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How much can you eat? Try Josie's Challenge

By by jessica rodrigo/jrodrigo@vicad.com
Feb. 22, 2012 at 1:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2012 at 8:22 p.m.


Add half a dozen eggs to a bowl, mix thoroughly and set aside. Cook approximately half a pound of mixed breakfast meat, including, but not limited to, sausage, bacon and ham and add diced potatoes. Pour eggs onto grill and mix completely. Top with cheese and arrange it on two large tortillas and voila! I introduce you to Josie's Brutal Breakfast Taco.

Oh, who is Josie, you ask? Well, Josie was the original owner of Josie's Mexican Food and Cantina in Port O'Connor, which is now owned by one her daughters, Eloisa Newsome, and her husband, Joe.

"It's kind of our version of 'Man v. Food,' like the TV show," she said, and she wasn't joking.

With four plates to choose from, Newsome and her staff at Josie's are looking for eaters to take the challenge. The only rules for the challenge are: the challenger cannot leave the table before the allotted 30 minutes is up, unless the plate is finished; and if the challenger fails to finish the plate, then he or she must pay for the plate.

Challengers can choose from Tijuana Torpedo Burrito, Josie's Stack, Triple Meat Bacon Cheeseburger and fries and the Brutal Breakfast Taco.

With five other challengers in tow, we showed up like a hurricane ready to demolish these plates of food, or at least that's what we had been imagining in the days before our arrival.

We were greeted by curious onlookers and diners enjoying their breakfast on one table, while at another, others were continuing the evening's events. They were clad in sunglasses and sitting at a table adorned by tall plastic cups of orange juice and bottles of Blue Moon.

We sat down at our table along the wall and ordered our drinks while Newsome slaved away in the kitchen. I ordered a coffee and a water keeping in mind Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese competitive eater and his technique for eating hotdogs.

When Newsome and her employees began to make their way to our table with plates in hand, it looked as though they were waltzing with our food, with arms held high in the air and feet moving between chairs and around other customers.

What I was thinking when I opted for a large stack of cakes instead of the breakfast taco, I can't recall. It's obvious though, that I had imagined a completely different picture. Maybe I was imagining the small Silver Dollar Pancakes on Denny's Junior Grand Slam breakfast meal, but that's typical of me to let my imagination run wild like a kid in a candy store on a shopping spree.

The audience of onlookers was now up and out of their seats armed with cell phones and cameras taking photos, while gawking at what lay before us. As were we. Each of us had our phones and our cameras out for our own before and after photos.

With a cooking timer in hand, one of the servers cranked it 180-degrees to the right, and it was on. Our 30 minutes were ticking away, and a silence took over the room.

Sitting near the middle of the table, which we joked looked like our own gluttonous version of the Last Supper, I was able to observe all of the techniques used to try and win the challenge.

In the end, we had two victors. Robert Zavala, multimedia editor, finished within the first 15 minutes of the challenge. Tony Balandran, delivery desk chief, took his last bite of tortilla with just about eight minutes left.

The rest of us were shamed by Josie's Challenge, and also, uncomfortably full.

"I gave it a good shot," Advocate Copy Editor Eric Jensen said after the plastic timer went off. "When my plate arrived at my table, I knew I had already lost."

I felt the same way. I was going strong for the first 10 minutes, but after that, I was slowing down.

When asked how he felt after winning the challenge, Balandran gave an honest response while laughing through a smile.

"I'm not sure if I am really proud of that," he said. "But I did come knowing what I was eating. The key is knowing exactly what's in there."

Balandran shared a little something that may have been key to his winning. When the orders were being taken, features editor J.R. Ortega told Newsome, who was clad in her apron and ready to cook, that he didn't like ham and asked if he could sub it out for something else. Chorizo was the stand-in for the ham and Balandran asked for his taco to be fashioned the same way.

"I haven't had chorizo in a while. Or eggs. And I had been wanting both," Balandran added.

Zavala told me before the challenge that he knew he could do it. He said he was always a fast eater and since there was a 30-minute limit on the challenge, he could demolish his plate.

"I'm full," he said. "This is the first time I have ever felt full from breakfast in my life."

Are you a fast eater or a big eater? Tell you her want to try the challenge and test your endurance and capacity at Josie's in Port O'Connor.

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