Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 in Review; Diablo Burrito; #MidnightMadness

Hey everyone! As 2012 comes to a close, I've decided to take a look back at what went down this year. There's a lot to cover, but I'll try and speed through everything. Plus, you'll get a bunch of videos to look at for your viewing pleasure (or to shake your head at in disgust). I figure it's also fitting that I've ended the year by taking down a previously undefeated spicy burrito.

With Leo (son of owner) after becoming the first to beat the
Diablo Burrito Challenge at Allan's Mexican Restaurant (12/22/12)
The beginning of 2012 was a mix of stress and frustration as I studied for the Washington bar exam. I had started the studying in November 2011, studying almost every day until the exam at the end of February 2012. Two and a half days of test taking in Tacoma was mostly a blur, but I would find out in late April that my studying paid off. I got sworn in in mid-May, and while business has been a struggle, I've really valued this learning experience.

It's also around that time that I finally took my food adventures to a new level: meeting other professional eaters. Randy Santel was the first pro eater I got to meet in person. I had gotten to know him after stumbling upon his YouTube food challenge videos in mid-2011. Randy finally visited the Pacific NW in May 2012, taking down challenges throughout Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue. Randy defeated six challenges, and I got to see two of them live (22" Big Dawg challenge at Wing Central and the 3-liter ramen bowl at Kobe Wellbeing Tonkatsu). He's real cool to talk to and I hope to meet up with him again in the future.

Meeting Randy Santel in Washington
Just a few weeks later, I finally got to meet Naader Reda, who has become one of my good friends. I friended him on Facebook after seeing his episode of Man v. Food Nation, and I had no idea that it would eventually become a real tight friendship. Naader and I enjoyed our first OregonMania trek during Memorial Day weekend. We did a few individual stunts over the three days. It was amazing enough to see Naader's first OregonMania challenge: defeating the 7-pound chicken dinner at China Blue. But then he completed a solo 12-pound pizza nukage at Church St. Pizza. Damn.

Meeting Naader Reda for the first time in Eugene, OR

I made sure to leave my spicy mark with a spicy pizza victory at Church St. Pizza and downing 25 Blazin' nuggets (with more spice added) at Buffalo Wild Wings. Yeah, boneless wings = nuggets.

Naader returned at the end of July for an OregonMania encore. It was another successful adventure, and two events in particular stood out for me. The first was our 5-pound poutine challenge at The Original Dinerant. Naader claimed a second victory over the challenge (you can also view his first win), while I felt like pure crap after downing a little over half. Too much gravy and cold cheese by the end led to my demise. It legitimately took me three days to recover.

OregonMania II (July 2012)

The second memorable event was Naader defeating the Mad Greek Progressive Challenge at Mad Greek Deli. The sandwich itself is eight pounds, but then add a pound of their delicious Greek fries and a 32 oz. drink to that. Given the 60-minute time limit (finished in 58 mins), this probably topped the Church St. Pizza challenge as the most thrilling challenge to see live.

There are rumblings of a third OregonMania in January 2013. If it does go down, details for that will come in a future blog post.

I started my YouTube channel in 2012, and Naader has been vital in helping increase my subscriber count. What many people might not know is that I originally started the channel to focus on my actual food adventures (usually to some of Portland's 700+ registered food carts) and throw in a few food challenges from time to time. As I became known more and more for handling spicy food, only then did I shift to my infamous "spicochist" and "stupid panda" videos.

The most popular video on my YouTube channel -- at the time of this blog post -- is still the 16 oz. of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion salsa I ate without any relief. Along with being my most-viewed video, it also has the most "likes" (33) of anything I've ever uploaded. Not surprisingly, I'm also calling it the stupidest thing I've ever done, and I'm unlikely to do anything that crazy again. After all, you know it has to be horrid if it's the only video that I've attached a "WARNING" segment to.

Other channels out there, such as L.A. Beast, really embrace the crazy challenge aspect. Ted Barrus (a.k.a. "The Fire-Breathing Idiot") used to do a few crazy spicy challenges, but has since decided to do official reviews of peppers and hot sauces. I encourage all my readers to check out both channels and subscribe to them.

Other challenges have been more enjoyable. One of the coolest atmospheres was my Tex-Ass Doughnut Challenge win at Voodoo Doughnut. This took place during the second OregonMania, after Naader vanquished the Mad Greek Deli challenge described above. Just prior to the official challenge, I also ate a "spicy" Tex-Ass doughnut -- covered in various hot sauces -- in about 60 seconds. Each of the doughnuts weighed about a pound. You can view both the spicy doughnut and the Tex-Ass Challenge videos below:

Two other fun challenges -- that I feel got its fair share of views -- were the Devil's Tower Pancake stack and bacon (totaling ~3 lbs) and the 5 Chocolate Bar Challenge video response to Joe Park (subscribe to him as well!).

This pancake video is currently my second-most popular video in terms of viewer count. It got an abnormally huge spike in views over a week's time during the fall months. As of this blog post, most of my other videos don't exceed 200 views. I think the food-porn-worthy thumbnail (seen below) is a big reason why. Still one of my favorite pictures that I've taken.

With the number of videos that have now gotten uploaded on my page, it's easy for many of them to get lost in the mix. Here are a couple that I think should get a bit more exposure: taking down the Stack of Mancakes at Stepping Stone Cafe (on 4/20, of all dates) and defeating Jayson's Habanero Burrito Challenge at San Diego Taco Company in Salem, OR. (Unfortunately, I learned in February 2013 that San Diego Taco Co. closed its doors in Salem)

I took a few trips in 2012, just for some brief getaways. As a treat to myself just for getting through that bar exam experience, I hung out with a friend in Colorado for four days. I did four challenges and won three of them. My only loss was a quantity challenge that still tasted great.

My next trip was back home to Hawaii to spend Thanksgiving with the family. No challenges there, but I hit up a handful of spots to review. Most of them have already been posted in the last few days.

Lastly, I took a rather cheap side trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of December. No gambling for me, but a bunch of eating. Naader Reda made the drive to meet up with me, and I also met pro eaters Miki Sudo and Juan Rodriguez for the first time. Vegas also included my first In-n-Out Burger experience, and all four of us decided to have a mini-feast. In-n-Out basically has a cult following, and I really enjoyed the food I had. Look for an In-n-Out Burger video in the near future!

Hamburger, cheeseburger, double-double, and Animal-Style fries
(about 2 lbs of food)
(L to R) Naader Reda, myself, Miki Sudo, Juan Rodriguez
My final significant spicy challenge of 2012 was the Diablo Burrito Challenge at Allan's Mexican Restaurant in Portland, OR. A quick fun fact: it's across the street from the Mad Greek Deli location where Naader conquered the Mad Greek challenge.

I first learned of the Diablo Burrito Challenge when members of the Big Eaters Club told me about it one evening in mid-December. It's a good-sized burrito -- probably around 1.5 pounds -- filled with eight of the spiciest peppers in the world. Needless to say, you can believe peppers like the ghost pepper and habanero were among them. There are also two serrano peppers on top to symbolize "devil's horns."

The entire burrito must be eaten within 10 minutes. You must eat the two serrano peppers first as a way of saying you accept the challenge. Over 30 people attempted this challenge before me, with no successes. Three other people to date have finished the burrito, but only after the time limit expired. And yes, you must sign a waiver.

Diablo Burrito Challenge
My loyal readers all know I've eaten a lot of spicy food, but this was among the spiciest challenges I've ever done. I went in when no one was there to keep things more low-key. I finished in 8:20 to become the first official winner. The owners were extremely friendly and ecstatic that someone finally beat their challenge. The challenge is pricey ($20), but I got a free shirt and a gift certificate for two regular dinners in the future. Allan's is a family-owned restaurant; please check them out if you're in the area!

(Yes, I will also release a video for this in early 2013!)

The first winner
Last but certainly not least, I will be joining over a dozen other people for Milky Way Midnight Madness Collaboration videos to ring in 2013. #MidnightMadness is our Twitter hashtag. It's not about how fast you can eat five Milky Way Midnight bars, and creativity is encouraged. Competitive eaters and non-competitive eaters are participating. Our videos will go up as the clock strikes midnight to ring in the new year. Since this involves people outside of the United States and spans multiple time zones, these videos will likely be going public at different hours. I'll do my best to find as many as I can and will devote a separate blog post to this fun stunt.

(EDIT: For now, I've uploaded my #MidnightMadness video for you to watch!)

Outside of my law practice and my food adventure site, I've done independent food articles for Food Carts Portland and Serious Eats. Check those out as well!

In terms of major milestones, in late 2012, this blog surpassed 100,000 page views and my YouTube channel eclipsed 10,000 combined video views. Never thought I'd get to either one. I honestly started all of this for fun, and it just took off on a life of its own. Over time, I've gotten to know so many people and have become a mini-celebrity among Portland food cart owners. Wherever you may reside, I appreciate everyone's support and can't thank all of you enough.

That was a lot to write, but I enjoyed every second of it, reliving all the memories in the process. 2013 should bring more stupid videos, many more blog posts, and a lot of eating! Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment