The Silver Slipper Casino will pay homage to a local record holder and welcome those looking to break that record in the first Silver Slipper World Meat Pie-Eating Championship.
The competitive eating contest will be at 2 p.m. March 5 at the casino in Bay St. Louis. It is being held in memory of the late Boyd "Bayou Boyd" Bulot, a Bay man who set a world record that still stands -- 16 6-ounce Natchitoches meat pies in 10 minutes.
That's 6 pounds of empanada filled with beef and pork.
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut is the second-best competitive eater as ranked by Major League Eating, and he is looking to break Bulot's record. Chestnut enters about 20 competitions a year, and he loves what he does for a living. In a recent phone interview, he told the Sun Herald he had never had a meat pie, but it turns out the food is less relevant than technique when it comes to competitive eating.
Chestnut is 6-foot-1 and about 240 pounds, depending on whether he's fasting or feasting. He said he gorges himself to stretch his stomach before an event and then fasts for two days. It's a technique he's learned over many years of competing.
Chestnut started his eating odyssey at age 21 when he realized he would get a free hotel room if he entered a lobster-eating competition. Without practicing, he finished third.
"I had never eaten lobster before. I was eating the guts; I was making a mess of it," he said. "I didn't give it much thought. I thought competitive eating was weird, but then I became a fan of it."
His first win came in 2005 when he downed 6.3 pounds of deep-fried asparagus in 11.5 minutes. Other wins, in various time limits, include eating 32½ grilled cheese sandwiches and 182 chicken wings.
He estimates he's set about 40 records, but his proudest moment was setting a world record in the nationally televised Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest by eating 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.
"That's going to be a hard one to beat," he said.
At age 32, Chestnut is acclimated to the sport in mind and body. Five years ago, he gave up his job in construction management to become a full-time competitive eater.
"I became addicted to winning and traveling. I eat and I win; it's not even work to me. I love it," he said.
One might think forcing that much food on oneself could turn one away from that particular food, but Chestnut said that's not the case. For example, he had a bad competitive experience with the richness of crab cakes, but he still enjoys them. Some people on the Coast might relate to his affection for shrimp -- he's eaten as much as 13 pounds at once. It's his competitive food of choice because it digests quickly and cleanly, he said. The only food he says he will not eat competitively is the spicy Korean dish kimchi.
Chestnut said he has eaten to the point of nausea, but he writes it off like a quarterback might put a game with multiple interceptions behind him. As for long-term health issues, he said that is always on his mind.
"It's absolutely on my mind," he said. "My weight fluctuates and I put my body through a lot. At times I feel crappy, but I'm in tune with my body. I know when I'm pushing too hard and I know when I'm ready to ingest large amounts of food. I usually know before a contest if I'm going to win; I can feel it."
As for his peers, he said competitive eaters are like a brotherhood with experiences to which no one else can relate. That being the case, competitions are like a fun-filled reunion.
"After a contest, if someone has a hotel room we will all go pass out for four or five hours and then go get drinks," he said. "It's definitely a fraternity because we relate to each other and only we know how we're feeling."
Chestnut will face 11 challengers in this contest, which is sanctioned by Major League Eating. They will face off for 10 minutes as they vie for their share of $5,000 in cash prizes.
The event also will feature music by Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Seating is limited and bringing folding chairs is recommended. Admission is free.