This Sunday, while millions of Americans are busy feeding their faces with grilled meat and alcoholic beverages…one man will be in New York representing the mustached community in the Annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
As a special treat to our loyal readers, AMI correspondent Jesus Meledez of the Hall Of Very Good had a chance to catch up with Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti before he embarked on his quest for the coveted Mustard Yellow Belt.
JESUS: Twice in the last three years you’ve finished third, just behind Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi. Obviously you want to win, but what’s your goal this year numberswise?
BERTOLETTI: To not shit myself on live TV. To get the drunkest at the after party. To hopefully improve on 55. And to angle myself so the camera captures my mustache in the right light.
JESUS: You’re the record holder in everything from eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (42 in ten minutes) to pickled jalapenos (263 in 15 minutes) to a very “Stand By Me”-esque Blueberry Pie (9.17 lbs. hands-free in 8 minutes)…what is the record or personal best that you hold the most dear?
BERTOLETTI: 275 pickled jalapeños in ten minutes because it was the most grueling ten minutes of my life and my body performed better than I ever thought possible. Also, eating 47 slices of pizza in ten minutes. Pizza is my favorite food of all time, there isn’t a human alive that deserves that title more than me…”Deep Dish” Bertoletti.
JESUS: Is there anything you WON’T eat?
BERTOLETTI: I don’t like jalapeños or raw oysters but I will compete with them. I will eat anything once in and outside of competition. The weirder and funnier sounding the better, especially if the food sounds like a term for the female genitalia…i.e. “poutine”.
JESUS: It’s probably been asked a million times, but how did you get started in competitive eating?
BERTOLETTI: My twin sister knew of my aptitude for overconsumption and my early signs of obesity so she talked me into entering my first contest…an MLE (Major League Eating) sanctioned pizza eating contest.
JESUS: So, obviously, you’re penchant for eating is family supported, my wife was wondering…what’s Thanksgiving like at your parent’s house?
BERTOLETTI: I tried to keep my eating on lockdown because it can get so out of control. I am proud of myself if I can limit it to one plate with a small taste of everything. As a kid, I would go through at least three plates on top of all the dessert and snacks. I prefer to do some cooking because keeps me away from the food and caps my eating.
JESUS: You’ve gone into plenty of competitions with a variety of different upper lip ornaments. What can we expect this Sunday?
BERTOLETTI: You can expect the Hulk Hogan fu manchu molestache. I have done my best eating with a mustache and I plan to rock one this Sunday. The two years I went with a ‘stache, I set personal bests. I think a playoff ‘stache would be way better than the cliché beards
JESUS: Do you consider your cookie duster as the ultimate performance enhancer or does it slow you down, what with you having to knock off all the female fans one by one?
BERTOLETTI: It doesn’t get in the way and could possibly hide food, so I’m all for it. It seems to scare the wrong girls away and attract all the right ones. Who doesn’t want a man that uses hot dog grease like breeze wax in his mustache? It’s hard to get that Rollie Fingers look without hot dog grease.
JESUS: I’ve noticed some competitive eaters adopting different personal styles through the years. Kobayashi wears the headband, Eater X wears the face paint. Even you’ve adopted a few…going with the Mohawk and, at times, even the powder blue Tony Clifton tuxedo. What in the world is Joey Chestnut’s deal?
BERTOLETTI: He’s too good to need a gimmick. The best known have a hook…face paint, small asian man or woman, face paint. Competitive eating can get boring if you don’t spice it up for the fans and that’s always my attempt at Nathan’s. I was going to wear an Evel Knievel jumpsuit, shoot off a confetti cannon and ride my little princess pink scooter with tassels this year but they outlawed all costumes. To be honest, I was more excited about wearing that costume than the actual eating. It’s a great way to give the world a glimpse into my demented and deranged psyche.
JESUS: What is your best “reversal” story?
BERTOLETTI: After my first event I made my sister pull over and I reversed on someone’s front lawn. My only reversal during a contest was during a tamale contest three years ago. I had eaten 46 tamales in ten minutes and during the last ten seconds I stuffed two more in my mouth. I struggled to clear them and had a sudden urges where I would sweat and my face would turn beet red. Convulsions would start but I would hold them in. The crowd of 200 witnessed these and urged me on by gasping as I struggled to get it down. After about seven minutes, I faced the wall, put my leg up, lost concentration and proceeded to Technicolor yawn all over my shirt, shorts, shoes and the stage. That was a $2500 story as that’s how much I would have won. The nearest eater downed only 41. I think it was worth it, but should start telling it more so I feel I got my moneys worth.
If you’d like to read more, you can find the complete version of the Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti interview on the AMI blog.