The mother of four from Bellevue,Neb.,devoured 26 plain hamburgers in 10 minutes Thursday,winning $3,750 in prize money and a trophy. The competition was her first burger competition.
The spectacle wasn’t pretty,but Schuyler narrowly beat reigning champion Patrick Bertolleti,29,by one burger in the final minute of the Z-Burger Independence Burger Eating Championship in the city’s Tenleytown neighborhood.
The 11 contestants ate a combined 140 burgers.
In a male-dominated event,Schuyler was the only female competitor and ate almost the same number of burgers as five other competitors combined.
“Women don’t like to look sloppy and get food all over themselves. It’s not lady-like,I guess,” Schuyler said. “But I don’t care at all.”
Schuyler,who said competitive eating remains a hobby for her,isn’t new to the world of competitive eating.
In January,she ate 363 wings in 30 minutes at the Wing Bowl 22 in Philadelphia,where she narrowly beat Bertoletti by seven wings. Last month,she ate 40 slices of pizza in 12 minutes at the American Pie Pizza Eating Contest in Minnesota.
Before the eat-off,which is in its sixth consecutive year,Z-Burger co-founder and CEO Peter Tabibian said the chefs prepared 600 burgers and set 40 out for each contestant.
“The competition’s gotten more and more popular each year,” Tabibian said.
Finishing in second place,Bertolleti,who often dons the nickname “Deep Dish,” has been competitively eating for 10 years,but the thrill of fast-eating is losing its luster.
“It was different when I was 21 because I was young and got sent around the country to eat,so it was an excuse to travel and make money. In the past,none of that really mattered,I was just having fun,” Bertolleti said. “But my priorities have changed since then.”
The Chicago-native estimates that he’s competed in about 350 competitions and won about 70. He holds 39 food records,ranging from pancakes,to oysters,to poutine.
“I like the sweets the best because there’s no chewing involved,and sugar doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I excel at jalapeno challenges the most even though I don’t like them outside of competitions.”
Bertolleti,who won last year’s competition by eating 28 burgers,is the head chef at Taco In A Bag,a restaurant at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee,Ill.,near Chicago.
After the competition,Z-Burger offered free burgers to patrons for the remainder of the day.
Reach reporter Xander Zellner [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.