Start Your Enzymes: Nisei Week Serves Up Gyoza Eating Contest This Saturday

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Nisei Week Queen Emily Folick supplies Joey Chestnut, left, and Pat Bertoletti during last year’s contest. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Day-Lee Foods is back as the title sponsor for the world-famous Nisei Week Gyoza Eating Championship.

The annual event, co-sponsored this year by Kikkoman, challenges eaters to chow down as many Day-Lee Pride gyoza (Japanese potstickers) as possible in 10 minutes.

The record, set in 2012 by returning champ Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, is 266 gyoza – that’s about 10 pounds of food. With even more prize money this year, Chestnut is determined to best his own mark and retain the title.

Part of the 73rd annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival, the eating championship is hosted by the Nisei Week Foundation and sanctioned by Major League Eating and the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. this Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center Plaza, located at 244 S. San Pedro St. in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district. Admission is free; limited seating and ample standing room will be available. Additional information can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

This year, a new amateur gyoza eating contest has been added, dubbed the Crazy Cuizine “Mid-August Madness,” pitting coed teams of students from local colleges — including UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State Long Beach — against each other for Southland bragging rights. Crazy Cuizine is a brand of Day-Lee Foods, and its Asian entrees can be found at grocery chains throughout Southern California. This contest will take place at 2:30 p.m.

After the amateur event, the field of MLE stars will line up and compete for a $6,000 cash purse. In addition, Malaysia Airlines will be awarding round-trip tickets to Japan to the top male and female competitors.

Chestnut will be defending his gyoza-eating title. He boasts seven consecutive Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog titles (2007-present) and in July consumed 69 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, setting a new world record. His competition will include last year’s second-place winner, Matt Stonie (ranked No. 4 by MLE), Bob Shoudt (No. 5), and Miki Sudo (No. 7). Competing for charity will be the 2012 Nisei Week Queen Emily Michi Iijima Folick and her court.

There’s one more exciting addition to this year’s Gyoza Eating Contest. Spectators for both events can visit food sampling booths to taste a variety of “wild and crazy” Crazy Cuisine gyoza. Possible menu items include pepperoni pizza potstickers, cheeseburger potstickers, lobster potstickers, and chicken & waffle potstickers. The potstickers will be available at the event for purchase while supplies last.

For more information, visit www.NiseiWeek.org.

Gyoza waiting to be eaten. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

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