On Saturday, Aug. 18, the 72nd annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival will host the fifth annual Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship, an official Major League Eating (MLE) event, featuring Joey Chestnut, winner of five straight Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championships, facing returning champion Patrick “Deepdish” Bertoletti of Chicago.
The contest will take place as part of the Nisei Week Plaza Festival, which includes food, merchandise vendors, entertainment, and the Nisei Week Rubik’s Cube Open.
The event includes a field of MLE stars and a couple local amateurs who will take aim at a $5,500 cash purse and a stomach full of delicious gyoza. Competitors will have 10 minutes to eat as many Day-Lee Pride brand gyoza as possible. The event takes place at 2:30 p.m. at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.
Chestnut, 27, gained fame in 2005 by defeating hot dog eating champion Takeru Kobayashi of Japan for the first time. Since then, Chestnut, a San Jose native, has gone on to win five straight Nathan’s mustard belts and comes to Little Tokyo as the undisputed competitive eating champion.
A culinary school graduate and ranked second in the world by MLE, Bertoletti holds 39 eating world records, more than anyone in the history of competitive eating. This includes the world record for eating 264 gyoza claimed at the 2011 gyoza eating championship.
Known for his mohawked appearance and frantic eating style, he placed third this year at the Nathan’s Fourth of July contest on Coney Island.
Other eating competitors will include rising MLE stars Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (#6 world ranked) and Adrian Morgan (#7). Stonie placed second in last year’s competition.
Other contestants from the Nathan’s contest include Erik “the Red” Denmark (#11), Michelle Lesco (#19), and Mary Bowers.
Rounding out the professional field are Kevin “LA Beast” Strahle (#16), Juan Rodriguez (#26), Dax “the Ginger” Swanson (#34), and 2011 amateur gyoza eating champion Naoyuki Kamiya.
Competing for charity will be the 2011 Nisei Week Queen and her court.
Event sponsors include Day-Lee Foods, Chop Suey Café, and Beard Papas. Admission is free but seating is extremely limited, so arrive early. There will be plenty of standing room available.
Registration for the championship is closed, but those interested in participating in the Nisei Week Rubik’s Cube Open can register at www.cubingusa.com.