Deep Dish Goes Deep-Down
Pat Bertoletti reflects on life, chips & dogfights
Editor's note: Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti set a world record last Saturday at Day-Lee Foods' World Gyoza-Eating Championship in LA's Little Tokyo. Pounding down 264 dumplings in 10 minutes, Bertoletti smashed friendly nemesis Joey Chestnut's previous record by a couple dozen. He heads to NYC in a couple of weeks for a pizza tour (don't worry, Food Republic's going too). Here, Deep Dish reflects on his Nathan's 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest experience, now that it's, ahem, all out of his system.
The Nathan's contest can be compared to a big event in one’s life, like a Bar Mitzvah you prepare for by eating hot dogs for 3 months (Kosher, mind you). Time, effort, focus and sweat equity are invested, leaving a void and lack of self-direction, like turning back into a pumpkin and/or Lindsay Lohan at midnight. But while the adrenaline is still coursing, you command a sense of reinvigorated chi-rebirth. Why? Because accomplishments were made.
My fears in life are few: Normalcy, boredom and mediocrity. Ferris Bueller may have said, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” but my interpretation is this: “Life can move pretty slowly; if there’s too much time to think, it could lead to insanity.” My biggest fear is going through life as an unknown shlub, but I’d much rather be loved by a select few than garner lukewarm approval from the general masses.
Perhaps a psychologist would argue that professional eating is my crutch to stave off boredom and insanity. Some cite getting rich or starting a family as their main life goals. I want to bring a little humor and substance to the lives of others. That having been confessed, I usually follow unmitigated mental dialogues with a recap of my latest food adventures, and I won’t leave you hanging.
After the Nathan’s contest, I ventured to Ireland in an attempt to absorb my motherland and sample as much whiskey, unpasteurized cheese and funky-flavored potato chips as possible. Traveling abroad, especially in Europe, has taught me both the low value of U.S. currency and impressive potato chip varieties available abroad. I discovered and sampled the following flavors: Cumberland sausage, Worcestershire, balsamic vinegar and caramelized onions, spring onion and cheddar, caramelized shallot and white cheddar, bacon, grilled steak, and pigs in a blanket Pringles, to name a few. The Pringles were my favorite — they possessed the greasy flavor and lingering aftertaste of cafeteria breakfast sausages (bangers, if you want to go all British).
Potato crisps (as they are called) are the ultimate fat boy treat. There is no reason to ever eat them, as they consist of empty and abundant sodium and deep-fried calories. But they are the perfect food to consume while reading the trashy magazines your sister packed to read on the plane. Vacation for me is about celebrating… no, honoring my excessive appetites. Naturally, I follow these up with excessively bad hangovers and, in the case of Ireland, excessively large portions of “proper” Irish breakfasts, including the much-celebrated black pudding (blood mixed with oats, YUMMY!)
If ever there was a perfect memory from this trip that could be applied as a metaphor to my life, it would be my chugging contest versus a real live young Irish lad. I put my pint down in two gulps and was met with a “holy shit” from the bartender. My life can be described as a series of “holy shit” moments, as in “Holy shit, that guy in the Mohawk just ate an astronomical amount of food.” Or, from my girlfriend: “Holy shit, I can’t believe you just did that, you are such an idiot.”
In conclusion, I hope this won’t be my last trip to the EU or the last time I get to relay some of the crazy thoughts that form a funnel cloud of chaotic convictions south of the ol' Mohawk. Eating is something that has taken me further than I ever thought possible. I was a binge eater with a weight issue before competitive eating. That’s not something one ever outgrows, but for now, I’m having the best time of my life.
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