Last Saturday was fun in an interesting way. Philly's Best of Corona, working with Johnnie Excel, set up a cheesesteak eating contest outside of the local Sam's Club. Johnnie's role (mostly) was to draft Southern California's competitive eaters for the cause.
In the first round, we had Frank Paulin, Matt Cohen, Mary Bowers, The Spicialist, and I vying to see who could eat the most 10" cheesesteaks in ten minutes. We functioned as a draw to get people out there, watching and donating. Proceeds would benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The second round was interesting. Would-be participants would make donations in order to play, and their prize was the chance to square off against store champion Johnnie Excel, who won several cheesesteak contests at the Corona location of Philly's Best last year. A special prize awaited anyone who could break Excel's record 7.5 cheesesteaks in 10 minutes.
Well, it turned out that no one could touch Johnnie's 2011 record. The first round of the contest was won by The Spicialist with 5.5 cheesesteaks, edging me out by one sandwich. It wasn't a terible result. This was my first cheesesteak contest and The Spicialist generally holds a distinct advantage in speed over me (choking on my first bite notwithstanding). At one point I was down two whole sandwiches. Congratulations are in order for victory. He scored a gift card.
Johnnie absolutely dominated the second round. He took it home with 6.25 sandwiches, but you can't convince me he was giving it his all. The donors weren't able to threaten his record in the least, but they had a lot of fun, including one man who succumbed to a "liquid laugh." Excel received the other gift card.
It was all for a good cause. This was my first experience with a competitive eating event related to charity and I will make sure it's not my last. In a strange way, this reminds me of that bumper sticker urging you not to make a ride in the hearse the only time you cruise in a Cadillac.
The aggregated results:
1) Johnnie Excel 6.25 cheesesteaks
2) The Spicialist 5.5
3) Naader Reda 4.5
4) Matt Cohen 3.75
5) Frank Paulin 3.5
6) Mary Bowers 2
The rounds were held about 80 minutes apart. Some of us joked that I could have joined the second round, but better judgment prevailed.
Johnnie Excel and I will post videos of the contest to YouTube soon.