Can you beat Smokey Joe's monster Man vs Food challenge?
Three buns, 2lbs of beef, cheese, chilli, and a double portion of fries. This is the monster meal that Louth restaurant Smokey Joe's is offering customers in the Man vs Food challenge that helps the restaurant get through 170lbs of beef every week. Diners have an hour to take on the monstrous task and, although hundreds of diners have attempted it, only six have succeeded. Unfortunately, reporter James Dunn was not one of them.
MAN vs Food seems quite a simple challenge.
Generally the food I eat is dead and still so I would usually back myself – a living human being – in such a contest. Certainly I could beat food at PlayStation, pool, ping pong, and almost every other contest – except this one.
I had walked in with confidence and bravado but when the staff at Smokey Joe's brought out my meal – which I was expected to eat, just to clarify – I instantly found my confidence deflating.
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The mammoth burger had four half-pound meat patties smothered in cheese, three bread buns, a healthy serving of chilli and a sack of potatoes disguised as a portion of chips – all served on a busy platter that one might usually use to serve a roast dinner to a family of five.
It was nearly a foot high and stood on the plate and seemingly taunting me – so I got stuck in.
Six lads behind me had just ordered the same thing so I set out to compete against them, realising that the portion might not be a realistic adversary – although my colleague warned me against such a defeatist attitude. However, first, I got a few words of advice from manager Johnny Shields.
"People always start off confident – then they fail. Hundreds have tried and only six have succeeded – although two of those then had dessert.
"It's the bun that gets people. There are three layers of dense bread on that thing. We don't want everyone doing it now, do we?"
I started strong, munching my way through the immense meat patties, mindful to add bread to every forkful after Johnny's advice. Ten minutes into the challenge, I had chomped through two of the buns and two-and-a-half out of the four burgers and was daring to dream that I might conquer the mighty burger.
"The key is not to stop – just keep on going", Johnny said, and that was exactly what I did. However, just half a burger later, I was in real trouble.
I glanced over my shoulder to see how my competitors at the next table were faring and it was not an encouraging sight. The six men looked sluggish and lethargic, slumped over their plates of unfinished fries and buns with scraps of beef strewn across their plates – but I ploughed on.
Twenty minutes into the challenge, I had just one burger, one bun, and the majority of the fries to go – but I was not in a good place. Smelling defeat, I decided to finish the final burger and see if I could handle the remaining bun and chips a little later.
The burger went, as did some fries and although I pecked at the remainder, the staff knew that the game was up.
"Would you like me to take the plate away?" I was asked, but I defiantly refused, not willing to accept that I was on my last legs.
"We have seen the signs before – but I'll leave it there for now," was the reply.
With seven minutes left to complete the challenge, I finally admitted defeat and went to see how my self-appointed rivals had done. After a quick plate inspection, I decided it was a draw (they might not agree).
Father and son Charlie Hyland, 46, and Tom Hyland, 18, seemed to have led the pack. Charlie, with just two buns left, said: "I reckon it's the bread that does it and when the burgers go cold, it gets a lot more difficult.
"We all came convinced we were going to do it but it was too much to handle in the end.
"I've had a cup of tea and a coffee all day in preparation and still couldn't manage it."
However, Tom – who had just a few scraps of beef left on the plate – thinks he put in a better performance, with a much more relaxed approach.
"I came here to beat my dad and that's what I did so I'm happy."
But as I had finished talking to Tom, news of a winner swept around the restaurant – 26-year-old Dave Parker had conquered the infamous Man vs Food Challenge.
How did Dave feel after such an achievement you ask?
"Terrible" is the answer.
"I had hoped some of my mates might do it, but no, it was just me. I can imagine people who haven't seen me since school reading this and thinking 'Dave, still fat then'."
Well, Dave might not think so, but he was a hero in the eyes of at least seven men in that restaurant on that fateful night – and I was one of them. Dave, I salute you.
Want to take on the Man vs Food challenge? Head to Smokey Joe's, on Eastgate, Louth, for the epic challenge which costs £15.99 – but if you finish it, you get your meal for free!
Keep checking your Grimsby Telegraph to hear about James Dunn's next Man vs Food challenge – super-spicy chicken wings at The Barge. Do you have a challenge for one of our reporters? If so, contact the newsdesk on 01472 372236.