Telegraph reporter takes on Metre Eater challenge at The Barge
In May, he attempted the Man vs Food monster meal at Smokey Joe's in Louth – 2lbs of beef, chilli, cheese and a double portion of fries. Then, the following day, he took on the Surface of the Sun chicken wings challenge at The Barge – six of the most savagely spicy wings ever cooked up in Grimsby. Now, after a two-month break (maybe for health reasons), champion chomper and reporter James Dunn takes on his third Man vs Food Challenge, returning to The Barge for the metre-long sausage Metre Eater challenge.
AS NORTH East Lincolnshire's most experienced Man vs Food challenger (not necessarily factually correct) and certainly (or perhaps probably) its most famous, as you can imagine, I was confident.
I had taken on the monster burger and the chicken wings on consecutive days and after two weeks conquering American portions in Florida, I raised a smug grin when I returned to find the gauntlet had been thrown down yet again.
So, I may not have finished the burger at Smokey Joe's but I ate all the meat which, as anyone would agree, is a worthy effort.
MAYFAIR ESTATE AGENTS
If we cannot find you a tenant within one month, we will find you one for FREE, yes FREE, you will pay no fees
Contact 01472 355553
Terms: Terms and Conditions Apply
Contact: 01472 355 553
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
So, timers at The Barge had stopped timing by the time I finished the Surface of the Sun Wings, minutes after the competitors I was racing against. They were fiddly and I was not told that dexterity would be so important in the challenge (I am notoriously clumsy).
I felt that my record of two failures for no successes was an unfair depiction of my eating ability and I wasn't about to give up and disappoint my fans (which may or may not exist) because it was, arguably poor (my record, not my ability, which is great). This was a chance to prove myself and as you may have guessed...well, I don't want to spoil it just yet.
Head chef Nick Taylor went over the rules of the Metre Eater with me at the bar before the first heat commenced.
Unlike the last challenge – 80 participants attempted the Barge's kilo burger challenge and only one finished – this was all about speed. The first to finish the metre-long sausage was the winner and I was about to hit it like a ravenous cheetah.
Nick said: "We had done spicy, we had done big and now we wanted to go for speed.
"Cooking them was anything but fast – it took over five hours.
"They don't look that big because they are coiled in a spiral so I could get them in the oven but I can assure you there is a whole metre of sausage in every one."
It was told it was big but manageable and I was allowed sauce and a drink to accompany it, so the challenge was on.
There were eight brave competitors on the bench and we each had a coiled sausage in front of us and chef Nick started the clock.
This time I was on form. I had a bit of a slow start, struggling to cut the sausage at first. It seemed like dexterity might be my downfall.
But then, I accelerated like a carnivorous supercar. I started ploughing through it and after a minute I was more than halfway through.
I looked to my left and thought to myself, 'I have the smallest sausage of all the men here', but then on my right was Steve 'Mr Strong' Smith (nickname on account of his T-shirt), who's remainder looked like a tiny cocktail sausage compared to my Bratwurst. And he seemed to be speeding up.
I watched Steve polish off what was left of his sausage with ease and began to lose heart.
Then I looked to my right and saw the remaining six competitors struggling and I picked myself up like the winner I know I am.
In the end, I finished an admirable second in my heat, although my two minutes and 34 seconds was a little outside Steve Smith's one-and-a-half minutes flat.
However, I was told to arrive before 7pm and I had witnessed Steve casually breeze in at about 7.10pm almost instantaneously sitting down to his meat.
Had the rules been properly enforced, you would right now be reading the testimony of a champ. In my mind, having obeyed the rules and put in a sterling effort, I was the real winner. But Steve, 29, of Carnforth Crescent, Grimsby, saw things differently.
"I came, I saw, and I conquered everyone. I didn't think about it, I just ate," said Steve.
"Being the winner is an excellent feeling. You can challenge me at the next Man vs Food here at The Barge if you're man enough.
Steve was defensive about not having taken on the burger challenge, during which the restaurant cooked 160 half-kilo burgers for two events. Only one man emerged victorious, which is an impressive feat for the food which usually, by definition, will have already lost in a Man vs Food contest by becoming 'food' in the first place.
By the final fourth heat, I had left, almost certain that I had seen all the action worth seeing, but manager Emma Barnett later informed me that James Wade smashed Smith's time, guzzling the sausage in just one minute twenty two and taking the title.
Emma said: "Steve 'Mr Strong' Smith was so confident on his time that during the fourth heat, he was outside smoking a victory cigar and basking in his own success. Then, the winner walked outside and casually informed him that he'd been beaten. It seemed to hit him hard."
So after the spiciest wings imaginable, the biggest burger possible and a metre-long sausage, where do you go? It's one for the pudding lovers – the chocolate fudge cake feast. Sixteen portions for £12.95 and it's another race to the finish from 7pm on Wednesday, August 8.