Eventually, if you write for a paper, you get to the point where you’re a z-class celebrity. You’d have a long way to go to reach the dizzying heights of an Abe Vigoda or Don Knotts, but people invite you to do things. I was invited to be the special guest at the Beermen vs. Food event at BQM Ossington.
Now, I’m something of a food network junkie, so I’ve seen a huge number of episodes of Man vs. Food. I think it’s a terrifying glimpse into the gluttony that’s only possible in North America. On the other hand, I can’t stop watching the thing because the host is pretty entertaining and the challenge sections are on par with a trainwreck. You can’t look away. Will Adam Richman finish the 7 pound burrito from hell? Will he be able to finish a pound of wings slathered in “STUPID SAUCE” within 15 minutes? The spicy tuna roll challenge? A steak the size of Montana? Will Adam Richman pass away from a cardiac arrest before the end of the fourth season? The answers are no, yes, no, yes and only time will tell.
Rob “Stuntman” Morra (ask him to do a stuntman for old time’s sake next time you see him at a bar) asked me whether I’d be interested in coming down and taking part in the challenge. After all, it was the main attraction for a charity event. Cameron’s and Beau’s pints were 5 dollars all night long and a dollar from each pint was going to Second Harvest. It’s a charity that delivers fresh surplus food to people who need it. I won’t comment on the irony of a burger eating contest to represent that charity. I probably don’t need to.
So, I trekked down to BQM, Survivor blasting “Eye of the Tiger” through my headphones. The prize for this one was basically bragging rights, which as we all know, are more important than trophies and continued existence (at least in parts of the south).
Let me introduce you to the competition:
Rob Morra is with Beau’s. You may know him from various beer events in the Toronto area, or from his victory at the 2009 All-Toronto Beard competition.
Jason Ellsmere is from Cameron’s. His sideburns are truly majestic. Not as majestic as, say, a bald eagle swooping through a rainbow, but they’re on par with those of many alt-country rockers.
Jason Rees is a professional BBQ guy. His website is here. He’s a bottomless pit of hunger, potentially driven by Skynet.
Saeed is the owner of BQM, and an all around nice guy.
And then there was Glenn.
So, we sat there, gathered around the long table, but none of us really knew what the challenge entailed. Even Rob, who was instrumental in organizing the thing didn’t really know. The first sign that there was obviously something amiss was when the server brought out shots of Campari. “To open your esophagus. It’s an aperitif,” he said.
That’s a bad sign, incidentally, when you need liquor to prepare to eat something.
We sat there, determining exactly how it was going to work. Fortunately, there was a Cameron’s side of the table and a Beau’s side of the table and the decision was made that we would go three at a time. We had just about settled this when the burgers came out of the kitchen.
What you’re looking at there is a Double Riverside burger. The Riverside burger has Bacon, mozzarella, BQM BBQ sauce, onion ring & garlic aioli. That sounds good, actually, except for the fact that in this case, you get two of all those things on one bun. And you can put your stereopticon away, because that’s two of them. No one wants to speculate exactly what the calorie content of that behemoth is, let alone what it might be for two of them. I certainly don’t want to know.
And so, after some searching for a cell phone with a stopwatch, the Cameron’s team started in on their burgers.
Jason Ellsmere decided on compacting the burger down as far as possible. Saeed decided to pace himself and picked away at a level of one burger, working his way through to the second one. Jason Rees, cybernetic porksmith that he is, decided simply to try and get bacon into every bite.
We all sort of knew that we were in trouble when Rees decided to pause to take a phone call. Probably someone calling to tell him the location of Sarah Connor. He finished at 7:58 after taking the time to tell them he’d call back when he finished the second burger. Jason Ellsmere finished somewhere in the 14 minute range, while Saeed tapped out upon nearing the completion of the second burger.
Now, I’ve never eaten competitively. But, like I said, I’d seen Adam Richman do it a lot. He usually plans out a strategy in order to beat the clock. The Beau’s side of the table went with this concept. Rob Morra decided to tackle both burgers at once from the top down, leaving the last patty and the buns until the end. It’s a good idea, but unsound since you’re leaving all the carbs for the end. That can be a slog. Glenn, uh, well Glenn just sorta decided to brute force the thing, but eventually tapped out citing the protein bar he had had just hours before. I opted for the same top down approach as Saeed.
Now, two double Riverside burgers is something like two and a quarter pounds of food, with about 24 ounces of that being protein. I was going along pretty good. I had the first burger down in four minutes and I looked like I was on pace to beat Rees. And then, about halfway through the second onion ring on the second burger, I started to hit the wall. Rob Morra also looked to be doing pretty well up until the six minute mark. He hit a much larger wall. I finished at 11:23 and Rob finished somewhere around the 28:00 mark.
Now, I have learned two things from this challenge:
1) All of the contestants have what Gorilla Monsoon would have called intestinal fortitude. Except for Jason Rees, who is actually some kind of burger eating cyborg from the future that comes fully equipped with Call Waiting.
2) I’m never, ever, nerver, eneveler doing that again. Even now I can feel the meat coma setting in, but before the meat coma come the meat sweats. This is actually a thing. Go ahead. Google it. Ugh. Unpleasant, yes?
Congratulations to all involved, except for Jason Rees who is, as I mentioned, from the future and therefore knew that he would win and therefore does not need our pathetic hu-man congratulations. Hopefully, we will have helped people who need food to eat. Hopefully, Jason Rees will not show up at their door in a leather jacket and force feed them a double Riverside burger.