One look at flight attendant Sarah Ow’s petite size and you might think she’s a woman who’s really careful with what she eats. The 49kg “bottomless pit” is really one of Singapore’s most famous competitive eaters. Go Away speaks to her ahead of Cathay Malls’ Epic Eater 2016 competition.
10 plates of chicken rice in under half an hour? Wipe out a 3.2kg burger all on your own? Just the thought of eating so much food is enough to make many of us feel full! And yet, Sarah Ow has achieved these feats with nary a bead of sweat on her forehead. Coming up on August 6 2016, Sarah will be appearing in a special showcase at The Cathay to show off her eating prowess.
At Cathay Malls’ first-ever competitive eating event, amateur competitive eaters will be trying to polish off 4 special maki rolls by Maki-san in as short a time as possible. Sarah, along with another popular competitive eater Zermatt Neo, will then come on to show the crowd how the professionals do it. But first, a quick interview with her to understand the sport better:
1. What is competitive eating? Is it more than eating as much food as possible in the quickest time or is there more to it?
Competitive eating is mostly regarded as a form of extreme sport that involves a person ingesting an unusually large amount of food either judged by mass or within a pre-decided amount of time. Most challenges fall either into a set amount of food (doesn’t have to be a lot, for example, 15 chicken wings) in the fastest time possible or a set amount of food (usually a large quantity like 3kg) within a defined time range of about, say, 1 hour.
2. As a competitive eater, how do you “train” for the sport?
The “training” is food dependent. Some foods require more thought and “technique” for them to be ingested quickly.
A few of these would be hotdogs, steamboat/hotpot challenges and for some vegetables or generally foods that require a lot of chewing or are made of several components. Personally I prefer not to train for challenges and tend to dive into them head first.
I have, however, attempted to “train” with foot-long subs just to gauge how quickly I can finish 4 foot-long sandwiches. The timing gets satisfyingly quicker with each practice. Bread is hard to swallow in huge amounts if you compare it with, say, eating a lot of soft boiled tofu in the same amount. But once you get the technique down pat you’ll get more efficient.
3. Prior to a competition, do you go on a fast? What do you do to prepare yourself for it?
I usually try to include the challenge into my meals. If it’s a challenge right after getting up I tend to just have a coffee or a warm drink to clear the system right before. If it’s something late in the day and I’m hungry, I’ll have something light. I don’t usually prepare by fasting.
4. Are there types of food that make for an easier competition? What kinds of food are the worst for competitive eating?
Every competitive eater is different.
I personally can’t take chilli and don’t do well with spicy foods.
Dry and starchy foods are taxing on both the jaw and the capacity of the eater. Fluids are usually taken to quickly push food down but it also means they add weight to the food one is consuming.
Foods that are protein- or fat-heavy tend to bring about taste fatigue quickly. Foods that are high in fibre tend to fill the stomach really fast too.
5. Do you feel that competitive eating is really a marketing gimmick that leads to the wastage of a lot of food?
I do agree the competitive eating could be used as a marketing gimmick, but how the issue of food wastage is handled is really up to the company that organises it. [Ed’s note: Cathay Malls will be giving contestants the option of taking home unfinished food from the Epic Eater contest.]
6. Where do the calories from all that food go to?
By walking a lot. Also, carrying ridiculous amounts of groceries home. (A 7-minute walk home carrying about 20kg of food and liquids can really make one break a sweat). I do grocery shopping about 3 times a week.
Eating in excess, especially competitive amounts, food also tend not to get digested properly and are removed from the system pretty fast.
The Epic Eater 2016 finals will be happening at The Cathay on August 6 2016, from 2pm to 5pm. Competitors will be given the option to take home any unfinished food. For more details, visit http://www.cineleisure.com.sg/epiceater.