World Poutine Championship: The quick and the fed

A quartet of strong-stomached McGill students are preparing to lock jaws at tomorrow's poutine eating championships.
From left to right: Doug Chalke (U3 History and Political Science), Trevor Clarke (U3 History), John Hopkins-Hill (U2 Chemistry), Andrew Jung (U1 Mechanical Engineering) and Nicholas Norsker (U1 Engineering) put in some serious reps during a training session prior to tomorrow's poutine-eating championship versus Concordia. / Photo: Adam Scotti.

McGill team ready to lock jaws at poutine eating championships

By Neale McDevitt

Some foods were designed to be eaten quickly. Hotdogs, for example, with their streamlined, cylindrical shape are the perfect staple for speed eating, which is why the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is the most famous – and most watched – competitive eating event in the world.

Poutine, on the other hand, not so much.

“This could get messy,” admits Andrew Jung, a second-year mechanical engineering student and one of the pillars of McGill’s entry in what is being billed as the first-ever World Poutine Championship, University Edition.

The inaugural event, which will take place tomorrow from noon-2 at the Irish Embassy pub (1234 Bishop), is a classic two-team, winner-take-all showdown between traditional crosstown rivals, McGill and Concordia. Think Habs versus Bruins.

The Good, the Bad and the Hungry

If Wednesday’s practice run was any indication, Jung is downplaying the carnage. Because it is a four-eater-per-team relay event, in which a member of one team must finish his poutine as quickly as possible before the next teammate in line can dive into his own plateful of gooey goodness, forks – and table manners – have been checked at the door. As a result, Wednesday’s session (which certainly couldn’t have been called a “dry” run) provided hands-on training in every sense of the word.

“The technique varies from person to person,” said Jung following the practice session. “Some people used the ‘cram it in’ technique, others used the ‘ball it up and stuff it in your mouth’ technique. One member on our team didn’t even chew much – and it showed because he shoveled his poutine down in 52 seconds.

“Personally, I just need to work on taking small increments really quickly. You hit a brick wall as soon as your mouth is full because you can’t swallow it all at once, but at the same time you want to keep eating,” says Jung. “It’s not the most pleasant of feelings.”

A river of gravy runs through it

The McGill team, which could very well be called the Four Horseman of the Culinary Apocalypse, is comprised of Andrew “Junger” Jung, Nick “Big Cheese Nick” Norsker, John “Dirty Mike” Hopkins-Hill and Trevor “The Glutton” Clarke.

At 5 foot 10 and 145 pounds Jung doesn’t look like a big eater. He says he’s getting his inspiration from Takeru Kobayashi, one of the world’s winningest competitive eaters who, despite weighing less than 130 pounds, once held the world record by eating 53 hotdogs in 10 minutes. “I am definitely not related to Kobayashi but ethnically we are related, so I’m banking on that,” he says.

As if bragging rights weren’t enough, the winning team will earn $1,000 (courtesy of Smoke’s Poutinerie) to go toward their university’s respective chapter of Right to Play (RTP), an organization that improves the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace. “RTP operates in over 20 countries, with a heavy focus on developing nations – especially Africa,” says Jung. “But we also have a program for aboriginal youth in northern Ontario.”

The McGill RTP Chapter, of which Jung serves as VP Membership, is one of the University’s most popular and successful clubs, raising more money last year than any other university RTP chapter. “If we win, the $1,000 will go toward RTP programming,” says Jung. “To put it in perspective, every $50 puts one child into a sport and play program for an entire year.”

For more information on Right to Play McGill go here or see its page on Facebook. Follow the exploits of the poutine-eating team on Twitter at @RTPMcGill.