Before His State Fair Battle, Kobayashi Talks Eating Raw Cow Brains, Battling Bears
The competitive eater and hot dog champion of the galaxy, Takeru Kobayashi (Kobi), is in town for the State Fair. This morning I met him and his people for a little chat.
Kobi with cops, but he'd never get arrested because he's too nice. Except that one time he was arrested, but those charges were dropped.
First things first: nicest guy. Just really so polite and nice. He looks intense and insane in some of his pictures, but that's just his game face. Over coffee, he's docile as a kitten.
He's working on his English, so we used an interpreter some, Maggie. (Really nice girl.) We talked about baseball, football, grizzly bears, tequila and the importance of texture.
Here's goes it between Kobi, Maggie and Frank Zaccanelli, one of the new owners of Hoffman Hot Dogs.
You recently switched over from Nathan's to Hofmann Hot Dogs. How's that transition? Are different hot dogs harder to eat?
Maggie translates: I actually never had a relationship with Nathan's. It was just me going to competitions and performing. Now I have a relationship with Hofmann's, I feel like I'm part of a family now. The product itself, there's no comparison, there's nothing to talk about.
What's the most difficult food you've had to eat in a competition?
Kobi: I hate brains.
What animal was that?
Kobi: Cow brains.
Maggie: Raw cow brains.
Is that OK to eat? Are people supposed to eat raw cow brains?
Kobi: Never eating it again.
What about the bear you competed against? Was that your toughest competitor ever?
Kobi: Yes. (The bear smoked Kobi, then stood on the table and growled at him.)
Do you ever eat hot dogs for leisure?
Maggie translates: Yes, actually I do. Since I've teamed with Hofmann, I like to eat them.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a competitive eater?
Kobi: I went to a curry restaurant and ate 11 pounds of curry rice in 20 minutes.
Maggie: It was challenge menu. There was a certain amount, but instead of eating just that amount, he ate 11 pounds.
Do you have any advice for budding competitive eaters?
Maggie translates: Make sure to prepare a lot of water situated close to you so you can grab it right away. A key point is to make sure that texture-wise it can be swallowed easily. You have to make sure you can maneuver it down easily.
I know a guy (wink wink, Moose) who slams a shot of tequila after eating contests.
Kobi: Tequila? Wow... (It should be noted that "tequila" was, hands-down, Kobi's most well pronounced English word.)
How do you train?
Kobi: I run. I exercise. Bench press, squats,...
Frank: He use to be a competitive weight-lifter.
Maggies: He weighed about 70 pounds more back then.