September 24, 2014
Some view them as shameless gluttons, symptoms of a culture gone awry. Others see gastro-warriors, heroes capable of ingesting staggering amounts of grub in no time at all. But whether you worship or ridicule competitive eaters, you can’t deny that the “sport” is now firmly part of the zeitgeist.
If you’re hungry for victory – and think you have what it takes to wolf down huge amounts of food – try these 10 food challenges in London for a taste of the Man v. Food lifestyle. From hot wings slathered in naga viper chilli sauce to two-foot sausage rolls, it’ll take a special stomach to take these on.
MeatLiquor, the gloriously sloppy burger restaurant, is as famous for its queues as it is for its food. But not everyone going through the door is seeking a classic burger and fries combo. The restaurant’s Triple Chilli Challenge, one of the most popular food challenges in London, invites participants to gorge on a jalapeno-topped burger, a chilli dog, and a plate of chilli fries – all in less than 10 minutes. Beat it and you’ll get to skip the queue for life.
No one would dare to mistake a classic English fry-up for health food, but the version at Wonder Café, on the outer edge of West London, will make the typical plate seem positively modest. That’s because this one is gut-bustingly excessive: four fried slices, four slices of toast, four eggs, six sausages, six rashers of bacon, six hash browns, four black puddings, tomatoes, beans, and a single mushroom all team up to bring a walloping of gastric distress. No wonder no one’s ever managed to win.
Hot wings are lovely when they’re tinglingly spicy, paired with cooling blue cheese sauce and a sudsy beer. They’re slightly less nice when coated in a sauce made from naga viper chillies, which are among the world’s hottest, clocking in at a staggering 1.6 million Scoville units (that’s just shy of pepper spray, mind). Though you only need to eat six wings in the Red Dog Saloon‘s challenge, you’re also required to don plastic gloves and sign a waiver before tucking in. And not drink anything for five minutes afterwards.
Flavoursome sausage wrapped snugly in flaky pastry, a sausage roll is the perfect pub snack. Well, most sausage rolls. The one at The County Arms is less a snack than a food bomb, measuring in at two feet long – the size of a toddler, in other words. If you beat it (in five minutes, no less!), you get the rather measly prize of a t-shirt – but bragging rights should otherwise suffice.
Taking a page from Man v. Food‘s book, the Man vs. Ribs challenge at Porky’s is equal parts Americana-inspired and utterly gluttonous. Held on Wednesdays, the challenge comprises a double order of ribs and a double order of fries. Scoff down the mountain of food and you won’t just get a t-shirt – you’ll also get a free meal for two if you’re the fastest eater for the month. Because if there’s anything a person wants post-food challenge, it’s more food.
Thought vindaloo was hot? You’ll be entering a new world of pain if you embark on Bengal Village’s phaal curry challenge. Traditionally made from a number of different chillies, phaal curry feels like consuming pure fire – Bengal Village touts it as “the hottest curry in the world,” and makes theirs with the notorious ghost chilli. A box of Rennie afterwards wouldn’t go amiss.
Shepherds Pie is rib-sticking fare: heavy mash and braised meat aren’t favoured amongst dieters. But how about a shepherd’s pie that’s as big as a birthday cake, and weighs four kilos? That’s what the Pride of Paddington is serving up, and thanks to its proportions, no one’s yet managed to take this challenge down.
If Frankenstein were a burger-eater, he’d be a fan of the Beast Burger at The Clapham North. This is a patchwork patty if ever there were one: this unholy creation combines beef, pulled pork, cheese, and a chicken fillet all in one bun – it’s like the turducken of burgers. Manage it and a heavy helping of hand-cut chips in 12 minutes and you’re guaranteed competitive eating infamy.
Daunted by the scale of some of these food challenges in London? Don’t think you could even look at a naga viper chilli, not to mention down six capsicum-drowned wings? Think of the challenge burgers at Tinseltown Diner as the perfect starting point for the competitive eating amateur. Though four patties alongside two sides and fries is by no means small, in the world of competitive eating it’s a modest introduction.
Barbeque is big in London, so it’s only natural that a barbeque eating challenge would pop up sooner or later. The one to beat is at Frankie’s, whose colossal challenge combines a slew of BBQ staples”¦all on one plate. Think you can tackle a pulled pork sandwich, jalapeno cheesy fries, a BBQ burger with cheese and bacon, half a rack of ribs, chicken wings, onion rings, and coleslaw? You’ve got 45 minutes – no sharing allowed.
Have you attempted any of these food challenges in London? Have we missed your favourite food challenge off our list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen