Binge-eating burger competitions: meat the contenders

Jason Dowling
Riley Murphy AKA Chompamatic and Cal Stubbs AKA HulkSmashFood at Burgled in Carrum Downs They are pros at eating ...
Riley Murphy AKA Chompamatic and Cal Stubbs AKA HulkSmashFood at Burgled in Carrum Downs They are pros at eating competitions.  Photo: Penny Stephens

Eleven meat patties, pulled pork, a cheese croquet, bacon, layers of extra cheese, onions and pickles in a "burger tower monstrosity of deliciousness" - welcome to the eating games. 

While others toil away on the cricket field or at fun runs on weekends, three Melbourne men are battling it out at the table - chomping through more food than some people eat in a week.  

Cal Stubbs (@hulksmashfood), Riley Murphy (@chompamatic), and Issac Martin (@issac_eatsalot) spend weekends carving up Melbourne burger joints as  @the_chew_crew

Not on the menu - 11 patties, pulled pork, cheese croquet, bacon, extra cheese layered, onions and pickles in a burger ...
Not on the menu - 11 patties, pulled pork, cheese croquet, bacon, extra cheese layered, onions and pickles in a burger tower - Dandenong Pavilion Photo: supplied

These real-life Homer Simpsons met at a bratwurst eating competition and quickly became chow buddies - "hitting up burger places that do crazy big burgers".

On Tuesday, Mr Stubbs and Mr Murphy, visited the Burgled burger venue in Carrum.

With no preparation they each ploughed through a burger that included eight beef patties, 16 slices of cheese, 24 slices of bacon and six fried onion rings - these special burgers are four times the size of the biggest burger on the menu.  

Despite not being prepared to smash a burger today, Cal won, eating this burger in 5 min 47 sec.
Despite not being prepared to smash a burger today, Cal won, eating this burger in 5 min 47 sec.  Photo: Penny Stephens

Mr Stubbs, 38, said they eat healthily during the week, then visit up to eight venues over the weekend, often providing burger reviews on social media.  

"In two days we'll each get though five kilos of meat a day, it's pretty crazy," Mr Stubbs said. 

He expects the next competition to be at Burgled burgers in April with an attempt at a new Australian patty record in one burger -  22 meat patties, each 150 grams.  

The monster eating bug hit Mr Stubbs when he saw a competition advertised at Hofbrauhaus Melbourne - a 1.5 kilogram pork schnitzel, half a kilo of chips and a stein of beer which entrants had to eat in 45 minutes.

"I managed to do it in 39 minutes and I found out only about 13 people in the country had managed to do it out of thousands," he said. 

"Six months later I went back ... I think I did it in 12 minutes," he said. 

The three travel interstate and overseas entering eating competitions.

Mr Stubbs will head to Tasmania next week to enter a chicken-wing eating competition. 

"I think the record is 111 chicken wings, you just keep eating them until you are full. So I'll go and break that," he said. 

Another member of the chew crew, Riley Murphy, said he is attracted to the wow factor - the disbelief in people's eyes.

He said venues often set them a challenge and on a recent visit to the Dandenong Pavilion staff asked "would you be interested in heading big today ... we can never say no", so they munched through an 11-pattie burger (don't ask for it, it's not on the menu). 

"I really like the element that people say it can't be done. I am only a small guy myself, and the fact that we can do things, it's almost superhuman in a funny sense," Mr Murphy said.  

Mr Stubbs said the group prepare by drinking three lites of water quickly about six hours before a competition. 

"I started by sculling a litre of water and have that sit in your stomach and stretch and then you build up ... now I am at 3.2 litres ... you don't want to do any more than 3.5 litres because after that you can drown your organs ... it can get dangerous," he said.   

He said the water stretches the stomach. 

They also have a big meal 24 hours before a competition and then don't eat again before the event.

Yes, there are health warnings about this level of eating. 

VicHealth dietician Sonya Stanley said "regular binge eating and consuming excess calories from foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and added sugars, increases the risks of becoming overweight or obese and developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes".

"As part of balanced eating, it's ok to enjoy a treat occasionally and in small amounts but overeating and consuming large portions of unhealthy foods is not recommended," she said. 

The health issues are not lost on the group and the three exercise regularly. 

"We have check-ups every three months, we go and get our blood checked by the doctors ... if anything is off in that three months then we will rein it back in," Mr Stubbs said. 

"When you are doing that amount of food and doing that with water it can get dangerous so you have to take it seriously," he said. 

Mr Stubbs, said he probably has a year or two left competing - "it does take it out of you". 

Research released by the University of New South Wales last month indicated binge eating on weekends could be just as bad for the gut as eating badly all the time. 

The researchers found intermittent exposure to junk food three days a week was sufficient to extensively shift the gut microbiota towards the pattern seen in obese rats consuming the diet continuously. 

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