It was truly a man-versus-food affair on March 30 at Character’s Café on Rolfe Square as five brave participants took on the inaugural “Close Enough to Easter” omelet challenge.
The contestants were charged with finishing an omelet made of 16 eggs, bacon, ham, sausage and cheddar cheese, as well as a full order of home fries and white toast.
“This is my baby. I am so excited to see what happens today,” said chef Jonathan Helme, who has been working on the event for months along with Kaitlyn Flynn, manager of Character’s Café. “My goal for the challenge is now to be ongoing. We have an official benchmark of time, so now anyone who wants to come in and try to beat the score will win a $50 gift card, a T-shirt, a picture on the wall and bragging rights.”
It took Helme about an hour to cook all the omelets and prepare the pans.
To make the event even more interesting, the contests represented places across the globe. They included a Turk, two Irishmen, two men from England and an American from Massachusetts.
The contestants were all there just to have fun.
“I like food-eating challenges. I held the record at Spike’s Hot Dogs, I won the dumpling challenge in Pawtuxet Village, and my brother and I ate eight pounds of pizza out of a 10-pound pie in a challenge in Connecticut,” said Brandon Wood of Massachusetts.
The perception of food challenges around the world is quite different from the U.S.
“I really don’t understand them. I think it is a cultural thing. I find them funny, as part of American humor. However, I have participated in three food challenges in my life,” said Eamon Kennedy, an Irishman who resides in West Warwick.
One of the Café’s regular customers, Mustafa Ozmen, originally from Turkey, had Helme make him a special vegetarian omelette, consisting of broccoli, mushrooms and spinach.
“I’m here to enjoy the event. This is my first challenge – I know my limits,” he said with a laugh.
With all the contestants in place, the challenge started. Each contestant had their own method to get through the massive amount of food in front of them.
Setting the bar very high, Wood emptied his pan in a record-setting 4 minutes, 26 seconds.
“The secret is, don’t chew. Put some food in your mouth and drink water,” he said. “That was pretty easy. I could eat another one.”
As he was celebrated, several contestants continued to eat and vie for second place.
Daniel McCaughey, a Cranston resident from Nottingham, England, spent almost 30 minutes finishing his food.
“I paid for it, I’m going to finish it,” he said.
Character’s Cafe is a full-service, nonprofit restaurant owned and operated by Gateways To Change Inc. It is located at 82 Rolfe Square in Cranston.