"It is possible to die from eating. But I think to be professional means you don't die." (Takeru Kobayashi)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I was in Lancaster this past weekend and stopped by the Hershey Farm Restaurant, better known as the site of the annual Whoopie Pie Festival and whoopie pie eating contest. A flyer inside said the "amateur whoopie pie eating contest" would be held during the festival on September 20, a full month earlier than last year's contest.
I'm not sure if they emphasized the "amateur" requirement last year (I think they did), but seeing as how my career winnings total a whopping $25, I'm pretty sure I qualify. While I was there, I snapped a few pictures of some goats.
This past weekend I payed my first and last visit to Yankee Stadium before they tear down the place at the end of the season. Historically speaking, it's a great ballpark. Beyond that, it is what it is -- an 85-year-old building outdone by scores of newer stadium throughout the majors.
Like most parks, lunch will cost you a fortune. I should know this by now, but here's a lesson for you: Never go to the ballpark hungry. Three Nathan's dogs and a 16-ounce Bud Light ran me $23.50 (yeah, the beers are $8.50 each). Whenever I take out a loan to buy stadium food, I try not to do the grocery store equivalency math in my head, but I always do. It's usually followed by a devious yet somehow flawed plan to smuggle hot dogs into the next baseball game I attend.
Below is a shot of some Yankees cookies for sale in the stadium. I don't know how much they cost. Probably way more than a dry, bland sugar cookie should.
More pics from my trip to the Bronx can be seen here.
Somehow, only 48 hours after attempting to eat the largest steak I've ever seen in my entire life, I'm actually hungry for a steak. The UEPa met at Gregory's Steakhouse in Allentown this weekend. One of us was successful in our attempt to consume Gregory's 120-ounce (7.5 pound) steak, but all of us had fun. I'll let the pics tell the tale.
Our waiter brought out our steaks two at a time. The sizzling platters were audible before he even entered the room. Sweet Jill Stoler, Ian Hickman and I each ordered the 120-ouncer, which came with a choice of potato side (a heaping plate of house potatoes, mashed potatoes, or fries) and a heaping plate of steamed broccoli. Wild Bill and family also ordered a 120 ouncer, but wisely decided to split it amongst the three of them. Shanna's steak, a 24-ounce ribeye, looked like a pork chop compared to our feasts.
Me, moments before digging in. We eached ordered one topping on our steaks. I ordered mushrooms, Jill went with onions and Ian opted for garlic butter. I would eat about four pounds of my steak in about an hour. Jill did about the same, including making a nice dent in her mashed potatoes (I should take this time to remind everyone that Jill is a strict vegetarian).
Somewhere around the 45 minute mark, I lapsed into a meat coma. The steak, while totalling 120 ounces (I assume, I forgot my scale) wasn't one massive slab of meat, but two giant 60 ounce steaks stacked on top of each other. Still, considering how taste and size of food items are inversely proportional, the steaks were pretty good.
The last bite for Ian "The Invader" Hickman. Before he started, we learned that if you finish the steak and sides, the meal is NOT free. That was the policy under old management, but our waiter was nice enough to pull some strings and get 10 percent knocked off of our $340 bill. Faced with this new lack of incentive, I made a deal with Ian: If he finished the steak in an hour, I'll pay for half of his $64 tab. If he finishes the steak AND sides in two hours, I'll pay for everything. He finished his 120-ounce steak in 58 minutes and 47 seconds and got his picture on the wall along side this kid.
Upon finishing the steak, Ian opted to build sculptures out of his garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli.
After we left Gregory's, we grabbed some ice cream at Ice Cream World (a triple scoop of Death by Chocolate for me). A full set of pics can be seen here. Also don't forget to check out Jill's write-up about the contest and the video's linked at the bottom of her entry. Next up for the UEPa: The North Philly Cheesesteak Tour (sometime in September).
Below is the news release that was sent to Allentown media in preparation for our Gregory's Steakhouse showdown. I know I omitted some eaters who will also be there, but I had reasons for doing so (y'all know what I'm talking about).
UNITED EATERS OF PENNSYLVANIA VISIT ALLENTOWN STEAKHOUSE TO ATTEMPT GIANT STEAK EATING RECORD ALLENTOWN, Pa. (July 10, 2008) – On Saturday, July 12 at 3 p.m., the United Eaters of Pennsylvania (UEPa) will converge on Gregory's Steakhouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania to devour some of the largest steaks in the world. Ian "The Invader" Hickman will headline the event by attempting to consume Gregory's legendary 120 ounce ribeye, a meal noted on Gregory’s menu as “steak for 4.”
According to UEPa president Dave “Mega Munch” Shoffner, the competitive eating organization is open to “any Pennsylvanian with a love of food and an insatiable appetite.” The group, which meets for eating contests throughout the state, was founded in 2006 and boasts members from all corners of the Commonwealth, including Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
“If a restaurant has a giant food item on the menu, you can bet the UEPa will eat it,” said Shoffner. “We’re just happy the Gregory’s staff agreed to host our meeting. We may eat more food than is humanly possible, but we have very good table manners and we always tip well.” According to the Gregory’s staff, several people have finished the giant steak, but no official timed eating record has been established. Hickman and several members of the UEPa, including honorary member “Sweet” Jill Stoler from Brooklyn, NY, will each try to set the speed mark by consuming the seven-and-a-half pound ribeye in under one hour.
Stoler, the newest UEPa addition and the organization’s lone female member, recently returned from a trip to Japan, where she and Hickman competed against Japan’s finest eaters in a televised competitive eating contest. Hickman’s conquests include 137 chicken wings in 30 minutes, 60 mini whoopie pies in three minutes and five-and-a-half pounds of frozen custard in six minutes. He counts the late comic, John Candy, as his inspiration during Saturday’s massive meal.
“He was a great man and a great eater,” said Hickman, referencing Candy’s steak-eating scene from the film The Great Outdoors. “Meat, gristle and fat; he ate it all and never complained.”
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In related news, I could find only one picture of the giant steaks on Flickr (here) and it's weird, because I used to work with the guy on the left in that picture. I e-mailed him and asked about the steaks. He said the seven guys in his group split four steaks among them and that the steaks were okay ("good steaks, but it's quantity, not quality"). He also mentioned that you don't actually get one giant 120 ounce steak, but several large steaks that equal 120 ounces (kind of a bummer). I'll bring my scale tomorrow.
STEAKS THIS WEEKEND: "EAT IT AND IT'S FREE" SAYS GREGORY'S
The reservation has been set for Gregory's Steakhouse. We're on for this Saturday at 3 pm. I know of about seven people who have told me they're coming, but I made the reservation for 10 people just to be safe.
I spoke with the nice woman who answered the phone and explained our intentions (devouring giant steaks). She said Gregory's DOES have an eat-it-all-and-it's-free offer on the 120 ounce steak. That's good news for my wallet, because now I won't have to pay for Hickman's meal if he finishes the beast.
She said there's no time limit (that she knows of) and if you conquer the steak, you not only get a free meal, you also get your picture on the wall. According to the woman, many people have eaten it, including an 8-year-old (some kid back in 1992 named Joseph Chestnut). She wasn't aware of any speed records, but I'm thinking anything under an hour would be an admirable performance. Now that I know it's free if you eat it, I might actually give it a shot. I mean, if a third-grader can do it, how hard can it be?
It's hard to say what Takeru Kobayashi is capable of doing tomorrow on Coney Island (noon on ESPN and again at 1pm). He hasn't really competed since last July 4th. Forget the sad spectacle that was his nationally televised, injury-plagued MLE Chowdown. It's safe to assume he's healthy again, emotionally and physically, and, with his new ketchup and mustard colored hair, he's hungrier than ever to take back the belt that he wore for the better part of the new millenium.
In tomorrow's shorter 10-minute contest, I see Koby edging Joey Chestnut by a full three hot dogs. 59 to 56. And then, with his legacy intact, the seven-time champion will finally retire.
By the way, there's a hot dog eating game on the ESPN website. It's addictive and fun. Drag and drop hot dogs into the stereotypically slobbish eater's mouth. The faster dogs are worth more points. I downed 90 HDBs. Beat that, Joey Chestnut!
Last year I took a tour of the Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, PA. As many of you may know, they're America's oldest brewery and the makers of the pride of Pennsylvania, Yuengling Lager. During the tour, I shot this two minute video of the bottling operations.