It’s the ultimate Man vs Food Challenge: Eat the ‘PHAT Bastard’, a 1.8kg burger laden with enough protein, carbs and fat to stop the hearts of a nation.
It’s all happening at Longboards Laidback Eatery and Bar, where Manager Patrick Hanrahan, Justin Allie, and Chef Laurence Bowers (who concocted the burger recipe) dreamed up the challenge as a unique attention grabber for their burger and beer bar.
Tonight’s the grand final for the 2013 victors, three of the nine competitors who have previously succeeded at the challenge. The scores of losers don’t get a second chance!
The table is set, onlookers primed, and challengers once more briefed on the rules. All three know the game, but today it’s the time that counts. Litres of water and soft drink are on hand, plus a bucket each just in case… First one to finish within the rules wins $500. Not bad, plus your meal paid for!
Isaac, Anton and Daniel take their seats. Ready!
Anton, the big guy from the US seated in the middle, is the record holder at 18 min 29 seconds. My favourite, he looks like he could fit this burger in no worries. Daniel’s a dark horse in this race. He’s thin and looks like he could do with a good feed.
Isaac, the kid from the Central NSW Coast, is so young his father has to sign off on him. Big breakfast eater, I hear. More keen than experienced, I reckon.
The burgers appear; monsters! Normally priced at $32, the PHAT is a 900g wagyu burger, 8 woven rashers of bacon, 8 battered onion rings, 200g pulled pork, 6 slices of melted cheese, salad (for colour), coleslaw and mayo, all sandwiched together in a dinner plate sized cob loaf, served with a side of chips. Doesn’t sound too bad if you say it quickly, but this is one mother of a burger, gargantuan in proportions.
The thought crosses my mind that this would feed 100 Biafrans for a day, or me for a week. 9,000kj! So First World! Just a waft as they’re carried past and I’m overcome! But not our contestants. They eye their burgers off greedily, nervously awaiting the competition.
The bell marks the start and they plunge in, teeth hitting the bun, the first sprays of sauce flying. Isaac, the youngest, is eager but anxious, eyes darting across to check the others’ eating methods and progress. It’s torrid! They divide the burger between their two plates, and grab at the food. Seconds count, as knives and forks are discarded – not enough traction; mostly it’s down to hands grabbing, left plate, right plate, crushing and lumping the food, shoving it into mouths, smearing across faces, sloshing down some water between gulps, standing up to digest without stopping, bending as hands smash, jab, cram, all the while chomping and swallowing…They’re carnivores in a feeding frenzy, machines! Manners shoved aside, it’s about making the most food disappear in the shortest space of time.
Despite his size, Anton’s struggling, his plate still half full. Isaac and Daniel are gorging head to head, sharks chasing the prize. But then Isaac stands. It’s all too much. The show’s almost over. He looks downwards to the bucket and I turn away. Anton’s struggling too, engines slowing, but Daniel’s powering on.
Like a true competitor, Isaac swallows, sits down and resumes his feeding frenzy, in for the final kill.
A minute later it’s all over; almost an anticlimax, with the kid powering home in 9 minutes 34 seconds, just in front of Daniel. Isaac stands, triumphant. He’s smashed the record in half. All those 37 weetbix mornings have paid off…
“I hit a wall and felt really sick,” Isaac tells me later, “but I just kept rolling.”
Somehow, at the end of this challenge, I’m the one who feels nauseated. There’s food strewn on the table, across faces, mouths, hands…I don’t think I can face food for hours! And Isaac?
“Now I feel full but really good,” he grins. Maybe I would too if I’d just won $500!
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