Continuing the competitive food-eating challenges to raise funds for Carroll’s Kitchen’s Thanksgiving food drive, a pizza-eating contest was held on Sunday, Nov. 8 in the parking lot of Bistro 25 East.
Ryan Carroll, the namesake of the charity and owner of Bistro 25 East, was in great spirits as he coached the 17 participants for the pizza-eating contest. “The buy in is $50, with first prize of $500, and the rest goes towards turkeys and our 1,000 prepared meals for Thanksgiving,” said Carroll.
Vespa Pizza, a longtime collaborator of Carroll’s Kitchen, donated over 20 pies for the occasion. “I had offered to pay, but they wouldn’t hear of it,” said Carroll.
Previously, Carroll’s Kitchen and Vespa Pizza worked together to prepare over 300 meals for a senior-living facility, Siena Village.
Prior to the start of the contest, Carroll filmed all entrants to talk up their eating game and contestants were confident, declaring times as low as three minutes to finish an entire pizza pie.
As the sun set on the parking lot, the contest began. The rules were to finish an entire pizza (all eight slices, all crusts) in under seven minutes, and first place went to the person who finished first.
Kevin Denley, who had participated in the pumpkin pie contest in October and finished at an impressive second place, was enthusiastic in this round of competitive eating, as he had not eaten a hearty meal beforehand this time.
About half of the contestants chose to double stack their slices (placing one cheese-side of a slice next to another) to shorten their chewing and folding time.
This method proved costly, as the doubling caused many to have to take longer breaks or ingest more liquid (soda and water was provided by Carroll’s Kitchen).
The winner was YouTube phenomenon Wayne Algenio, who had won the pumpkin pie-eating contest as well.
Algenio’s technique set him apart from the other competitors, as he went by single slices and soaked his pizza crusts in water. “I soaked them in water to soften them up and make it easier to chew,” said Algenio. “The trick with pizza is to combat the doughyness of the pie.”
Algenio is also a former Guinness World Record holder for most hot peppers eaten in one sitting: an impressive 119 grams, the equivalent of 23 peppers.
Jimmy Purificatl, who was only one slice behind Algenio, often competes with him. “I definitely consider myself an amateur,” said Purificatl, who coaches other competitive eaters and has participated in contests with pumpkin pies, zeppoles, and hot dogs.
“I definitely do better with sweets than savory contests,” said Purificatl. “The pizza was delicious, but when you’re cooling down, it’s harder to chew.”
To prepare, Purificatl does not eat for 24 hours beforehand.
Multiple media outlets were on hand to live-stream the event on Facebook and social media reception was supportive of the competitors.