Imagine, if you will, stuffing your face with 380 whole prawn wontons…in 8 minutes. Hard to digest? Alright then, how about consuming 103 hamburgers in 8 minutes? It’s difficult to imagine eating that much and that quickly but for professional competitive eaters this is just another day at the office…or is it the restaurant?
On Saturday 19th November, Melbourne hosted the first national C.P. Biggest Eater Competition in which the best of the Australian best prepared their stomachs to take part in this culinary cuisine contest. With overcast skies and an annoyance of rain, the crowds still turned out in the hundreds to see who would become Australia’s crowned king and queen of chow. Hosted by C.P. and MC’d by Australian comedian Josh Thomas, the day would be packed with three finals to find the male and female winner, a special concert by number one Chinese girl pop group “iMe” and a very exclusive performance from three of the world’s professional top eaters, #1 world ranked male Joey Chestnut, #3 world ranked male Tim (Eater X) Janus and #2 world ranked female Juliet Lee.
Though some might see wontons as a great hangover cure, for 15 men and 6 women of pure amateur status, they were ready to go the distance to down enough wontons to hopefully win $2000 and a trip for two to take part in the International Grand Finals in Bangkok next year. Now, to explain the competition is easy enough. Each round lasts for 8 minutes in which the competitor eats as much as they possibly can within that time frame. Each pot consists of 5 whole prawn wontons and they must eat the whole thing for it to be counted. To win…you have to out-eat all the rest, and this is not as easy as it sounds.
The competition, dear folks, is not for the faint of heart and you are at your own risk to stand close to the eaters. Believe me…the sight is not pretty. The first two finals consisted of men of all ages, race, shape and form. Nervous tensions hung in the air as competitors paced back and forth, laughing anxiously with others and filling the space with small talk. Placed before them were the trays that held the pots of food that would deem their glorious status or their shameful demise. A few slaps to psyche themselves into it and a crowd countdown of 3, 2, 1 and bang….away they go.
Their technique was nerving to watch. Their chew chew swallow method may work for them but looking at it makes one’s stomach turn. It’s not so much their effort as opposed to their faces. The wontons go everywhere and their eyes water with pain as they realise endurance is the key to this game and not the pace. 8 minutes is a long time to eat 70 wontons as opposed to the world record of 380. Some guys jump around to keep their momentum up but I figure this would be a worse way to keep the won’s down. They shove them in, munching away till they can afford the space to shove some more in. Honestly…it freaks me out and I often turned away to ease my queasy tummy.
Five minutes down and the crowd was both freaked out and astonished. It was like watching something horrible unfold before your eyes whilst at the same time revelling in the spectacle. Six minutes down and then the expected happens. Two men throw up. And it happened in slow motion. The eyes popped out all strained with watering, dilated pupils. A chewed wonton appeared behind the mouth of one of them and then dribbled down his chin. The crowd…went…hysterical. Sounds of grossness reeled out inside Melbourne Central Mall whilst the two men bowed down behind the table to do the necessary duty of throwing up. The final two rounds ended with a tie between two men reaching a record number of 105 consumed wontons. The ladies final was slower but more tactful. The six of them paced themselves, and rightly so, given the aforementioned occurrence. No regurgitation this time and the victor beat the rest, eating 75.
After a much needed diaphragm rest and a special concert from Chinese girl band iMe, the main presentation was ready to proceed. Three of the world’s best competitive eaters were to show the Melbourne crowd how the deed is really done. Crowd favourite and world number 1, Joey Chestnut, was aiming for another world record to outdo his already impressive 380. World number 2 and show pony Tim (Eater X) Janus look set to go with his iconic painted face. And world number 2 female Juliet Lee took to the stage with massive red flower in hair and a smile of gold. This woman was truly a sight to see. Weighing in at 48kg (105 pounds) and standing at 1.63cm (5’4”), she really had everyone wondering how she could put away her last year’s effort of 160 Shrimp Wontons in 8 minutes.
The crowd counted them down and before you knew it, the world’s best was showing them why they were, THE WORLD’S BEST. Hurried would be one way to describe it, but rushed would be the better verb. These icons were literally grabbing all five wontons at once and shoving them into their face. It took the men 45 seconds to chow down on 50. Another two minutes and 125 had been consumed. It was truly uneasy to watch. Never have I felt my stomach jump so much. At 3.44 minutes Joey was at 200 but Tim surpassed him by 25. Would this be an upset? Juliet was blazing away from all the other females by reaching 130 at the 4 minute mark. The sweat that pooled down Joey’s face was like a downpour and occasionally he gagged whilst swallowing. It was at that point the spectators in front moved away. The pro’s were a class act and wowed everyone with their continued stamina, but when the final buzzer sounded off it was Eater X that won on the day with 320 wontons. Joey scored just under 300 whilst Juliet had beaten her best to consume 175.
Thunderous claps and cheers reigned out for the pro’s and it was truly a smorgasbord filled day of fun and one that allowed the Melbournites a view into the stomach centric sport that is competitive eating. A wonderment in its own right, the competition raised over $10’000 for the charity ‘Youth Project,’ as well as supplying the entertainment to make everyone squeem to horror filled standards. If the old adage, ‘we are what we eat,’ comes into concern here, then by competitive values, these players are true masters at their game.