BURGERS by the kilo and schnitzels by the stack.
Eating challenges are a crazy concept and the rise of social media has only heightened the popularity of those who are willing to risk their stomach size in order to achieve gluttony glory.
Eating challenges in the Hunter Region cover all sorts of culinary bases, from burritos (Wests' Mexican Cantina's 'Big Ass Burrito' challenge has been kicking around for years) to schnitzels (The Bavarian's 1kg Schnitzelmeister challenge offers up a six-stack tower of chicken parmigiana and four sides that must be completed in an hour).
Don't forget to prep, though.
Take the advice of Newcastle's food challenge king, Jamie "Lemon Blossom" Miller.
"Usually if it's a large challenge, you really need to have stretched your stomach a few days before," Miller advises.
"Eat a large meal with a little bit of liquids, and then on the actual day, well, I wouldn't eat anything on the day of a big challenge."
After exploring the minds of professional eaters in the recent Food Issue of Weekender, here's some of the food challenges on offer around the region to try (if you dare) for yourself:
61 Station Street, Waratah Challenge meals are a permanent fixture at the Waratah pub, with a new one on offer each month.
"At the moment we have the colossal nachos and the burger trio," hotel licensee Cale Greer says. "The nachos are a huge-sized nachos and the burger trio is three different burgers: chicken, lamb and beef burgers with chips on the side."
Participants have 30 minutes to finish off either dish and, if successful, walk away with one of the pub's bucket (beer or cider) specials. Previous challenges include a 1kg chicken parmigiana, which is the most popular, and a seafood challenge.
448 High Street, Maitland If you've succeed in the 'Big Ass Burrito' challenge at Wests, but still have a hankering for more, this joint has its own Godfather Burrito Challenge. The El Padrino is a mammoth offering of one double-sized burrito, two serves of sweet potato fries, half a serve of chicken wings, along with rice, guacamole and crema.
If you clear the plate it under 45 minutes, it's free. Otherwise, prepare to part with $49 of your hard-earned for this challenge.
Exchange Hotel, 125 Denison Street, Hamilton It's the burger that weighs in at around the 1kg mark, combining a tasty combo of Wagyu beef patties - five of them to be precise - crispy bacon, layers of cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and house-made chutney.
Sounds relatively simple enough, right? The catch is that in order to score the burger for free and get your name on the coveted wall of fame, you have to polish it off in eight minutes or less. Miller has completed it four times already.
Hand over your $25 and take the challenge for yourself.
Heddon Greta, 1/18-20 Main Road, Heddon Greta A new addition to the burger scene in the Hunter, Burger Chef haven't wasted any time setting up a challenge meal. The enormous mountain of food has already been tried and tested by Miller, and it's a doozy.
The challenge includes a Big Chef burger, a bacon deluxe burger, two potato scallops, 10 onion rings, a family-sized chips and ranch sauce, along with a thick shake to wash it all down.
The challenge must be completed within 30 minutes, with every last bit cleared (even the sauce), in order to be crowned the champion.
The challenge costs $50 and the winner receives a commemorative challenge T-shirt. Best to order the next size up after completing this one.
Northern Star Hotel
112 Beaumont Street, Hamilton If steak is what you're after, the Northern Star Hotel's 1.2kg tomahawk challenge is one that only the mighty meat-eater can conquer. The dish itself is recommended for be shared between two, but if you choose to take it on as a meal-for-one then the challenge is all yours.
The 1.2kg tender beef rib on the bone is cooked to your liking, served alongside a fresh garden salad (perhaps to make you feel somewhat healthy) and side of chips with a choice of sauce.
If you finish the tomahawk individually in 20 minutes, you'll walk away not only with the glory but also a commemorative T-shirt to celebrate your accomplishment.
The tomahawk 1.2kg costs $80.
The Rooftop Westfield Kotara, Park Avenue, Kotara Declared by Miller as the toughest challenge he has undertaken in his career of 60-plus eating challenges, Italian restaurant Criniti's pizza challenge is one that very select few have managed to conquer.
The challenge is built around the restaurant's impressive pizzas by the metre (available in 0.5, one, two or three-metre lengths) where one pizza fiend can attempt to consume an entire one-metre pizza to themselves in the Metro Mania Challenge or bring a friend along for the ride in the two-metre pizza challenge.
Both challenges must be completed in one hour.
Those that manage to complete it not only score the pizza on the house, but also walk away with a year's worth of free meals at Criniti's (one complimentary meal per week).
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