SO many contenders have come to the table, and so many have fallen, at a Douglas restaurant’s mammoth burger-eating challenge.
One month into the Grill in the Park’s ‘Mann vs Food’ contest, only three people have managed to polish off the giant portion.
Challengers find themselves staring down the barrel of a two pound beef burger, topped with cheese, bacon, salad, mushrooms and served with chips and coleslaw.
They have 45 minutes to clear their plate and avoid the £17.50 price tag to eat free of charge.
Noble’s Park restaurant owner Stuart McMurdo explained: ‘I did it in my first ever restaurant 20-odd years ago, but with steak. I’ll be honest, it was good business. Two people would do it, but 10 more would come to watch.’
Staff weighed up whether the gimmick would ‘cheapen’ the restaurant, but decided a sense of fun would prevail and launched ‘Mann vs Food’ through Facebook. As Mr McMurdo put it: ‘It went crazy from there.’
The challenge for the restaurant is to strike a balance between the portion being modest enough so that people fancy their chances, but big enough so that the restaurant isn’t handing out free food every night.
And that balance looks to have been met, with 72 contenders so far, and just three victors finishing within 45 minutes.
Scotsman Stuart, who moved to the island with his Manx wife, said the competition has made for an interesting insight into the national character.
‘One of the things I’ve learned, is if you tell a Manx person “you can’t do that”, they’ll go on and give it a good go!’ he said.
‘£17.50 doesn’t break the bank if you fail either. We’ve had a table of 12 in who admitted none of them were likely to finish, they were there to have fun. One of them did it though!’
He admits not much money is made on the burgers themselves, but the buzz the challenge has created has been infectious, with customers at other tables sometimes even ordering extra drinks just to stay longer and watch. Challengers pose for a photograph before hand, and are presented with a white napkin to wave if they give up. Then the 45-minute countdown begins.
‘We don’t supervise, we trust them, and we’ve only had one person who we would’ve disqualified for cheating, but they didn’t finish anyway,’ said Stuart.
The concept for the next eating challenge is already being cooked up, as the chef develops a boneless pork rib to be served inside a giant bloomer. Stuart is even looking at making up t-shirts and little trophies to present.
Twenty-one-year-old Douglas man Matthew Rockwell was one of those who came to within a whisker of completing the challenge.
‘It was hard.
The burger is really nice and meaty, but the bread is the killer,’ he said, offering the following advice to future contenders: ‘Stack everything up on the burger, the bacon, the chips, everything, and eat it all together.
It’s definitely do-able!’