Farmingdale man wins pizza-eating contest
Focus, determination and a strong stomach.
That's what it takes to wolf down an 18-inch pie in 10 minutes.
Mike "The Skinny" Hoffman, 31, of Farmingdale proved to have the requisite skills Saturday afternoon, gobbling 8 1/2 slices at Joe's Pizzeria in Holbrook.
The restaurant's pizza-eating contest began in 2010 as a fun community event, manager Phil Donofrio said.
"Every year more and more people come," he said. "You always have that one guy who can't keep the food down or two people staring each down from across the table. It can get pretty crazy."
Saturday's event, which drew close to 100 spectators, took place in the parking lot and offered free music and food.
Ten participants, selected in a raffle from about 80 applicants, competed for the title of "Pizza King" and a $150 gift card.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of the contest table, taking photos and cheering on contestants.
Speed-eating techniques ranged from dipping slices into cups of water to downing two slices at a time. No one stopped during the 10-minute period, but most trailed well behind Hoffman.
No stranger to gastrointestinal challenges, Hoffman said he has participated in more than 30 eating competitions, downing everything from chicken wings to latkes.
His worst experience to date, he said, was the World Elvis Sandwich Eating Contest in New Jersey, where he had to eat a platter of fried peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches, washing them down with buttermilk.
He said he doesn't have a specific strategy and has even gotten to the point where he can "try to savor the food."
"I just heard about this contest and thought I'd give it a shot," he said of Saturday's competition.
"I've always been a fast eater," he added. "I don't really do anything special to prepare. Every meal is like preparation because I try to eat fast with everything."
Hoffman's tally was one slice shy of the contest's record of 9 1/2 slices, set in 2010 by Matt Lauria of Babylon. An 18-inch pie comes in 8 slices.