The hot dog-eating champion skips breakfast before a big event
Credit: Photo courtesy of EastMeetEast

If you know the name of one campetitive eater, it's probably Takeru Kobayashi. He holds eight Guinness Records and is the reigning champion for eating many foods very quickly, including hot dogs, rice balls, lobster rolls, cow brains, pizza, soba noodles, and grilled cheese sandwiches. When I met him yesterday, it was, appropriately, at a ramen-eating competition. The event, put on by the dating app EastMeetEast, was for New York-area singles who were willing to scarf as many bowls of ramen as they could within five minutes for the chance to win a dream date sponsored by EastMeetEast. Kobayashi was there to judge, and to demonstrate his skills.

To kick things off, Kobayashi ate three bowls of ramen as quickly as he could. The six contestants, most of whom has never competed in a competitive eating events, excitedly filmed Kobayashi as he slurped down the ramen in 19.6 seconds. It was a beautiful, terrifying sight. After two rounds of competition, the prevailing champion of the ramen-eating contest was a 33-year-old named Wayne. He ate 15 bowls in five minutes. While he was, presumably, settling his stomach, I talked to Kobayashi about what he eats for breakfast when he isn't eating, say, more than 50 hot dogs in a single sitting.

Extra Crispy: Did anyone impress you out there with their ramen technique?
Takeru Kobayashi:
I thought it was a good idea, the one contestant who poured all the broth in first before eating the ramen noodles. That was really smart

What do you eat for breakfast before a competition like this?
[Laughs] I often skip breakfast before a competition.

Do you have any tips for settling your stomach after eating way too much?
I usually just take a big rest. Sometimes I still eat dinner. But I just don't do anything hard.

On a regular day, when you're not competing, what would you have for breakfast?
I usually have a normal meal, like normal people do. I eat eggs with rice or sometimes bread. And yogurt, I love yogurt. My favorite drink is Royal Mint Tea.

What's your hangover cure?
I have a hangover only once in a blue moon, but sometimes. Only when I drink a lot. So I drink lots of water and take a supplement, of silymarin—it's an herb.

Do you have any tips for aspiring competitive eaters out there?
Don't be picky about food, first. You have to eat everything. And take competitive eating seriously. It's a dangerous sport, it's an extreme sport. You can die eating, from choking or something like that. So be careful.

When you're preparing for, say, a noodle-eating competition versus a hot dog competition, how do you train differently?
It depends on the time of the competition. In the hot dog competition, I have to expand my stomach so I have to train hard. In noodle competitions, it's not about the amount. It's about speed. So you have to train yourself to eat fast.

How about after this, are you planning on getting dinner?
Oh yeah. I'm still hungry!