Hey, Everyone! Mandy is back with some more of her amateur competitive eating adventures! I hope you enjoy her re-cap as much as I did…
Hello Man Fuel-ites!
Greetings from the big apple! I guest blogged for Man Fuel about 4 months ago telling of my adventures as an amateur competitive eater. I have since been gorging myself, and I’m back with some new tales to tell! After writing for Man Fuel, I took a bit of a break while I looked for new challenges and pursued some other “challenges” in my life. I soon ended my hiatus by returning to one of my favorite eating challenges.
[TWO] POUNDER CHALLENGE – CHEEBURGER CHEEBURGER – FARMINGDALE, NY
I returned to the Cheeburger Cheeburger in Farmingdale, NY to redo the Two-Pounder Challenge which I successfully completed once before. I love the atmosphere at Cheeburger Cheeburger with the 50’s style decor, mason jar beverage glasses, and classic tunes playing over the radio, so it was something I looked forward to repeating. I wore the (now slightly faded) shirt I had worn previously to the restaurant while hoping I didn’t fail and look like an idiot. When I ordered the two-pounder, the waiter sort of sized me up- saying, “Alright…,” in a “Pfff- yeah right!” kind of way. I certainly hoped to prove him wrong! I could barely sit still as I waited for my burger to arrive. I hoped I would be able to complete the challenge, get a free T-shirt, and earn my spot on the “Repeating Offenders” section of the Wall of Fame.
As the waiter placed the giant burger in front of me, I began to question my decision. “Is the burger bigger than last time? Did they really put that much cheese on it last time I was here?” I quickly pushed aside my worries, cut the massive burger in half and dove in. I encountered some of the same dilemmas that occurred during my last Two-Pounder Challenge. The burger also seemed a bit denser and dryer than the previous one. I made my way easily through the first half. The second half, I split into two more sections. I chewed slowly near the end- quite aware that my “gag button” was feeling a bit sensitive. I wasn’t sure if it was from my lack of practice or over-thinking. I do tend to over-think, and believe me, it’s all about getting past that mental block, which I have yet to master.
Once I finally swallowed the last chunk I felt the relief wash over me (or perhaps it was just burger grease…). I went to the front of the restaurant to pick out my new t-shirt. I was glad to see they had different designs this time! I picked out a “BIG IS BETTER” shirt complete with a cartoon burger in the middle, and proudly watched as the waiter once again pinned my photo to the Wall of Fame.
10TH ANNUAL ‘CHEF ONE’ DUMPLING EATING CONTEST – NEW YORK CITY, NY
After competing in my very first speed-eating contest (Burrito Eating Contest at Skinny’s Cantina) earlier in the year, I decided to try my hand (or mouth) at the 10th Annual ‘Chef One’ Dumpling Eating Contest in Manhattan. I like dumplings, but I had never tried eating them very fast in the past and I had no idea how to begin preparing myself. The first thing I did was search the contest on YouTube and watch the competitors from last year’s contest. I was amazed at the techniques displayed, and I began wondering what technique I would use for the contest. I was quickly sent down the right path when another competitive eater contacted me and shared some of his wisdom (i.e. chew as little as possible!). I knew what I had to do and I began practicing. I had about 3 weeks to prepare before the competition. I tried using different techniques and practiced stuffing my face with dumplings for 2 minutes. I finally settled on a technique which I felt worked best for me. I was feeling very confident after doing multiple practice-runs with this technique and hitting high numbers. I felt I had a good chance at placing. I constantly visualized how it was all going to go down… or so I thought.
The day of the contest, I woke up early- hopping out of bed as if it was Christmas morning! I contemplated eating a light breakfast, but decided I would go without. It seemed better to go at it with an empty stomach. I arrived at the location, paid the $20 entry fee (the proceeds went to the Food Bank for New York City) and met up with some of the other competitors. Soon, we were checking in and being ushered into the big, white tent marked “Dumpling Eating Contest.” Once inside, I looked around and noticed there were numbers on the seats. I looked down at the number I had been given to put on my shirt and matched it up with one of the chairs in the back of the tent. Okay. Good. I had made it that far. Phew! I took swigs of my water as I sat waiting. It felt like an eternity for the staff to come and go over the rules (even though it was only like 45 minutes).
They were very thorough about the rules, reading over each one to make sure everyone understood. You had to be 18 or older, no one was to begin eating prior to the start signal, each contestant had to stop eating immediately at the 2-minute signal (but was allowed to swallow any dumpling left in his/her mouth), if anyone vomited that person would be disqualified immediately, and the most stressed rule: the dumplings could not be physically mashed or crushed before entering the mouth.
So the contest began. The first “heat”, consisting of 8 men, was ushered onto the stage. All the contestants who weren’t participating in the first round watched intently from below the stage. Murmurs filled the air as everyone discussed the goings on.
“Are they opening their water bottles before the start signal? Can we do that?? “
“He’s already pouring water on his dumplings!”
“The dumplings look oily this year…”
The horn blew, and they were off! Everyone studied the techniques shown by the first round of competitors. Water splashed as the competitors raced to douse their dumplings and the men chose the approach of jamming as many dumplings into their mouths as possible. Pieces of dumpling flew everywhere. It was anyone’s game.
The two minutes felt like a long time. Finally the horn blew, and everyone was instructed to stop eating. The announcer joked, shouting “Hold it in! Just hold it in!” Just in case someone wasn’t able to “hold it in,” buckets were conveniently located beside each contestant. The numbers were calculated, and the competition began with a fierce number to beat of 72 for the male competitors.
The first men’s round was followed by the first women’s round. I braced myself as I scurried to the front of the stage to watch the competition. I would be in the last round, so these would be the numbers to beat. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HOOOONK!” The round began. Most of the women took an alternative route to the men’s technique. Instead of stuffing their mouths full with dumplings, they mostly ate them one at a time. The round finally ended, and the numbers were confirmed. The highest number was set at 30 dumplings. Okay, okay. Not too bad. I was still feeling fairly confident in my abilities.
The rounds continued, and I watched as the last men’s round competed with one of the men taking first place at a groundbreaking 86 dumplings! I was definitely glad there were two divisions for this competition. I didn’t have to compete with the numbers the men brought in. As the 2nd women’s round began, I watched as women stuffed their faces to Katy Perry’s blaring voice – “‘’Cause I am a champion… and you’re gonna hear me roooaaarrr.” I watched the woman in the center of the heat, and began to realize she was going to top it as I saw her clear not 1, not 2, but 4.5 bowls of dumplings! The crowd went nuts as the number was held up. The new record had been set at 90 dumplings in 2 minutes, which left the male competitors grumbling in disbelief.
I walked back to the side of the stage to take my spot in line. Somebody had to take 2nd and 3rd place in the women’s division, right? There was still hope! “I just want to go home…” laughed the woman in front of me.
I braced myself to go on stage by attempting to regain my focus and visualize my goal. When I was announced I took my place behind the table. I opened my water bottles, took a deep breath, and prepared myself for what lay ahead. The horn sounded quicker than I expected and I grabbed my first dumpling, shoving it into my mouth. Don’t ask me what song was playing or what the announcer was saying while I ate, for I truly have no idea. Everything was pretty much silent. Water shot out my nostrils as I gulped in between dumplings, and spit ran down my chin. Let’s face it folks, this is by no means a glamorous sport.
I hit some complications in the middle of the contest, and there was definitely a moment where I panicked a bit. However, I did finish by shoving every last morsel I could into my mouth as the horn blew. The numbers were announced. I only ate 15. I am glad I at least made it into the double digits, but to be honest, I would have liked to see it higher.
All in all, I had a great time! It was an awesome experience, and I’m pretty sure I will probably attempt it again next year. In the meantime, I will continue to practice and gorge myself on gigantic burgers whenever possible.
A big thanks to Man Fuel for having me again on his blog. So long, and remember as Man Fuel says: “Eat like a man. It’s good for you!”