Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How three food writers fared in a competitive meatball-eating competition - Pegasus News

In short: Eating three pounds of meatballs hurts.

Cody Wardlaw, Rich Vana, and Justin Hutchison competed in the challenge.

Photo by Justin Hutchison

Cody Wardlaw, Rich Vana, and Justin Hutchison competed in the challenge.

â€" Entrée Dallas understands the exception some might take with restaurants holding food challenges â€" especially those that measure success by quantity of food consumed. Those that describe the practice as tastelessly excessive are correct. With that said, we encourage both of our readers to maintain moderate, active lifestyles, not exceed more than two glasses of wine per day, and try to sustain reasonable caloric intake. Through what can be described only as a shared personality flaw, the three men in this story have set many examples of what can happen when entertainment takes precedence over reasonable behavior.

Please consider this one of those times.

It’s bright and sunny outside, but inside Kenny’s Italian Kitchen in Addison the feeling is ominous â€" at least, for a few young men who have recently arrived. It is 4:45 in the afternoon; the dining room is empty and a few patrons sit at the bar. The three men have scheduled this time intentionally, that they might precede the dinner and curious â€" or perhaps judgemental â€" eyes. The fewer to witness the impending carnage, the better.

They are all Entree Dallas contributors â€" Cody Wardlaw, Justin Hutchison, and Rich Vana â€" here to undertake the Meatball Challenge: For $1 each, a challenger buys a meatball. Each meatball weighs in at 1/4 of a pound. If one of them is to exceed the record for most meatballs consumed in one sitting (17), he will get them all for free. As they settle in, their waiter reiterates that the current record totals somewhere a little more than 4.25 pounds. If each of them is to break the record, they’ll need to consume 54 meatballs (13.5 pounds). They start by ordering 30 (7.5 pounds). Each participant was asked to take notes at particular milestones. What follows is their recollection of the challenge:

The meatballs arrive

Justin: I’m feeling positive, with a generally good outlook on life. I’m looking forward to the conspicuous consumption of huge amounts of delicious meat products.

Cody: Ten meatballs per person have just arrived at our table. In order to have a fighting chance against Justin, I will have to at least finish this plate. I’m pretty sure that this is going to come down to Justin and me. Rich, while a lover of all foods, is just not the eating contest type. He’s too svelte awesome and womanly super cool, but nonetheless a decent the best editor ever.

Rich: Wow, I’m really going to enjoy eating these. I may be skinny, but it’s a sneaky skinny. You know who else was skinny? Kobayashi. These guys have no idea what they’re in for.

After four meatballs

Justin: These have a good flavor, and I’m feeling spunky. I came here to win. Not only is this record mine, but I’m coming for you, Chestnut.

Cody: The first three went down relatively easy, but I realize a mistake I have made: I drank a 32 oz. Gatorade and four large glasses of water two hours before the contest â€" you know, to prepare. I have already had to go to the bathroom twice.

Rich: I’m getting a little full. Slightly uncomfortable. I’m not going to win; I had no idea what I was in for. But I’m going to press on â€" brave face and all that. Ultimately, though, this will end up being a contest between Hutch and Cody.

The first plate of meatballs didn’t stand a chance. Unless they were in front of Rich.

The first plate of meatballs didn’t stand a chance. Unless they were in front of Rich.

After six meatballs

Cody: Problems are starting, and I’ve got three primary thoughts running through my head:

  • My sinuses are filled with meat.
  • I could stab Rich with my knife in one quick movement for coming up with this idea, but said movement would cause collateral damage by way of me not being able to contain the food I have consumed.
  • I need to pee (for the fourth time since arriving), but can’t get up for the same reason listed above.

The first plate of meatballs didn’t stand a chance. Unless they were in front of Rich.

After eight meatballs â€" Rich is out

Justin: I am getting a little full, but I still feel like I can do this. It’s definitely sinking into my belly like a brick. Eight bricks, actually.

Cody: I am convinced that everything I eat and drink for the rest of my life is going to taste like meatballs and marinara.

The home stretch

Photo, taken 2012-08-27 14:06:38

Justin: At 10 meatballs, I realize I may have made a mistake. What choices have I made in life that have brought me to this point? Listening to Rich was the biggest problem. After 11 and 12 â€" I just keep the strategy to stay one ahead of Cody. I am so ready to quit, but apparently he wants to be a rock star.

Cody: After eight meatballs, as I stared in envy at Justin’s empty plate, I thought to myself, I could quit. Just go home. I don’t feel all that bad. There’s a small possibility that I may even be able to stay up for an hour when I get home and not immediately fall into a meat coma. But Justin’s empty plate got the better of me. I quickly scarfed down the last two on my plate and reached for the two abandoned balls on Rich’s plate. Justin immediately ordered two more for him and two more for me.

As I finished my 11th and gazed at my 12th my second wind completely left my body. I knew at that moment the 12th would be my last. Justin cut up his 13th and finished it in a flash. I just kept staring at Number Twelve. Justin’s lead looked insurmountable. It was. Twenty minutes later, my twelfth was gone and I was finished. Justin had beaten me, just like he said he would.

Cody’s life lessons and concluding notes

Some notes about my drive home and that evening:

  • I threw up behind Logan’s two minutes after leaving the restaurant.
  • Final bathroom count: six, including one in the parking lot of the Dart Station.
  • My urine smelled like meatballs for the next 24 hours.
  • I laid sideways on the couch for two full hours afterwards.
  • I slept off and on, waking up for bathroom breaks twice in seven hours.
  • My girlfriend thinks I am disgusting.
  • I will say this, though: Kenny’s make a delicious meatball. You just probably don’t need to eat three pounds’ worth.
Entree Dallas
Pegasus News Content partner - Entree Dallas

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