Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Krystal Square Off 5

Re-Occurring Themes of our Krystal Square Off 5 Weekend:
gasoline, food, meeting cool people, and oh yeah… KOBAYASHI!

Our journey to Chattanooga started on Friday morning when Trey and I left Mooresville in the pouring rain to head towards the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Well, I guess the real journey started a few days before when we went through the emotional torment of deciding whether the gas crisis in Charlotte was going to keep us away from Chatty…obviously it did not.

Anyway... Trey and I picked up Jamie in Asheville around noon on Friday and set out on our second annual expedition to the Krystal Square Off. Since the Asheville Krystal had recently closed, we had to snack in the car to hold our hunger until we found a Krystal—which to our luck, would only be about an hour away in Newport, TN. The Krystal in Newport was cool--kind of like a Cook Out or Checkers if you are familiar with those--there was no dining room and there was a drive in on both sides of the restaurant. Bottom line of our lunch stop: We ate lunch in Newport, God's Storehouse is in Newport (see pictures), we found a gas station in Newport, the rain stopped in Newport and the sun started to shine a little. We love this town!

After a few hours of driving, we finally arrived in Chattanooga and checked into the Day's Inn and tried to figure out how we would spend our time in the city. After checking out some websites (chattanoogafun/eatfeats/etc.) we just decided to have a fun night out in Chattanooga on Friday. There was some motorcycle thing going on Friday night so we saw what that was all about out on our way to the Big River Grille/Brewery for some food and drinks. The food was ok, but the Oktoberfest beer was divine.

On Saturday, we went to the Krystal on Cherokee Ave (which is the oldest Krystal still open, we think) and ate breakfast and decided to explore Chattanooga some more. We found this cultural fest going on near the water front and spent some time hanging out in the North Shore district of the city, which is really eclectic and interesting. The highlight of Saturday, however, was going to the Hixson Krystal (a few minutes outside of Chattanooga) for an eater autograph session + some free food samples!

We were pretty freaking excited going into the autograph session, because we knew that the time had come for us to finally meet Takeru Kobayashi. We've met most of the other eaters before at some point in time, but this was the big one, the one we have been wanting to see in real-life for a long time; we were finally going to meet the guy who ignited our interest in competitive eating. We got to the Hixson Krystal before the eaters did so we just hung out and sampled some milkquakes and stuff. We when they arrived, some pictures were taken and then Kobayashi, Pat Bertoletti, Joey Chestnut, and Humble Bob signed some autographs. We got in the autograph line (ok...we kind of started the line I guess…) and met Takeru Kobayashi and even got him to sign our Kobayashi trading cards. It was pretty thrilling. We also got to see the other eaters—-who we also really love :-).

One of the turning points of the day, though, was when I met Tiffany, who works for Krystal. Tiffany was helping with the autograph session in Hixson, and coincidentally, was the person who was in charge of the bunnettes. I was able to talk to her at the autograph session and asked her who I would be flipping for at the Square Off. She asked me who I’d like to flip for, I said Kobayashi, and the rest is history. September 27th, 2008, I became Takeru Kobayashi’s official 2008 Krystal Square Off Bunnette and I will forever live my life by the mantra: ask and ye shall receive.

I spent the rest of the day doing whatever I could to get my mind off of the Krystal Square Off because I was really getting anxious and nervous about being on stage (and behind a legendary eater, nonetheless). So, we ate some DELICIOUS pizza at Lupi’s downtown, had some Chocolate Therapy at Ben & Jerry’s, and checked out a band, Harper, on the waterfront. The band was actually pretty cool—the lead singer was Australian and played a didgeridoo, which ruled. We called it an early night and watched Sister Act 2 on TV. I doped up on some Advil PM and slept like a baby.

Sunday morning, Trey, Jamie, and I went to the City Café (adjacent to the Days Inn) for our second annual traditional Pre-KSO Breakfast of Chocolate Chip Pancakes. They were quite possibly some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had in my life, but I was pretty anxious to get the day started so I couldn’t finish them. Jamie, the president of the Clean Plate Club/amateur competitive eater, ate all of hers. After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel, packed up the car, and made our way down to Ross' Landing.

I hung out with Jamie and Trey for a while, scoping out the activities of the event, and went with them to find an up-close seat for the contest. After we sat down, we realized we were right behind Val, another competitive eating fan, who drove 10 hours just for the contest! It was nice to finally meet her in person after reading her stuff and looking at her pictures for a while. It was also fun to hear/see the Marshall Tucker Band play before the contest (ok it was also fun to see the mullet-clad MTB fans there too. Can I get a hell yeah for southern rock!?)

My bunnette duties officially started at noon; I helped hand out pompoms and thundersticks and balloons to the eating fans. Around one, we went and met the eaters on the water front to cheer them on as they walked to the stage for their introductions. I thought it was really cool that they came in by just kind of made me concerned for the ones who may get motion sick. ah well, it probably wasn't a long boat ride.

One of the highlights of the pre-contest was Badlands Booker's rapping! Until Sunday, I'd never gotten to see Badlands perform in real life so it was cool to see him from backstage. We were really excited to meet him too, and I must say...he is one cool dude.

The contest itself is all kind of a blur to me; it came and went so fast. I mean, at one point I was standing in the line getting ready to get on stage after the eater introductions, and the next thing I knew, I was up there flipping numbers to 86 (which was later reduced to 84). Thank goodness my wonderful husband Trey was there to video. It was so awesome to be on stage, though, being right in the middle of the action. Joey ended up winning, Pat came in second, and Kobayashi came in third. I was disappointed Kobayashi lost, but honestly, the whole thrill of just being there really overcame the disappointment. From what I could tell from behind the eaters, it seemed to me that Joey was pushing through faster and was on the track to winning throughout the whole contest. I was surprised, however, that no one beat the 100 mark; I expect to see 110+ burgers eaten next year!

After the contest was over, Trey, Jamie, Val, and I hung around to take a few more pictures. We also got to meet Rick Russo and his wife Sherri, SuperPaul, and a few others we hadn't yet met in real life. It sucked that we had to run off so fast after the contest; we'd have loved to spend another night in Chattanooga, but we had to make the 7 hour drive back home, back to the real world once again.

Overall, it was a great weekend; maybe the best weekend I've had in a while, but how could it not be good when it is based entirely around the mass consumption of burgers? This weekend couldn't have been possible without the fine folks at the Krystal restaurants we stopped at throughout the weekend, Brian and Tiffany who hooked me up with the bunnette gig, the people at Ford for building a car that can take us to many eating contests on decent gas mileage, and most importantly, Jamie and Trey my two compadres/fellow fans/sister & husband being the best travel buddies ever. I already can't wait until next year! Check back in with us soon, maybe Jamie will post with her opinion/thoughts from an audience point of view :-)



Anonymous said...

Not only can you flip numbers, but you can write too! What a great depiction of your weekend, I felt as if I were there! Oh wait, I was! Thank you so much for mentioning Sherri and I. We sure hope to see you guys soon!

Eat each meal like it's your last!

Val said...

It was great to meet you last weekend!