Bertoletti searches for new world record at Boonville eating contest

Friday, June 22, 2012 | 8:44 p.m. CDT

Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti is around food all the time. 

Bertoletti works as a chef for a Chicago catering company, runs a food truck with his friend and also eats as a competitive eater for Major League Eating.


WHAT: Major League Eating Isle of Capri Boonville World Boneless Buffalo Wing Eating Championship

WHERE: The competition will take place in the Events Center at the Isle of Capri Boonville

WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday

Admission is free

The competitors in the contest will be Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, Tim "Eater X" Janus, Aaron "A-train" Osthoff, Andrew "the Bear" Kogutkiewicz, Matthew Raible, Greg Degeneffe, Steve Ramirez, Mark Williams, Mag Goodwin and Damon Serignet.

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"It's definitely a love-hate relationship with food," Bertoletti said.

Bertoletti, the second-ranked competitive eater in the world, is competing at Saturday's Major League Eating Isle of Capri Boonville World Boneless Buffalo Wing Eating Championship.

At 6 feet 2 inches tall and only 190 pounds, the slender Bertoletti doesn't look like the typical competitive eater. He sports a mohawk and wears headphones during competitions to focus on his eating.

"The mohawk is something to separate myself from the crowd and to try and intimidate the new people a little bit," Bertoletti said.

The eater got his start eight years ago when his sister entered him into a competition. He was hooked immediately.

"I had always wanted to try it," he said. "I just needed that step forward."

Bertoletti quickly rose up the Major League Eating ranks and now owns the most world records in the sport. Bertoletti says it's "pretty awesome" to own so many. Of his almost 40 records, he says his personal favorite is eating 275 pickled jalapenos in eight minutes.

The 26-year-old eater is the defending champion in the boneless buffalo wing eating championship. Last year he set a world record by eating 9 pounds of wings in 10 minutes.

"The key is to turn your brain off," Bertoletti said. "There are so many reasons not to continue eating and to tell yourself you're full. The brain is the limiting factor."

This year, Bertoletti will battle nine other competitors including 2010 buffalo wing eating champion and third-ranked Tim "Eater X" Janus as well as 12th-ranked Aaron "A-train" Osthoff.

With so many competitions throughout the year, Bertoletti says he tries to live a healthy lifestyle to combat the calories he takes in during competition. He regularly goes on 10-12 mile bike rides and maintains a healthy diet.

To prepare for competitions, Bertoletti practices with the food he will eat and tries to drink as much water as possible to keep his stomach expanded.

"The key is to go in with a really good game plan and focus on what you're doing," Bertoletti said. "It's more of a mental game."

Bertoletti says he doesn't start feeling too bad until he has downed 5 or 6 pounds.

"At that point there's usually either stress on the stomach or back," Bertoletti said.

But Bertoletti says the pain is the worst when the competition is finally over.

"When it's all over you don't even want to look at that food again."

Supervising editor is Matt Veto

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