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The rest is gravy for poutine champions


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Joey “Jaws” Chestnut won (left), besting Matt “the Megatoad” Stonie (right).

It only took 10 minutes for Joey “Jaws” Chestnut to snatch victory from the jaws of Matt “the Megatoad” Stonie during the 7th Annual Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, October 1.

Chestnut downed 25.5 pounds of the infamous Canadian delicacy consisting of fries, cheese curds and brown gravy, breaking Stonie’s record of 24 pounds and reclaiming the title from his rival, who came in third this year. In fairness to Stonie (what a great name for a competitive eater), he may still have been full from the 41 cheeseburgers he polished off in 10 minutes in order to win another professional challenge just a couple of weeks before.

Unlike in hot dog eating contests (separate bun from dog, douse bun in water to make it go down easier), there is no special technique involved in eating poutine quickly, according to Ryan Smolkin, CEO and founder of the Canadian-based franchise with north of 84 units. The contest is “weird, wild, wacky…with fries flying, gravy flowing,” enthuses the CEO, who could have those same three adjectives applied to him.

People packed the Square, in part to see the Major League Eating sanctioned event, and in part because Smoke’s Poutinerie was handing out free poutine, served in thousands of small containers. And then there was the KISS cover band to keep the crowd’s energy from congealing.

Ryan Smolkin

Ryan Smolkin, is the CEO and founder of Smoke’s Poutinerie, host of the 7th annual eating championship.

This year, in order to raise more funds for his designated charity, Friends of We Care, a camp for kids with disabilities, Smolkin added a CEO contest, where the CEOs solicited pledges for their participation.

Dawn Mucci, CEO of Lice Squad, another Canadian franchise, was one of the CEOs who accepted the challenge. “I never eat poutine,” she says, then quickly clarifies, “well, I eat it, but in small quantities.” To spruce things up a bit on stage, she said, she might bring a fancy fork, but she was resolved before even stepping up on stage that the contest “won’t be pretty.”

No eating contest is without its controversy. According to news accounts, animal activists jumped on stage before the competition to protest the abusive treatment of animals. We don’t want to make light of a serious problem, but while the connection is clear when it comes to Nathan’s challenge on July 4th because it’s hot dogs, it’s a bit strained when it comes to cheese curds and brown gravy, although perhaps there are farmers out there who abuse potatoes. Who are we to judge?

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