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EATING & DRINKING

Q&As with Munchin' Mike

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted March 23, 2013
michael munchin mike longo in action
Scarf it, my son! Munchin' Mike in action. © Michael Longo

To cut it in the world of competitive eating (CE), it's not just huge quantities of grub you have to contend with. You also have to deal with bungling hacks.


We reckon that Michael 'Munchin' Mike' Longo had a pretty good year last year, with the All Pro Eating (APE) number six winning five events and placing in the top five in all but one of the eight others he competed in, not to mention taking down the 4 lb (1.8 kg) El Torro Burrito at the Pica Taco Mexican restaurant in Washington DC in 21 minutes.

But how does the man himself feel 2012 went?

"Actually, I think 2012 for me was my worst year so far as a competitive eater," he exclusively tells the Rake & Herald by email.

Oh, right.

OK.

Er, moving swiftly on, he continues: "I think mentally I wasn't into it as much as I should have been."

"Twenty thirteen is definitely going to be a bounce-back year."

"I've recently put on over 20 lbs from hard off-season gym time."

"I'm currently cutting and leaning myself for the summer and I can already feel the difference in my body and what it can hold."

Working out six days a week – "one hour of weight training and 30 minutes cardio" – Munchin' Mike and his wife Tiffany are both "gym rats", he says.

"I definitely think training has a direct correlation to competitive eating."

"My post workout meal is usually a protein shake blend, a 16 oz [454 g] chicken breast, 2 lbs of greens and half a gallon [1.9 litres] of water."

"Days continuing up to a contest, I'll increase the liquid intake during the day."


WINGS NOT MATZO BALLS
But it's not just Munchin' Mike who has gained 20 lb in weight recently.

So too has Kok Wang, the Rake & Herald's fashion editor, London cabbie, self-appointed competitive eating pundit and the total dickhead who dropped a bollock on the research front a few sentences ago, although unlike Munchin' Mike, Kok piled on the pounds by sitting around on his arse all day with a kebab in his gob.

However, while everyone round here knows that Kok intends to keep on being a fat useless tosspot for the rest of his natural, what are Munchin' Mikes's ambitions for the months ahead?

"My goals are to compete at the highest level I know I can," he says.

"The mental aspect of CE is where I need to focus."

And so far things haven't started off too badly, with Munchin' Mike munching his way to glory at the Heyser Farms Cherry Pie Eating contest in Colesville, Maryland this past March 2 in a time of 1 minute 10 seconds.

"It was a half 12-inch pie against five locals," he explains.

Mmm, cherry pie.

Bet it tasted pretty good, right?

"I actually hate cherry pie."

Er, yeah.

Same here.

Isn't Kok a bell end?

"There must have been dozens of cherries – each bite was loaded with them," Munchin' Mike continues.

"Best part was the homemade crust."

Yeah, that's what I meant, I bet the crust was tasty.

Cherries?

Yuck!

Bloody horrible things.

Anyway, sticking with the subject of food, given that Munchin' Mike holds the APE records for both cheesesteaks and Italian ice1, two rather different disciplines, are there any types of food that he particularly likes or doesn't like to chomp against the clock?

"My favourite competitive food to eat is wings," he replies, although when it comes to the crunch he's not what you'd call a fussy eater.

"I'll eat anything competitively."

"However, I hate mayonnaise."

"The worst contest food I've ever had was matzo balls, in which I won."

"Definitely will never pay to eat matzo balls," he vows.

Well, in contrast to Munchin' Mike, who ate five of the them in 8 minutes to win the Uptown Deli's Matzo Ball Eating Contest in Bethesda, Maryland back in September 2011, we've never even seen let alone tasted one, so we can't really comment.

But if Kok has finally got something right, it would seem that Munchin' Mike has won contests spanning 15 minutes as well as sprint events of three minutes.

So does the 25-year-old IT specialist have a preference for short or long food fights?

"I definitely prefer longer contests as I'm not the fastest eater at the table usually."

"I believe my strength is capacity," he says.

As readers may or may not be aware, APE mastication matches are conducted in accordance with Picnic Style Rules that forbid the dunking of e.g. hot dog buns or pizza crusts in water during a chowdown.

This differs from Major League Eating (MLE) events, where dunking is allowed.

Now, we're not going to praise or dis either approach as we can see the virtues in both, but what does Munchin' Mike think?

"Picnic Style Rules are definitely better in the aspect of measuring results," he says.

"There is no slop or craziness all over the table, floor and in cups."

"Obviously, Picnic Style Rules are harder, but it makes everything better to judge."


a massive prize
Wahey! Success brings its own rewards. © Michael Longo


BURGERS AND BEYOND
But how did Munchin' Mike, a resident of Dumfries, Virginia and a recent father (congratulations by the way), first get into the sport back in 2009?

"I used to live in North Carolina, where Andy's Burgers Shakes & Fries [now renamed Highway 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries] has a chain."

"They have a 50 oz burger challenge with fries and drink."

"After a gym workout, my friend urged me to do it."

"Seven minutes after starting the challenge I was done and set the store record."

"After that, challenges became sort of a hobby on the weekends."

"Contests followed after emails from APE."

Fair play.

So has CE changed much since then?

"The sport is definitely growing," he reports.

"APE has continued to add new sponsors to its contests and has great annual contests as well."

"However, I've noticed prize money is down with the unsanctioned contests."

"Local contests have ceased prize [dollars] and have been giving out a lot more GCs [gift certificates as opposed to George Crosses probably given that the latter are only awarded for bravery in the UK] and passes."

But while we think Munchin' Mike deserves a medal for actually replying to my, I mean Kok's cock-eyed questions, the man himself is not averse to dishing out the honours to other alimentary athletes himself.

"Joel 'the Cannon' Podelsky is my favourite gurgitator," he reveals.

"He recently lost over 100 lbs and is very inspiring to others in the CE world."

"He was the first person in the eating community to take me under his wing and show me the ropes."

"We've done road trips and challenges together."

"My favourite together was the Clinton Station Diner challenge, setting the three-man Zeus Burger record of 42 minutes with Jon Squibb."

And while Munchin' Mike is more than capable of taking on gargantuan challenges on his own, he's also clearly something of a team player.

"If anyone is in the northern VA-DC-Maryland area and would like to do a team challenge, let me know," he says.

But what about rookies, youngbloods and wannabes?

Any tips for those new to the sport and looking to up their game?

"Don't go crazy and get burnt out," he says.

"It happens and [when it does] take some time to get back into it."

And on that note, it's time for you all to take a break.

That's right.

It's time to watch Munchin' Mike take on the El Torro Burrito and win.

If Kok can work out how to embed the bloody thing, that is.





Big thanks, Munchin' Mike, for putting up with Kok's incompetence like a true gent and also apologies for the massive delay in getting the questions to you. To get in touch with Munchin' Mike regarding potential eating collaborations or to simply keep up to speed with his eating, have a wander over to his FaceBook page or Twitter feed. Meanwhile, to watch more vids of him in action, check out his YouTube channel, from where we embedded the one above. Many thanks again, Munchin' Mike, and all the best for the coming season. Hopefully, it'll be full of victories without a single matzo ball in sight. Cheers!


Are you a competitive eater interested in a profile/interview jobbie? If so, get in touch by email. Just be aware that there may be a bit of a lag between contacting us and receiving the questions. Don't take it personally, we're just stretched really thin. Except for Kok, who's just bought another kebab.


Footnote


1) Munchin' Mike ate 4.05 Noi Yoik-style cheesesteaks in 7 minutes at the Cheese Please National Cheesesteak Eating Championship in Rockville, Noi Yoik on June 5, 2010 and 4 lbs 1.25 oz of Italian ice also in 7 minutes two weeks later at the Little Jimmy's Italian Ices National Italian Ice Eating Championship in Englishtown, New Jersey. So there. Well done, Munchin' Mike.




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