Culinary face off: first-years vs. food

With my first year coming to an end, the prospect of becoming a real adult in just three years is starting to feel real. After coming to terms with the fact that I have absolutely no idea what career I want to pursue, I decided that from now until graduation, I’d try as many jobs as possible. Since clowning, extreme ironing, contact crochet and synchronized swimming didn’t work out, I thought I’d ask my fellow editors what the local food challenges were like before trying my hand at professional eating. I went with Sports Editor Jace Forbes-Cockell ’16 to watch him attempt the Chef’s Hat Ripper Dandy Challenge, and asked his co-Sports Editor Eva Fourakis ’16 to recount performing the Sushi Thai Challenge. Based on their experiences, I don’t think omelettes or Thai food are quite what I want to specialize in, but perhaps I’ll strengthen my New York roots and try the Jack’s Hot Dog Stand Challenge or else join the many Ephs on the wall of the Forge.
-Libby Dvir ’16

Chef’s Hat
Ripper Dandy Challenge

It was a warm, sunny morning on Saturday, and the Record board journeyed north to the Chef’s Hat for a delicious brunch. My task was to attempt the Ripper Dandy challenge: a 12-egg omelet stuffed with homefries, corned beef hash, onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, jalapenos, bacon, sausage, ham and American, provolone, Swiss and cheddar cheeses. A slathering of Hollandaise sauce topped it off, and the waitress dropped off three slices of Texas toast on the side. On the line were a free meal and a T-shirt, but most importantly, my dignity. I volunteered myself as tribute, allowing the Record to use my body in the name of science. That morning, my 155-lb frame was up against five pounds of food and a 30-minute timer; these were true Man v. Food conditions. When I looked at the Wall of Fame, I saw that only two people had prevailed in the history of the challenge, and they were both much, much larger than I. The dish came out, and I swear they put a full onion, an entire pepper and half a pig in there. The waitress told me the best tactics were to eat quickly, since after 20 minutes, my stomach would tell me to stop. I, using my vast experience and general expertise in food challenges, decided to ignore this advice, citing the old story of the tortoise and the hare. My quest was further inhibited by the outrageous amounts of grease and butter that covered the omelet and made it impossible to eat. Midway through the challenge, I started to falter. My bites became smaller and slower, my stomach fought my mouth with every chew. I kept fighting until the end, although with around seven minutes left, my bites became so feeble that there was barely any food on my very large spoon. In the end, I got through about half of the monstrous omelet, which for a kid my size, was quite an accomplishment.

Sushi Thai Challenge

One evening, my entry went to Sushi Thai to celebrate a birthday. While waiting, we began to talk about the Sushi Thai challenge. The Sushi Thai staff is infamous for filling water glasses the minute they are empty, so some mischievous students experimented with contests and dares playing on this phenomenon, and the Sushi Thai Challenge was born. There are various interpretations of the challenge because it’s not an official Sushi Thai-sanctioned contest, but I chose to take on the variation where the end goal is to finish all of the food on your plate while prohibited from eating unless your water glass is empty. When I first heard about the challenge, I didn’t think it would be too hard to complete. I figured I’d wolf down most of my food before the staff even realized my glass was empty. Boy, was I wrong. I made the mistake of drinking some water before my crispy chicken pad thai arrived. By the time my food was brought to the table, I had already downed two glasses of water. As I shoveled food into my mouth after chugging my first glass of water post the meal’s arrival, I realized I needed a new strategy because the staff stayed true to their reputation and really did refill my glass with even the slightest drop in water level. I began to try to hide my glass when the waitress came around, holding it between my hands and hoping she didn’t notice it was drained. She did. She always did. My friends hurt more than they helped, asking me if I needed more water every time our waitress was within earshot. After a while, my glass was so full of ice that I thought I was in the clear, free to shovel food into my mouth between swallowing the feeble amounts of water the waitress could fit into my glass. This was the moment when I became convinced that the staff is familiar with the challenge as a waiter came to fill my glass, noticed my cup was full of ice and offered me a new glass, into which he made sure to pour only water. I’m proud to say that despite the inordinate amount of water I had to drink that night, I completed the Sushi Thai challenge. Twelve glasses of water, no bathroom breaks and one entire platter of crispy chicken pad thai later, I stumbled out of Sushi Thai, filled to the brim but victorious nonetheless.