Competition Gets Fierce at San Gennaro’s Annual Cannoli Eating Contest

The annual San Gennaro cannoli eating contest returned early Friday afternoon after a year off. The objective? Ten competitors were given eight minutes to scarf as many full-sized Ferrara cannolis as possible.
Congrats go to current Guinness World Record holder Wayne Wonder, who beat out the competition by a long shot. Check out scenes from the ricotta-fueled competition here.
Photos by Chona Kasinger for the Village Voice



Could This Be the Biggest Fried-Chicken Sandwich Ever?

The fried-chicken sandwich may be enjoying a renaissance in 2015 — the Fuku phenomenon is the latest example — but Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken (28 East 1st Street; 212-228-0404) in the East Village has decided to go medieval with its recently released Smorgasbird. The jaw-unhinging, double-decked creation is stuffed with every side dish you can think of — and a few more you can’t. Although simply fitting the sandwich in your mouthhole is impressive enough, if you can manage to defy physics and finish the thing in under five minutes, you’ll be entered to win a heaping platter of even more food. Either way, just by ordering the Smorgasbird, you’re helping to raise money and awareness to fight multiple sclerosis — 20 percent of all sales goes to the National MS Society (the sandwich is available until the end of July).

The demented brainchild of Blue Ribbon owners Bruce and Eric Bromberg, the Smorgasbird is built upon two fried-chicken cutlets. Then, in between heavy-duty brioche buns, goes smoked bacon, melted cheddar, sour cream, pickled peppers, french fries, BBQ chicken, and Blue Ribbon Special Sauce. Lastly, there’s grilled pineapple, lettuce, and tomato, for your health.

Speaking of health, Bruce Bromberg told the Voice why taking on multiple sclerosis is such a personal and vital mission for him and his restaurant. “Blue Ribbon has been riding as a team for Bike MS for the last six years and counting,” he said. “We started riding to support a dear friend diagnosed with the disease and have continued riding together to raise funds for this important cause. Adding a charitable component to the Smorgasbird sandwich seemed like a natural extension of our dedication to the MS Society.”

If you’re going to be a glutton, you might as well be a glutton for charity. And given its exhaustive list of ingredients, the Smorgasbird is something of a value at $15; it’s certainly enough food to satisfy two grown adult appetites at lunchtime. But if you insist on channeling your inner Joey Chestnut, tackling the five-minute challenge could net you your own Hail Mary Platter — 25 whole wings, 25 chicken tenders, and your choice of side, valued at over $200. That’s a lot of chicken, and a lot of change. Altruism, however, is priceless.

Follow Brad Japhe on Twitter and all your wildest dreams will come true — provided your dreams involve stories about craft beer, booze, and fried chicken. 


Meet Your 2015 New York City Hot-Sauce-Eating Champions

Among the events at the 2015 NYC Hot Sauce Expo held at the Brooklyn Expo on Franklin Street in Greenpoint over the weekend were pizza- and taco-eating competitions, which attracted Pepto-swigging competitors, from novice first-timers to veterans. Now, the pizza contest challenged contestants to eat as much of a specially made Grimaldi’s pie, made with a variety of hot peppers on it, in ten minutes. Wayne “Wayney Wonder” Algenio, the eventual pizza-eating winner, executed a strategy of leaving the crusts for last. And Lorenzo Zackery’s attempt ended just as he reached for a cold glass of milk, which disqualified him. In the taco-eating contest, contestants had to eat just one very spicy chicken taco as fast as possible, swallowing it all before raising their arms and opening wide so the judges could see their empty mouths. The taco competition went on longer than expected, but eater Ken Walter appeared calm and collected, his poise carrying him to victory.



Would you do it again?
Greg Reid, who didn’t place: Yeah.

Do you train for this?
No. I eat a lot of hot sauce.

Is it punishment?
It depends on the level of spice of the sauce or the dust you are dealing with, if it’s punishment or not. But it does release endorphins in you. So you do get a euphoric feeling afterwards.

How do you feel now?
My mouth is tired, really. There was a lot of chewing in that pizza. I got the euphoric feeling. It’s kind of a rush, being onstage with all the people screaming at you. [Laughs]

Would you do it again?
Tom Herrmann, 26, of Astoria: Absolutely I would do that again. It was a lot of fun. I don’t have to buy lunch now. It wasn’t actually too spicy, it was the amount of pizza. It was very spicy, don’t get me wrong, but I could have done it. It was just getting it all down. My stomach is very full right now. I’m not eating lunch, maybe not dinner.

How do you feel?
Definitely a little nasally.

We noticed that.
Yeah, I noticed a lot of people noticed that. When I was onstage, I was trying to wipe it off and just, more kept coming.

Do you train for this?
No. Yesterday I had some pretty hot wings in preparation. But I’m not a competitive eater. It’s not something I normally do. I’ve done one or two eating things before, but it was always for spiciness and not for quantity. It was a lot of fun. This was the first time I’ve ever done, like, “eat the most” food the fastest, and I had a good time.

Was it like punishment?
It was a little bit of punishment, but just enough to make it fun and [to] endure it. It took a lot for me to do that. There were a few times where I thought about quitting but I didn’t. I’m happy I stayed till the end even though I didn’t finish. I tied for second with a really cool guy. We were talking about it afterwards. He does competitive eating stuff. So I think I did really well for a first time.

How do you feel?
Lorenzo Zackery, disqualified after stopping and drinking milk: I feel like I’m not going to be doing anything tomorrow except for hovering over a toilet stool.

Would you do it again?
I’m definitely going to leave this place right now. I had my share of hot sauce today. One was 1.5 million [Scoville] units. I tried another one that came in a coffin at 6.5 million units. Apparently this pizza had California peppers, ghost peppers, and scorpion peppers, so I think I’m done with hot sauce today. Maybe for a couple of weeks, too.

Did you train?
I did not. I just brought my normal self here.

How do you feel?
Wayne “Wayney Wonder” Algenio, the winner of the pizza-eating contest: I feel good and bad. My face is on fire. That’s the bad. And my boogers are burning my nose. But it feels great to win. I love competing.

Do you train?
Actually, I do compete in food contests, but spicy is not my speciality. I went into this just seeing how well I can do. And I did pretty good.

You prepared with Pepto.
I’ve learned that, after doing a few spicy contests, it will help with the aftermath, if you know what I mean.

Would you do this again?
Yes. I’m gonna try to do the taco contest, if they let me in. The main reason I’m here, though, is ’cause I’m doing the Buffalo Wild Wings competition at 5 p.m. I won the qualifier and I heard I had the most wings overall of all the qualifiers, with 79 wings.


So you’re a competitive eater?
John Krasnow, the taco runner-up: I do my best.

How do you feel after both the pizza and the taco contests?
Pizza wasn’t too bad but the taco, man, really shook me up.

Would you do it again?
Maybe the [Carolina] Reaper challenge tomorrow.

How do you train?
Just start eating peppers and hot sauces. Work your way up so you can handle super-hot stuff.

Is it punishment?
Oh yeah. Yeah, it’s just like how well you can take the punishment.

How do you feel?
Ken Walter, taco-eating contest winner: Not too bad. Lips and mouth are completely on fire.

Would you do it again?
Without a doubt. Definitely.

Do you enjoy the taco?
Oh, yeah, it was good. It really didn’t get hot till about three or four minutes after I ate it.

Is it punishment?
It was exciting at first, and now it’s a little bit on the punishing side.

See also:
Here’s a Taste of the Third Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo
Slideshow: Inside the 2015 NYC Hot Sauce Expo


This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 7/3/2014

Tropical storm or no, a long holiday weekend involving hot dogs and beer is still something to get excited about. Here are five food events that you should take into consideration if you’re sticking around.

Delaney BBQ to Go, Briskettown, 359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday

If you’re in need of a last minute solution to an impromptu party, consider ribs and brisket by the pound. Daniel Delaney’s smokehouse is offering both via pre-order; food will be ready for pick-up at 11 a.m. on the 4th. Place your order today only on Briskettown’s website.

Jersey City’s Freedom and Fireworks Festival, Liberty State Park, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ, Friday, noon

A long weekend is the perfect time to explore a new neighborhood, and Jersey City is rewarding visitors and residents with an all day festival that will culminate with the Grucci fireworks show surrounding Lady Liberty. Food trucks, carnival games, and a free concert are all part of the event; the fireworks show starts after 9 p.m.

Hot Dog Eating Contest After Party, Professor Thom’s, 219 Second Avenue, Friday, 7 p.m.

If you can’t make it to Coney Island, hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut will be kicking back at this East Village bar. The bar is also celebrating the fireworks’ return to the east side with beer specials and is known to throw some pretty epic costume parties — so break out those American flag pants from college.

Oliver’s Astoria Summer Fundraiser — Inaugural Cornhole Tournament, Oliver’s, 37-19 Broadway, Queens, Saturday, noon

Loosen up the arm and be ready to flex some muscles — beer-drinking kind included — with a summer charity cornhole tournament. For $50, guests can play for cash prizes and attempt to claim the title of champion while enjoying happy hour specials like $4 brews and $5 appetizers. Don’t feel like playing? Stop by to cheer on or boo teams. Be sure to register in advance.

SingleCut Beersmith’s Independence Day Celebration, 19-33 37th Street, Queens, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Celebrate your post-holiday hangover with more beer and BBQ, as this Astoria brewery will be keeping the door open to anyone who wanders in looking in for a drink special. Eclectic East Village craft beer pairing expert Jimmy’s No. 43 is bringing its smoker to Queens for a grand cookout, and the brewery plans to run drink specials every hour until 5 p.m.


A Mega-Dumpling and an Eating Contest: Recollections From the 2013 New York Dumpling Festival

This past Saturday September 28, dumpling lovers, competitive eaters, and passersby feeding their doughy impulses gathered at the northernmost edge of Sara D. Roosevelt Park to celebrate the humble foodstuff’s proud and global history. Sponsored by Brooklyn manufacturer Tang’s Natural, Fairway Market, the Voice, and others, the 10th anniversary of this noble event expected to bring in thousands of dollars for the Food Bank For New York City.

Once inside the festival area, it was all dumplings all the time. Children and adults alike wrapped their arms around Tang’s mascot Mama Dumpling. My girlfriend was a mascot once, and she said that even on cool days those suits feel like 100 degrees (or 98 degrees if you love you some Lachey). In addition to traditional jiaozi pot stickers, there were ravioli, empanadas, sumptuous butter dumplings, and pierogies among the offerings. There was even a giant alien-like MegaDumplingTM, which I, the other dumpling-eating contest judges, and several other honorees cut through with a large knife. The dense floury beast split in two to reveal a litter of baby dumplings, like a gruesome anthropomorphic sacrifice. Please say it wasn’t a cousin of Mama Dumpling. The crowd ate it up (not literally, as far as we know the MegaDumplingTM was just for show).

When it came time to judge the dumpling eating contest, I was somewhat concerned. Competitive eating never really drew me in, but I was curious. Maybe in this crazy world of cronuts and ramen burgers, I’d become so desensitized to shocking imagery that seeing completely good dumplings decimated and ingested with ungodly fervor wouldn’t phase me in the slightest. Boy was I wrong. It is rough seeing the carnage wrought by these brave men and women. Dumpling skins scattered across the table, it is indeed a battlefield. You have to hand it the contestants for setting out to do something truly impressive and all in the name of charity.

For a report on the winners, see the next page.

Three heats of eight competitors each (separated by gender) gorged on dumplings for two minutes straight to booming, poppy electronic grooves. When all was said and done, it was Molly Schuyler who shattered the previous record and even beat all the boys with an insane-sounding 90 dumplings consumed. The Nebraska native said that she was “bored, so I came to New York.” In truth, she’s the #1 ranked female independent competitive eater. Girlfriend was snacking on dumplings as she walked off the stage. The top male eater, one James “The Bear” McDonald, ate 86 dumplings. Both eaters took home $2000 for their troubles. Last year’s champion David “Tiger Wings ‘n’ Things” Brunelli, who had previously defeated seven-year champion Joe Menchetti, placed third. Full results below.

Men’s Division:

1st Place – James “The Bear” McDonald, 86 dumplings

2nd Place – David “Tiger Wings n Things” Brunelli, 72 Dumplings

3rd Place – Patrick “Deepdish” Bertoletti, 71 Dumplings

Women’s Division:

1st Place – Molly Schuyler, 90 dumplings

2nd Place – Stephanie “Xanadu” Torres, 66 dumplings

3rd Place – Floria Lee, 43 dumplings


Deep Thoughts from a ‘Pizza Douche’: How a Slice Is Like Cleavage

Sure, he’s from Chicago and he’s been called a “pizza douche,” but Patrick Bertoletti, who happens to be ranked second in the International Federation of Competitive Eating, says he’s eaten at more than 200 different pizzerias around the world, including New York’s most famous pie shops. He talks slices over at Food Republic:

My take is that the correlation of a slice to whole pie is similar to the correlation between cleavage and full nudity. Sure, cleavage is nice, but you don’t get a true sense of what you’re dealing with. Just go to a topless joint in Tijuana and you’ll know what I mean. When ordering a whole pizza, there is no amount of vertical stripes, push-up bras, glitter, opaque makeup or parmesan that can hide its true traits and faults.

Wonder what this guy would have to say about that.