Sarah Tierney takes a close look at the fascinating sport of competitive eating, which is increasingly finding its way onto Australian shores.
Eating contests are more than seeing who can fit the most hot dogs into their gut. They’re becoming some of the toughest competitions in the world. Entrants spend years training their stomachs to stretch so that they can gorge on more than 66 hot dogs in about 12 minutes – all to win some prize money (sometimes up to $10,000).
Yes, eating contests have definitely moved on from pie-eating contests with your mates in the pub. Events are now sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating and there are fierce rivalries between top eaters Joey Chestnut (an American hero) and Takeru “The Tsunami” Kobayashi from Japan. They frequently battle it out around the world, seeing who can eat the most burgers (93 by Chestnut), the most cow brains (57 by Kobayashi) and crazy amounts of other types of food. Eating contests have now hopped the pond and we have a host of competitions here in Australia at annual festivals.
Trying to chow down on large amounts of ice-creams without getting brain freeze is not as easy as it sounds – but it should cure the heat from all the chillies, that’s for sure.
If you think you can handle eating hot and spicy food, then a chilli-eating contest might be for you. Can you eat multiple chillies, straight after each other? If you think you can handle the heat, try the Sawtell Chilli Festival each July on the NSW Central Coast, or the Jindivick Hot Sauce and Fiery Foods Festival in West Gippsland (the current record there is 54 jalapenos and 10 habaneros).
To cool down from eating all those chillies, visit the Armageddon Expo in Melbourne on October 17 for their increasingly popular ice-cream eating contest. Trying to chow down on large amounts of ice-creams without getting brain freeze is not as easy as it sounds – but it should cure the heat from all the chillies, that’s for sure.
Even though it was pushed back to July, the recent Paniyiri Greek Festival in South Brisbane still held their annual olive and honey puff-eating competitions, despite the threat of inclement weather. Of course, if you still prefer pie-eating contests, you can wait until Australia Day where practically every celebration has one (with a lamington eating contest thrown in for dessert).
Keep in mind, though, Australian Traveller holds no responsibility for what goes down (or up) in these contests – so enter at your own risk and don’t try it at home (eating contests can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful).
International Federation of Competitive Eating: www.ifoce.com
Jindivick Hot Sauce and Fiery Foods Festival
Sawtell Chilli Festival: www.sawtellchillifestival.com.au
Armageddon Expo: www.armageddonexpo.com
Paniyiri Greek Festival: www.paniyiri.com
HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you think? Have you ever been in an eating competition? How did you do? Sign up free to the AT Website and have your say by posting a comment below on your favourite eating festivals!