News / Toronto

World Poutine Eating Championship raises $50,000, crowns new winner

Carmen Cincotti takes home the trophy after consuming 20. 25 pounds of poutine.

Darrien Thomas, of Oshawa, (left) and Kyle Bice participate in the amateur category of the annual Smoke Poutinerie's World Poutine Eating Championship Saturday, Oct 14 at Yonge-Dundas Square. Thomas took first place and Bice finished second.

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Darrien Thomas, of Oshawa, (left) and Kyle Bice participate in the amateur category of the annual Smoke Poutinerie's World Poutine Eating Championship Saturday, Oct 14 at Yonge-Dundas Square. Thomas took first place and Bice finished second.

They came, they saw, they shovelled. None of them vomited — publicly.

In defiance of all good nutritional sense, the World Poutine Eating Championship returned to Yonge-Dundas Square — the “spiritual hub of competitive poutine eating,” according to event MC Sam Barclay of Major League Eating — for its eighth iteration on Saturday afternoon, gifting thousands of Torontonians with free tubs of poutine while also dropping $50,000 in the coffers of the children-with-disabilities charity Friends of We Care.

Carmen Cincotti of East Windsor, N.J., wound up taking the 2017 “pro” title at the end of the day by eating 20.25 pounds of french fries, cheese curds and gravy served in 1.5-pound boxes from local chain Smoke’s Poutinerie.

That was still shy of the world-record consumption at 25.5 pounds but, hey, that’s still a hell of a lot of poutine.

“Just another day on the job for me,” said second-time competitor Cincotti, 24, who earned $3,000 and an enormous trophy cobbled together from things like cassette decks and Atari 2600 joysticks for his gastrointestinal fortitude.

“I’ll tell you right now, last year I felt like I was going to fall over and die. Today, I think I was a little bit more prepared. I can stand up. I can walk around. So, for the most part, I enjoyed it. Maybe I won’t enjoy it later, but for now I’m enjoying it.”

Cincotti is the “No. 2 eater in the world,” just behind glutton’s glutton Joey Chestnut, according to Major League Eating statistics, but you’d never guess it from looking at his decidedly compact 150-pound frame.

He was one of the smallest participants in Saturday’s poutine-a-thon, in fact, despite being the sort of chap who can choke down 62 wieners in 10 minutes — as he did earlier this year for a second-place finish (behind Chestnut) in the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. What, pray tell, is his secret?

“Close my eyes and pray that it doesn’t come back up. Just keep shovin’ it down,” he said. “I wish there was a technique.

“For this, though, the gravy really softens up the food so you just put it in your mouth and it can go right down . . .

“This is one of my favourite contests, for sure. There are other contests where about halfway through I just wanna drop the food and walk away from the table, but for this contest after, like, one minute and nine seconds I felt like I could go for another 10 minutes. It really speaks to the food itself.”

Veronic Boggia of Montreal competes in the 2017 World Poutine Eating Champonship at Yonge-Dundas Square.

BEN RAYNER/ Torstar News Service

Veronic Boggia of Montreal competes in the 2017 World Poutine Eating Champonship at Yonge-Dundas Square.

On the “amateur” side, 18-year-old Darrien Thomas of Orillia — last year’s third-place finisher in the amateur competition — came up tops, consuming 4.5 pounds of poutine in 10 minutes. He, too, professed backstage to be feeling tip-top after his exertions despite also being of relatively slender stature compared to some of his competitors.

“Yeah, yeah, I feel good. It’s the pre-chew: you just squeeze it with your fist and just put it in so you don’t have to chew as much,” he said. “It’s better if you’re skinny because your stomach can stuff a lot bigger. You don’t have that belt of fat.”

Smoke’s Poutinerie founder Ryan Smolkin, whose gravy-streaked empire now takes in 150 locations on both sides of the border — including a newly opened shop in Pearson airport’s Terminal 1 — expected to give away somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 boxes of poutine by the end of the day.

“It’s about giving back,” he said, noting that last year’s 20,000-strong attendance for the World Poutine Eating Championship’s made it the No. 2 largest Major League Eating event behind the 101-year-old Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest. “You see the amount of people who are coming out and having fun.

“Have some fun. Just have a little bit of a good time. Everybody forgets how to have that once in a while. That’s why I always say that’s our anthem: ‘Nothin’ But a Good Time’ by Poison. You work hard, you play hard. You’ve gotta have some fun, too.”

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