Thursday, 14 June 2012

Eating Challenge Training

A couple of weeks ago, a friend at work told me about a restaurant chain in Australia that has a Steak eating challenge (if you've been following the food posts on this blog, I've earned a reputation for excessive and/or unhealthy eating habits).  I was surprised to hear about it, and said I was interested.

So I looked it up, and the chain is called Outback Jacks, with locations in several states around Australia.

Actually, the more I read through the site and its menu, the more I realised that THIS was what the "Australian" themed restaurant chain in America called Outback Steakhouse, SHOULD BE LIKE (not what the average American THINKS Australian food is).  I was actually quite surprised to see that the American Outback chain already has 6 outlets in NSW... with a menu similar to the American version.  It's like having something translated twice - the end result (in Australian restaurants) is more of a mutation of American food and Australian food (because there wasn't much "Australian" to start with in the American version).

But that's sidetracking a bit... but it should be noted that I've been to one of the American Outback restaurants, so know first-hand how un-Australian the food really is.

So, back to the local food challenge.

I'm always intrigued by unusual, creative food items, and when the word "challenge" is thrown around, it gets me competitively interested.

I looked up the menu for Outback Jacks, and found the steak challenge.

It requires you to eat a kilo of steak, with vegies and wedges (said to be half a kilo of each), within 30 minutes.  And if you succeed, you gain a reward that varies at different locations (and even times of the year - during July, you can compete for tickets to a football grandfinal).

As with any competitive event, I needed to see if I had a chance, and then if I thought I could do it, I'd need to do some "training".
Okay, it sounds like I'm having a bit of fun there, but training of the stomach and jaws is indeed necessary. I read some time ago, that certain record-holders of speed-eating challenges in America, would expand the size of their stomachs, by eating big meals leading up to an event. That's something I might need to do, but also, I found that the jaw muscles get tired, so need to get some chewing gum to build up the jaw muscles.

But the first step was seeing if I could eat anywhere near a kilo of meat. If I couldn't do that, I'd have no chance of finishing off a plate of meat, veges and potato. (it should be noted, that the menu states that the weights are pre-cooked weights... so the amount on the plate could be 10-20% less than that, from the cooking process)

So I had to find a big lump of (cheap) meat.  I could have bought a kilo of small cuts of meat, but there is something about seeing one big lump of meat, and seeing your eating progress as you slowly cut into it and devour it... little by little.
I bought a 2.1 kilo roast from Woolies, which was only about $10 per kilo.  To turn it into a steak, I did a deep cut on one side, and two deep cuts on the other (think of the letter M) and flattened it out to look like this...

It should be noted that the foil tray and plastic wrapping must have been included in the Woolies weighing, which is a bit deceptive, in that you end up paying for the extra weight (which for me was an extra $2).

Since it wasn't a round lump of meat, I didn't have to cook it for 2 hours (its recommended - an hour per kilo of meat), so I put it in the oven for an hour, which was a bit too much.  I wanted it medium rare, but it ended up being medium-well done.
Next to a 1.5 litre bottle...

 The cooking process also lost more weight to the meat, resulting in the loss of 300gm (about 15%).  Some stores inject water into their meats, to add to the weight you are paying, but I think this was probably a normal loss of moisture and juices.

I cooked that in the morning, but by the time I let it rest, and had to do some chores, I started eating some, but then realised that I didn't have enough time before work to finish it off, so I had to put it in the fridge and time myself after work.

That night, I reheated it in the oven, and took another photo to show the starting weight...

Now to see if I could eat it in 30 minutes, and if not, what weight can I eat in 30 minutes.

After 10 minutes, 352gms eaten...

After 20 minutes, 637gms eaten...

After 30 minutes, 897gms eaten...
I was surprised that it was taking this long (for me that is). If the meat had been medium rare (easier to chew), and didn't have the odd bit of gristle, I could probably have that amount eaten within 20 minutes (remember, the kilo meat would only be about 900gms after being cooked). The vegies and wedges shouldn't take as long.  My jaw was tired though, so I definitely need to toughen the muscles up with chewing gum.
Anyway, I kept going to see how long it would take to eat the rest.

After 40 minutes, 1,037gms eaten...

After 45 minutes, 1,146gms eaten...

And just on 50 minutes, it was all gone. (all 1.287 kilos)

After the 30 minute mark I started using sauces, as the taste of meat was starting to make me nauseous.
But the good thing was that the stomach wasn't full... I just have to get the speed up. (hence the training)

So sometime in July, I should be trying out this challenge, and post up photos here.

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