Picture a competitive eater. He’s a hefty guy in a baseball cap hellbent on swallowing as many of whatever he’s eating whole, as fast as he possibly can. Has he picked up a book lately? Maybe not. Does he know how to cook? Yup, hot dogs for practicing at home. But not Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti. The slim 26-year-old chef from Chicago, currently the #2 ranked competitive eater in the world (after Joey “Jaws” Chestnut), defies a long list of stereotypes. Just days before his 6th Nathan’s Fourth of July hot dog contest, the fiercest international competitive eating event, Deep Dish answered a few of our (heart)burning questions.
We noticed you always wear headphones when you compete and practice. What are you listening to?
My competitive eating playlist. Music makes me feel better, it keeps me motivated and helps me tune out everything else. I’ve listened to the playlist* so much that I know the timing of every song and don’t have to worry about the clock.
How long have you been rocking the mohawk?
6 years, I think it suits me. People with mohawks have a conception that they’re outlaws, so it’s funny cause I don’t embody any of the things that a mohawk used to stand for. We did a circuit of state fairs in weird places like North Dakota where fathers would look at me like I’d steal their daughters. It was so much fun. It’s kind of like that scene in Easy Rider with the motorcycles and the girls are swooning.
Tell us something gross.
I did a sugar-free ice cream-eating contest, the first to eat 24 scoops. I finished mine in about a minute, then we went to a party and at some point we all had really bad digestive issues. It was like Montezuma meets Ben and Jerry’s. It wasn’t painful, just really funny. When I ate 2 gallons of ice cream I had no issues. Unless you’re trying to cut weight for wrestling or something I don’t recommend sugar-free ice cream.
HDTV + competitive eating = Good or bad?
I don’t have an HDTV, but as long as my ‘hawk is good and my mustache is on the proper alignment I’m fine. Joey Chestnut though…
What’s the hardest thing to eat?
Rocky mountain oysters. I like them, but it was hard, like calamari. They’re going to be chewy. It’s kind of like having a bunch of rubber bands in your mouth. The easiest is ice cream because you don’t need to chew. There is a limit to how fast you can eat but it’s always enjoyable cause it’s cold and sweet. A lot of people struggle with the cold but not me. I’m immune to brain freeze.
That is indeed a gift. What are you eating for dinner tonight?
Hot dogs, Nathan’s brand. I start on the generic ones and work my way up. I could tell you what’s a Nathan’s and what’s not. For work I taste all day, I’ve been off for a few weeks training, but I always hope I haven’t done any permanent taste bud damage. After jalapeños my taste buds were shot for a day. I had to work in the kitchen after that and everything tasted like battery acid.
How many titles do you hold and which are you most proud of?
I currently have 32 titles and I’m probably proudest of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I ate 42 in 10 minutes. For every good contest there’s an amazing contest. Every time it’s a different challenge, a new experience, I do it for my memories and mental growth. That’s why I keep doing this, I’m in it for the long haul.
Any competitive eating slang our readers should know about?
Meat sweats. When you’re really packing down ribs or wings you just start sweating. It’s a scientific thing. Plus it’s fun to say. I coined the term “food tang” to define competitive eating groupies. I met my girlfriend at an eating contest, actually.
Hot. Are you a competitive eater or a gurgitator?
I call myself a prize eater.
Your blog features an extensive food literature reading list, everything from The Omnivore’s Dilemma to Medium Raw (and everything in between). How does this affect what you do?
There is no how-to “competitive eating for dummies” book. WE figure out everything ourselves. We are the experts and you have to motivate and educate yourself in everything you do.
*What’s Deep Dish listening to? He shared a playlist just for Food Republic – see if it helps you get more dogs down.
Dillinger Four – Let Them Eat Thomas Paine
Prizzy Prizzy Please – Thought Command
Benton Harbor Lunchbox – Chicago Town
Adam Fitz – When My Number Comes In
The Additives – 2 Sides Of The Mattress
Dave Attell – Skanks For the Memories
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
The Who – By Numbers
Sloppy Seconds – I Want ‘Em Dead
Mexican Cheerleader – Jet Fetish
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