Gentleman" Joe Menchetti.
I had some good wings and watched the Giants take the big game. Wasn't a terrible night overall.

March 8th - National Hamantaschen Eating Championship - New York City - 1st Place

This event was put on by All Pro Eating, the organization I'm ranked #3 with. The event was sponsored by El Al airlines and a "Beat The Pro" event. If you haven't guessed, I was the pro. Ten amateurs lined up to take on The Champ for five minutes. The winner would receive a round trip ticket to Israel if they won and two tickets if they were able to beat me.
For the uninformed Hamantaschen is a delicious cookie with a jelly center. They were pretty good, but the crumbly texture made it difficult at times. In true fashion though, I was able to take on the competition handily and ate twenty five of the treats while the winning amateur ate fourteen. For my win, I was also awarded a round trip ticket to Israel.

March 9th - The Last Supper - New York City - 1st Place

Sponsored by (and also an All Pro event), this contest was an exhibition that was opener to the website's premise; competitive losing. The object is to set up an account, get a group of friends together, put some cash on the line and lose weight. Those that hit their goal would win the pot of money divided evenly.
As far as the contest is concerned, I faced good friend Joel "The Cannon" Podelsky (above with the mask) and All Pro announcer Mike "The Sisco Kid" Sisco (above sporting cat ears). I won this two minute contest as well with one and a half super size slices of Pizza, however there was no prize here. The prize was in the Diet Bet. Myself and five other All Pro Eating associates (organizers, eaters, etc.) were tasked with losing 4% of our weight. While I did lose twelve pounds, I did not hit the goal. Joel & Mike went on to lose over fifty pounds a piece.

March 24th - National Spring Break Competitive Eating Championship - Lake Havasu City, AZ - 4th Place

Here was a great weekend. I met up with All Pro chairman Todd "The Hungry Genius" Greenwald, Director Of Operations Dave "Coondog" O'Karma and eater Ian "The Invader" Hickman (above in white t-shirt and sun glasses). We all landed at the airport in Las Vegas and all invaded Vegas, Laughlin, desolate parts of California and of course, our desitnation - Lake Havasu, which is a beautiful city and great vacation spot. While we stayed at a local Hampton Inn hotel, the competition was held in the Kokomo Party Bar which was attached to the London Bridge hotel, which features an actual reconstruction of the real London Bridge.
The food of the day was Cheese Fries and was eight minutes in legnth. This had to be one of the toughest contests I've ever done. The food and competition were both stiff. A lot of the top west coast indy eaters came out including Naader "Freak8er" Reda (above in plaid), Kevin Ross (above in orange) and Stephanie "Xanadu" Torres (duh...). Unfortunately the fries were reheated and tough to eat, so I did not have a good showing. In fact the numbers all around felt like they were lower than they should have been.
In the end, I was edged out of a 3rd place cash prize by Kevin. The winner of this one was Stephanie Torres, and it marked her first All Pro contest.
I had a moral victory as I was able to take out Ian and Naader, both of whom are great long distance eaters.

April 14th - Beav's Long Boom Hot Dog Eating Contest - East Stroudsburg, PA - 2nd Place

I traveled out to East Stroudsburg with my girlfriend with intent to win a 50" television. We thought that a great competitor by the name of Dave Brunelli was going to show up, but he turned out to be the least of my worries because he didn't arrive. The only other contestant I knew was a kid by the name of Justin Vernon. The only thing I knew of Justin was his wing eating prowess. I had never seen, or really heard much of him competing in anything outside of wings, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This contest was five minutes and was a cliff hanger. The hot dogs were gigantic and easily the length of two and a half standard sized hot dogs and a hell of a lot thicker. I got off to a nice lead as Justin had choked on a piece of hot dog within the first minute or two and I thought I'd cruise to victory. We were given five standard sized buns with the five jumbo dogs and were given to us separated. I got a rhythm going but ate the five buns before finishing the five hot dogs. What I found during the contest was that the buns were helping the dogs go down. Without the buns, I was hit with flavor fatigue and the food became much harder to swallow. In retrospect, there were 5 more buns that I could have used but I thought I could power through for the win. Justin wound up winning by one of the monster dogs and took home the TV.

April 27th - Wakefield Sandwich Company World Chicken Salad Sandwich Eating Championship - Michigan City, IN - 3rd Place

My third All Pro event of the year. I decided to enter this one and make a trip out to Chicago to get away for a few days. I made a decision a while ago that when I can make the trip to a contest that might be a little further away than normal, that I would make an attempt to get there so I can go to new places. Chicago was a city I've been meaning to go to for awhile and had some friends I wanted to see. The contest was a bonus and the catalyst for the trip. The competition here was loaded. Tomas "Tommy Boy" Cortina, Chris "The Mad Greek" Abastas, Ernie "The Mansfield Monster" Clifton, Eric "Silo" Dahl and Stephanie.
There were three goals to this contest for me. Avenge my loss to Stephanie from Spring Break. Try to beat Eric, who is ranked number one in our organization at the time of this post, and beat Chris because he was ranked just below me and I wanted to, at the very least, cement my number three rank.
I was able to fulfill only one of those goals but came very close to two. I was able to edge out Chris by four full sandwiches, but what I was really happy about was how close I came to beating Steph. I had a solid lead over her for at least five minutes or so and then it happened. With about four sandwiches on her plate, she had this sudden burst of energy and scarfed them all down, giving her about a one sandwich lead. I held steady, hoping to regain the lead, but wound up faltering by a close half of a sandwich.

May 10th - Matthew Nierenberg Annual "Heart Of Gold" Fundraiser Pizza Eating Contest - Staten Island, NY - 1st Place

I was the only professional to show up to this one and first to finish a large pizza pie in five minutes and ten seconds. The fundraiser was put on by a family who lost their son at a young age of a rare heart disease. The event seemed successful and my girlfriend won a Coach bag set in a raffle to boot.
A little more about the charity: Our primary mission is to provide an annual scholarship to a deserving youth. The Matthew Nierenberg “Heart of Gold” Scholarship is a fund that will be awarded to a senior high school student for use in continuing education. The scholarship will be awarded to the student that exemplifies Matt’s persona best.

 May 19th - Philadelphia Pretzel Factory Pretzel Dog Eating Contest - Philadelphia, PA - 3rd Place

I had only been out to Philly once and it was only a pit stop. I decided to head out to this contest for the five hundred dollar prize. When I got there, I'd find out that this was a contest for the total of  thirteen minutes. Which, outside of a challenge, is the longest contest I've ever done. Like I said before, I am not the best distance eater, so thirteen minutes is a bit of a stretch for me. Brunelli did wind up showing up to this one and he was on point. He won the first ten minute round with Breandan "Skin & Bones" Lyman in 2nd place and three of us tying for 3rd (the top three were to advance to a three minute sprint). When the sprint ended, I had missed out on 2nd place by one pretzel dog and did not get a cash prize for 3rd.
Later in the evening I met up with Dave "U.S. Male" Goldstein for some cheese steak sandwiches at the famous Pat's and Gino's locations.

May 26th - Go Go Curry Eating Championship  - New York City - 3rd Place

I was not scheduled to be in this contest originally. I was informed by Menchetti that he would not be able to make the contest due to work related issues and offered me as his replacement to the Go Go Curry folks. They tweeted out to their followers that there would be a one bowl eat off to take the spot, but no one else came. The competitors for this one were Brunelli (above in his distinctive green shirt), Paul "Porkslap" Acaria (grey shirt next to Brunelli), an amateur named Leo Chan (black shirt on the right) and a Japanese import Masashi Okamura. Masaahi edged me out the previous year, by just one bowl, to take 3rd place. Although I increased my number from fifteen to seventeen, it was not enough to take him out as Brunelli won with a dominant 25 bowls and Masashi took 2nd with eighteen to my seventeen.
This will likely be my last Go Go Curry contest unless prizes are offered for 2nd and 3rd place going forward.

June 3rd - Rocco's Annual Brooklyn Pizza Eating Contest - Brooklyn, NY - 3rd Place

This is where it all started for me. The first two years of this contest, I dominated and everyone in Bay Ridge knew who I was. These years, not so much. Since they have put more money into the contest, stiffer competition has arrived, but I've still done pretty well despite not winning it all. This year brought Brunelli, Goldstein (above in the red t-shirt), Seth Grudberg (who holds the world record for eating dumplings at a separate event at the Chef One contest and is pictured first above), "Munchin" Mike Longo (above next to Seth) and Pat "From Moonachi" Philbin (can't be seen). This was a good mix of familiar and new faces. I didn't really think Seth would do much of anything considering there was no real competition during his dumpling win, but I heard he started pretty well until eventually running out of gas. I've beaten Longo on a consistent basis, so I couldn't let him beat me.
The main competition would be Pat, Brunelli and Goldstein. Aside from a curry eating exhibition we did last year, I had not faced off against him. Considering this was a long contest at twelve minutes and his eating experience, it would be a nice win. Especially considering all the smack talk.
I held steady with Pat and the two Daves for a decent chunk of the contest, but as with most long distance contests, I petered out and wound up less than two slices behind Pat and Brunelli for 3rd place and beating Goldstein. I also hit my personal best number for this contest with seventeen and a quarter slices.

June 24th - Stinky Brookyn's Cheese Eating Contest - Brooklyn, NY - 1st Place

While Rocco's popped my competitive eating cherry, Stinky will always hold a nostalgic place for me because it was the first contest I did after deciding to expand and eventually go pro. There is no money for this contest, but they give me a nice gift basket every year along with some other little bonuses and they love having me win year in and year out. This year was a little more special than the others as I finally hit the one pound mark within the two minute time frame and won my fifth title in a row. Patrick, who owns several business, along with his wife, thanked me emphatically for coming year in and year out to do the contest.

July 4th - Windmill Hot Dog Eating Contest - Hoboken, NJ - 1st Place

I wasn't sure where I would wind up for 4th of July. I was invited to join the Crif Dog Classic but after speaking to a few people about whether or not to do it, I decided against it. In order to win any money, I'd have to place in the top five. I believe I had a shot of being "in the money" but I'm honestly not sure where I would have landed. Where I did wind up landing was Hoboken in New Jersey for a foot long eating contest.
When I arrived, I was a little star stuck because I found out one of the contestants of my favorite reality show Big Brother, Adam Poch (above in black), would be competing. I had no idea if he had eating experience because I'd never heard his name in the eating circle. Indeed it was his first contest. He wound up with a respectable five foot longs in 10 minutes. A kid named Joe did six for 2nd place and I won with eleven. This was the locations first contest, but they said there was a record of thirteen but I wasn't able to find any information about it. Presumably it was held at another Windmill location.
Also, about half way through the contest, the Gentleman showed up. I thought that he possibly was coming to cheer me on since he was at another near-by contest. As it turns out, his contest had been cancelled, and they let him start eating half way thought! It was funny through because it wasn't considered serious, though I am thankful he didn't make it in time.

July 14th - Bud Light Wing Challenge - Wildwood, NJ - Placing Unknown

I have a crazy history with this contest. It's a team relay contest and I've won this contest two times with two teams. The first year consisted of my Joel and a friend of mine, Jamal, who never did a contest before. We wound up beating a team that was captained by Jonathan "Super" Squibb, who we didn't know before then and won it in controversial fashion. The next year, Joel and I repeated with Menchetti in tow. Squib's team consisted of Brunelli and Brian "Dudlight" Dudzinski, who would wind up becoming an IFOCE eater. We beat them again with an MVP performance from Joel. Last year, Squib and Brunelli convinced "Furious" Pete Czerwinski, from Canada, to join them. Menchetti, not wanting to travel as far as he had to to face them, bailed on us and we picked up Mark "Bonestripper" Reigelsperger. Mark was a really good wing eater known for consistently dominating the one Super Bowl contest contest he usually does. That year he had lost the contest to Joel because he had recently had oral surgery. We wound up losing pretty badly. This year, Joel didn't want to compete because he's been losing weight and being more selective about contests. I picked up Justin Vernon because I knew from experience that he was an awesome wing eater. Menchetti wasn't available to me, so I made a couple of calls but wasn't sure what to do. I took a risk and asked Mark again. He has beaten Brunelli at the Super Bowl contest, so I figured he was back to his old form. I'd find out on the ride there that the problem was the size of the wings, and that he was used to a smaller wing size and had a strategy. The strategy didn't prove to work in the end and we lost. Not as badly this year since we were able to get to our third eater. I believe that thirty seconds could have been the difference in this contest. Next year will require some restructuring.

July 15th - Royal Caribbean Bakery and Caribbean Food Delights National Caribbean Food Eating Championships - Middlebury, CT - 2nd & 3rd Place

Two contests, one day. Not something most competitive eaters want to hear, but when some of us registered for this contest, knowing they would both be shorter than average, we requested to do both. We weren't going to be able to, and for this reason, some registered competitors decided not to come. The day was long and while contests almost never start on time, logistical issues kept the contest from starting anywhere near what we expected, or from having adequate cover from the blazing heat. Because of these issues, we didn't have enough amateur competitors lined up and we were back to the potential of doing both contests again. So after hours of sitting in the heat, when myself, Menchetti, Mark "The Human Vacuum" Lyle (above to the right of me), Mike "The Real Skinny" Hoffman, Jon "The Pride of CT" Taylor and the handful of amateurs that did sign-up hit the stage, a thunderstorm started.
All issues aside, the contests turned out great and excited the crazy crowd that was clawing over each other for the free swag being thrown out in between. Both contests were "first to finish" but we're also given a five minute time frame. With Bun & Cheese I defeated good eaters that I'd never faced before in Mark and Jon. Mark wound up getting the best of me in the second contest however where I was struggling to finish and place 2nd. Mark had a bit of a choking fit where I was almost sure he was going to be disqualified. But he wound up pulling it out and next thing I know it was a race for 2nd to finish the last beef patty and he nailed me by about a minute.

I have several contests scheduled to close out the competitive eating "season" and I think a few of those will be wins to notch under my belt. I plan to be more diligent about writing about them and updating the blog with interesting things. So stay tuned...

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