Tuesday, June 5, 2012

OregonMania, Day 1 (5/25/12)

NOTE: This is the first of a four-part series chronicling OregonMania, where two guys basically ate a bunch of food in Oregon over Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2012, was the first day of OregonMania, a multi-day event with professional eater Naader Reda. You may have seen Naader on the Pacific Coast Highway episode of "Man v.Food Nation," where he ate the 4-pound Brahma Bull tri-tip sandwich.

As a bit of background story to our friendship, that MvF Nation episode was how things started. I was FB friends with another person at the time, and she knew Naader in real life. From there, I sent a FB request to Naader, and he accepted. I didn't think much would result from all this -- even after I messaged him the links to his MvF Nation show on YouTube. But over time, as his food challenge wins piled up (and I started doing more spicy challenges), we got to talking more and more. Ultimately, he told me he was coming up to Oregon for some epic noshing. With very few food challenges in Salem, I put together a couple of events for Naader in the area. We'd also hit Corvallis and Portland over the weekend.

As the days to OregonMania neared, I knew it would be one for the ages. I just had no clue how amazing it would turn out.

On Friday morning (5/25), Naader informed me of a possible spicy wing challenge in Eugene. Unfortunately, when we got there, we found out the challenge had been taken off the menu just a couple months prior. Maybe there was not enough interest in it, but considering it's right next to the University of Oregon, it should have been a big hit. I stayed healthy in getting a Caesar salad and grilled chicken -- but not before drenching that salad (and the dressing) with Trinidad Moruga Scorpion hot sauce.

The hot sauce got poured on not too long after this photo was taken
After that, we drove to Corvallis, where Naader took on the 7-pound Lucky Seven Challenge at China Blue. He had one hour to take down this all-chicken meal, about a pound of seven different types. If Naader prevailed, he would get the money in the cash pot, which was $700 at the time of our visit. He would still need to pay for the $29.77 meal, but obviously would still leave the restaurant with a big profit.

(NOTE: At the time of our visit, a winner could also opt to get the meal free, but would not get the cash pot. Seems silly to me to have that option, especially if the pot is no smaller than $100 at any time. You'd get a check, as opposed to a gift certificate or other restaurant-only prize, so even out-of-state winners are better off asking for the cash pot at all times.)

When we got there, another guy was taking the same challenge. His wife/significant other, plus what appeared to be their child, were basically the man's support group. The owner said whomever finished first (the other man or Naader) would get the $700 prize. Naader quickly put his order in, and the challenge came out several minutes later.

A lot of heaviness and chewing in this one. The dish was piping hot at the start, and basically got tougher as the meal cooled down. The other guy (we failed to get his name) tapped out after eating roughly half, still a very respectable effort.

Chicken...why did it have to be chicken....
Owner of China Blue presents Naader with the check!
Naader powered through and finished in 46 minutes, claiming the $700 and his picture on the wall. As for me, I stuck with a healthy meal again: chicken and vegetables.

Naader flew out of the gates for OregonMania. Meanwhile, I basically laid low on Day 1. Merely a small tease on my end with the spicy salad, but I'd up the ante over the next three days, that's for sure.

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