Drive In, Drive Out
Here is a rather short trip report to New Mexico - September 22nd & 23rd - for the GoldenPalace.net World Green Chile Grilled Cheese Eating Championship.
I got a Chevy Aveo from Enterprise and headed to Santa Fe. T, her mom, and Shamalama were there. We'd meet up Friday, and go to the competition on Saturday.
Crossing into New Mexico.
Nice crepuscular rays. For the meteorologist in us all.
This is the hotel in Santa Fe. You can barely make out the snow on the mountains in the background.
I don't know that I've ever seen this sign:
And look here...
There's the sign in the foreground, and then another sign maybe 50 yards later.
But you do get some warning about what's coming up:
Fortunately I saw nobody. Maybe they were too tired.
In Santa Fe just about everything is in a faux-pueblo building. The McDonald's:
A photo of an aspen tree against a deep blue sky.
Another aspen, with the sun shining through.
As for the contest, due to some logistical problems I did not have my digital camera and Tommye had the digital video camera but I was not able to warn her about how when you use the zoom it totally blurs the picture. She zoomed. It did get good sound, though! And with Mike Castellano tearing it up on stage that sound is gold! Gold! Mike kicks ass!
So there were 10 competitors. Four New Mexico locals, Allan, Russ, Mongo, Rich, Joey and me. Russ & Mongo are from the Denver area, too. That's cool. (If either read this, send me an email - iamskinnyboy at gmail dot com). Intros. On my right is Mongo, and on my left is ... Rich! WOW! For someone who has been following the scene for a few years, well, being at the table and *next* to him is pretty cool! In other competitions I have been at the table with Sonya, Pat, Badlands, and others, but getting to stand, and elbow, and eat next to HIM is nothing short of a moment. I cannot tell you how big of a Locust fan I am! I think I am only an even bigger fan of the lovely Carlene! I will strive to have him on my left and HER on my right! One day. One day.
The contest finished: Joey 34.5, Rich 28, Mongo 14, me & Allan 13.5, and on down. But did I mention Rich was on my left!
An' Another Thing
In the past couple of days I've been asked more times than usually "how do you stay in shape" or "how do you stay skinny" or something else along those lines. I am sure a lot of us get that every now and then. Here's a clue:
I got back around 11:30 Saturday night. I was at 24 Hour by 7:45 Sunday morning. It's really a very simple equation. To be sure, that I've been working out since I was 10 has much to do with it. But also eating well. Eat breakfast every day. If you don't you'll be sunk. Get off the couch. You can relax when you're dead. Life is too short. Just Do It.
1. Joey 34.5
2. Rich 28
3. "Mongo" Marquez 14
4T. Me 13.5
4T. Allan Jones 13.5
A couple more up and comers, and some locals.
Another great show by Michael Castellano. I will have video up soon. Super venue, super crowd, I think everyone had a good time.
What Would You Say
I ran across this nugget today. Check out this post from early April. At the time I was working on hot dog buns. This has to be one of my favorite moments that I have caught on video!
The grid above is a display of my placings in the 10 IFOCE competitions in which I've competed. The purple cones are the total number of competitors at each contest. The light blue cones represent my result. The smaller the light blue cone the better.
Notice the result from 1/21/2006. That one I call the Barrick Burger Beating.
I'll Back You Up
If you have read about the "fan" mail I received, you must read Dave "Mega Munch" Shoffner's take on the whole thing. Pretty funny! And be sure to check out his other posts, too.
I start every morning by making a few rounds of different sites, and Mega Munch's is one of them. His writing is great, I can relate to a lot of it, and who doesn't like to begin the day with a hearty chuckle! Keep it up, MM!
Some people may have read the article but for anyone who could not get their hands on the actual newspaper, below is a photo of the front page of the Sunday Denver Post showing the placement of the article. It is below the fold but unbelievably prominent to be sure.
Not too shabby. But a few days later I heard a rumor about the EARLY EDITION of the Sunday Denver Post. Bigger photo, they said. I contacted Kevin Simpson (Denver Post Staff Writer, all around super guy, and he's now the Post's Senior Competitive Eating Analyst). Kevin sent me a copy of the early edition.
The early edition of the Sunday Denver Post. That's really cool! Above the fold!
Woohoo! I found a link to a newspaper article that OJ at eatfeats.com did not find first! Casual observers may not know the significance of that, but it's big! OJ seems to be able to find anything of interest to competitive eating fans, and the site OJ runs is hands-down the best place to keep updated with the latest news about what's going on in the competitive eating world!
I found it only because a friend who was in Lincoln the same day of the kolache competition (they went to the Nebraska game) sent me the paper.
Click here to read the article.
Below are scans of 3 photos in the print edition but they were not in the online article.
Hunger for the Great Light
Pay for What You Get
Pantala Naga Pampa
So the other day my wife's mother bought us a new vacuum, a Dyson DC07 Animal. I'm sure you've seen the commercials with Mr. Dyson, talking about how it can "never lose suction" and it sucks up stuff "at 100,000 times the force of gravity". I don't know if either of those claims are possible, and I was skeptical about the whole thing, but I must say this vacuum kicks ass!
A vacuum usually would not excite me too much, but we have two dogs. Two pretty hairy dogs who both shed quite a bit.
Above is a photo of a rug we have. On the left side you can see some hair and other stuff that makes it dirty. We did one pass with the Dyson on the right side. Before, we more or less accepted the left side as clean enough. But look at the Dyson side!
Big Eyed Fish
This is a photo I had not seen until last night. I was on the New Mexico State Fair site. This photo is from the GoldenPalace.net Grilled Cheese Eating Contest at New Mexico State Fair on 9/24/2005. It was my second IFOCE competition. The winner of the event, Leland Collins, is at the far end of the photo. There could not have been a better guy to win that day - he does construction in Durango, Colorado. He had driven down with his wife and daughter to go to the fair. He said it best: "I was traveling and I was hungry."
Click here for the full video of the 8 minute competition at the GoldenPalace.net World Kolache Eating Championship at the Nebraska State Fair.
Anyone Seen the Bridge?
The video of the eater introductions from the GoldenPalace.net World Kolache Eating Championship at the Nebraska State Fair can be viewed here. Castellano. Good stuff.
The Dreaming Tree
After the kolache championship Goldenpalace.net sponsored another amateur grilled cheese eating contest with the potential for someone to win $100,000. There was no payout but it was fun to watch the action and see Mike Castellano tear it up! Of the 10 minute contest I captured 4:45 of the last 5 minutes. See it here.
A few of the beauties Mike cracked off:
Chief on his ninth! Is he stashing them anywhere? He's showing a little bit of a plumber's crack back here -- he might have a grilled cheese samwich or two back there.
(Teenage Wasteland begins) It's a Grilled Cheese Wasteland.
It's like an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting up here, but with grilled cheese. One bite at a time, ladies and gentlemen.
It's an absurd world we live in, ladies and gentlemen. Our focus on what people are wearing on the red carpet, hot button issues, why I'm dressed in a $2000 suit at a state fair doing an eating competition. But this is America.
I had hoped the trip to Lincoln was to be the first stop on a weekend double - Lincoln on Saturday to be followed by a Goldenpalace.net competition in Denver on Sunday. Unfortunately the Denver date never materialized. But Lincoln was still on, and the location was just close enough to allow for a road trip.
Friday T & I get the car, take the doggies to their camp, and finally get on the road about noon. No big happenings on the drive. Lots of this.
On the way we make one stop.
There are a couple Taco John's in the Denver area, but going to one there would not be quite right. I had left the camera in the car, and by the time I thought about it I was enjoying the beef and potato burrito too much to stop and go get the camera. But even without photos the burrito and the potato oles were quite delicous.
Onward. More of the same. We drive in to Kearney at about 7. From here we'd have about 2 hours to Lincoln. We decide we could do that, or go to Cabela's in Kearney (there's no IKEA this time), find a place to sleep, and go to Lincoln tomorrow. We do that. Only we didn't know Cabela's closed at 8. No worries though. I guess Tommye is not much in to shopping. After driving that much.
Leaving Cabela's, we decide to eat.
I had heard about Runza, but never visited. Between the Potato Oles and Runza I believe my fried food quota for the day is filled.
We go searching for a place to sleep. Kearney has the expected Holiday Inn, Motel 8, and Hampton Inn, but it also has the Western Motel! To me these trips to competitions should be about the experience and about doing stuff you would not normally do. Going to Lincoln, Nebraska to eat kolaches. Going to Las Vegas to eat grilled cheese. Sleeping in the Raleigh-Durham airport. Mall of America. And staying in the Western Motel.
The next morning it is on to Lincoln. Fuel -
On the way I ponder out loud. There's a Toyota dealer billboard, a Ford, Honda. I wonder if there is a Lincoln Lincoln.
We get to the Fair. Raining. Check in with Mike and Matt. Check out the animals. A little before the contest the rain stops, and the skies somewhat clear. Stage is set, a crowd begins to form. Intros. Crowd keeps getting bigger. MCastellano is on fire!
Participants, in order of announcement:
Jason Smith (30), 210 lbs, 6-2, 25
Mike Drasen, 170lbs, 5-10, 39
Brent "Zero" Curtis, 240, 6-2, 33
Mike Nafziger, 335lbs, 6-1
Jason Erb (35) 228lbs, 5-10
Frank Wach (26)
I did not get pictures, but Tommye rolled the video on the scene. I will get that up.
In the weeks before this event I had some kolaches from the Kolache Factory in Denver. In Lincoln the kolaches were quite a bit more airy but larger. And cherry-filled*. The kolaches in Denver were 3 ounces, so I will say in Lincoln there were, with the liquid, 4 kolaches in a pound. Bertoletti consumed about 11 pounds in 8 minutes. Whoa. I was glad one of the top guys was there to provide measurement to what us others did.
Nafziger, Amiel, Varuch 19
Jason Smith 17
Brent "Zero" Curtis 9
Mike Drasen 8
After us, Goldenpalace.net sponsored another amateur grilled cheese contest. I had a great time getting to actually watch a contest and getting to watch Mike work it was fun.
With that, we get back in the car. Get gas.
Nebraska has bountiful amounts of corn, and some great looking potato trees.
(* - just my luck. When Tommye went by the Kolache Factory one day to pick up some kolaches she called me. "What do you want?". "Maybe lemon, apricot, even apple. But NO CHERRY".)