Whether it’s donuts, burgers, snack packs or hot wings, there is no doubt competitive eating has taken Newcastle by storm.
Novocastrians have sunk their teeth so deep into the craze that the city is now home to Australia’s biggest eating competition.
A featured event at this month’s instalment of The Newcastle Show, the spectacle is returning for its second year.
Competitive eater and self-proclaimed Cheat Meal King, Alex Johnson, says the event will have a flavour for everyone.
“The Newcastle Show’s eating competition is going to be a great chance for people to just relax and chill out and then indulge a bit,” he said.
“Over the past year we haven’t had much of that, so this year the event will start off with a bit of a celebration and a bit of fun competitiveness that every Novocastrian would like.
“There are so many different venues on board, so there is a wide range of food that really covers anyone’s palette – you’ve got sweet, savoury, and spicy, you’ve got the whole bag there.”
Alex has built a following on social media, where he documents his eating pursuits, including his favourite spots to dine around Newcastle.
The challenges he is best known for involve copious amounts of donuts.
“When I first started doing my food blogging, I went and did a challenge at Doughheads which involved eating 10-and-a-half cinnamon sugar donuts in five minutes,” he said.
“After I did it, they gave me a year’s worth of donuts [which was great] because I love donuts, I’m an addict, they’re so good.”
As the face of the eating competition, Alex is excited to see people take on the challenges.
Over the last few weeks, the restaurants involved have been hosting heats to determine who will appear in the grand finals on Friday 5, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 March.
The final challenges involve speed eating, chilli eating and capacity formats including a one metre pizza from Criniti’s, a 2.8-kilogram burger from Harbour Bar and a 10-minute pie challenge from Miller’s Pies.
The Show’s general manager Kathryn Thomson said it was almost unimaginable to think people could consume so much food.
“It’s appealing in a weird way because you kind of want to know just how far you can go, it’s an interesting thing,” she said.
“Last year was the first year we did it and we had a huge response, it was one of the favourites.”
She adds that everything is on track for an incredible show.
“It’s obviously been a challenging year with the changing landscape around events,” she said.
“So, at Christmas we were only able to deliver an event for 5,000 people but now we have no capacity limit.
“We just have to adhere to the two square metre rule and with 100,000 square metres we should be right, we’d be having a bumper show if we had to shut the gates.
“We’re one of the only shows in NSW going ahead so it’s not without its challenges but it’s a really important thing for us to deliver and everyone here is so passionate about driving it forward.
“Our team has been amazing, and our sponsors have also been really amazing in supporting us to deliver this event.”
Other than the eating competition, Kathryn adds there are so many highlights to look forward to.
“We’ve got the rides and showbags and the animal nursery, all the usual Show favourites,” she said.
“We are also running a parkour competition, and a chase tag event.”
Tent pegging, fireworks, a demolition derby, woodchopping and a camp draft also feature within the program.
To be COVIDSafe, The Show has several things in place including a sign in and sign out system, social distancing stickers, COVID marshals, and sanitising stations.
Go to newcastleshow.com.au for more information.