A look of utter misery was plastered on each of the faces of the men sitting at the white table roughly 15 minutes in to Thursday’s first-ever 6-Pound Burrito Challenge at Vintage Sports Grill.
Fork and knife in hands and chewing slowly, the men wanted to stop. But the competition had only just begun, and friendly banter was still being exchanged.
Giving up was not an option. Yet.
Only 20 minutes before the start of the challenge, councilmen Bob Johnson and Phil Katzakian, along with Ray Crow from the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, were talking about their strategies to prep for consuming the burrito the size of an infant.
“I drank water all day,” Crow said. “I ate a burrito last night in preparation for this. I watched four episodes of ‘Man vs. Food.’ I am ready.”
As the burritos were paraded out of the kitchen, Johnson looked at his meal and his mouth spread into a cautious smile.
After two meals already Thursday, Johnson knew taking in six pounds of meat, tortilla, beans and cheese would be difficult.
Katzakian remained stoic as his burrito was brought out. He let a grin slip here or there, but he too had already had lunch and breakfast.
When Crow’s burrito came forward, Johnson yelled out in protest. Crow’s burrito was bare. No guacamole, no sour cream, no sauce.
“What is that?” he said. “Look at that low-cal burrito.”
Crow graciously agreed to add roughly two pounds of cheese to his mound of beef and beans, and at the half-time mark of Game 5 in the NBA finals, the challenge commenced.
“The guac and the sour cream will get ya,” Crow said. “But I have six pounds of everything else.”
Johnson and Katzakian took a slow approach, eating their burritos in a gentlemanly way with a fork and knife.
Crow took to his 6-pound extravaganza with utensils at first, then fingers. The point was to win, not to be mannered.
“You know, we are sacrificing our lives for the Lodi economy,” Johnson said at one point as he shoveled another fork-full into his mouth around the 10-minute mark.
Ten minutes later, the table was getting quieter. Event organizer Jason Ojeda asked Johnson how he was doing, and Johnson mustered a laugh.
At 23 minutes, Crow leaned over behind Katzakian, still quietly eating through the first sixth of his burrito.
“There is no shame in surrender,” Crow said.
“I am about four grains of rice away from that,” Johnson replied.
Less than 30 seconds later, Johnson threw his fork down. Katzakian looked up at him, his fork of food still in his mouth.
“No más!” Johnson said, putting his hand to his stomach. “The burrito has won.”
Katzakian popped up, declaring his surrender, followed shortly by Crow.
While no man finished the entire thing — a feat that must be done to declare a true victor — Crow came out the “winner,” having eaten more burrito than the other contenders.
When asked how he felt, Katzakian smiled and thought for a moment before uttering one word.
“Full,” he said.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.