I’m always up for a good eating challenge, and Columbus is certainly home to some pretty great ones. I’ve defeated the Dagwood at Ohio Deli, but honestly with the number of folks who can boast the same accomplishment, I feel like that’s become more of like a warm up to the big boys.
For those who haven’t participated in, or watched an eating challenge before, here’s a quick tutorial:
There are three main formats to an eating challenge –
1. Quantity of food eaten in a specified time period
2. Completion of a predetermined meal or amount of food in a specified time period, and
3. Consumption of food based on heat or flavor intensity
Because I’m a major weenie when it comes to really hot or spicy foods, I usually focus on the first two types when selecting a challenge, which is what drew me to my latest quest – to defeat a pizza so colossal that, out of the dozens of attempts there have been to topple this gargantuan, it’s only been conquered one time in history….it’s the Mega Meat Challenge at Joseppi’s Pizza.
Joseppi’s is a local chain of four pizza shops, located primarily on the west side of town. I’ve been to their shop on W. Broad Street many times, and even wrote a blog post about a year and a half ago about their lunchtime pizza buffet (you can read it here). The pizza is absolutely delicious, and from the very first time I saw the poster in their dining room advertising this contest (below), which daringly stares me down like a hungry predator every time I walk into the shop, I knew this was a challenge I needed to accept….
Joseppi’s main store in Lincoln Village is their only location that hosts this mega pizza challenge. It’s a hefty one, so the rules allow a team of two competitors exactly one hour to down an entire 28″ Joseppi’s Mega Meat pizza. The prizes for completing the challenge are lucrative, and make the attempt all the more enticing. This past summer, Jim from CMH Gourmand and I decided that we should team up in order to defeat the Goliath pie. Jim, being the Columbus pizza connoisseur and experienced eating challenge competitor that he is, was the perfect partner for such a feat. We finally decided upon a date and time to meet up at the store and try our hands (er…our bellies) at the competition. We were hungry and ready to put away some grub.
This is Jeff Thompson. He’s the manager of the W. Broad Joseppi’s location. Jeff’s family started the shop in 1969, and is now in it’s 3rd generation of management of the company. He’s been working for his family’s business since he was 12 years old, and knows how to build an amazing pizza. Jeff showed us every single step of the process as he made our competition pie. We chatted with him quite a bit about the history of the shop, his other locations, and Columbus pizza history in general. Here, he showed us the crust for our pizza about to be piled high with meat and cheese…
This is a shot of the pie at about the halfway point of building. Crust, sauce, provolone cheese, old world pepperoni, ham, and italian sausage. Still to be applied is more shredded provolone, ground beef, and bacon!!
And here’s a couple of close-up’s of the finished product. The crust is a thin crust, but not cracker-like. We sliced a piece in half to show the layers of meat inside each piece. When contemplating a 28″ pizza, one could envision the possibility of consuming such a monster. But when you take into account that the pizza was at least a half inch thick, the task becomes quite the chore.
As the pizza arrived at the table, we were feeling pretty confident. The rules were laid out for us: We were allowed one hour to finish. We could get up, walk around, stretch, or whatever else we needed to do to help digest, but if we left the dining area, the competition was over. We were allotted an unlimited supply of water or fountain soda. No one else was allowed to sit at or approach the table, and finally….
…If we had to use these, it was over.
We sized up our challenger before we dug in. Jeff’s recommendation was to have some dipping sauces on hand in case we needed to break up the flavors a bit. We opted for ranch dressing and hot sauce. Jim counted the pieces before we started…a total of 59. Surely one of us could handle 29, and the other 30, right? After letting the pizza cool for five minutes or so, we notified Jeff that we were ready.
We dug in just before 8:00, and started off strong. Jim and I each had an outer row gone before we knew it. The pizza itself had great flavor. All of the meats made each bite a real pleasure. The rim of the crust was golden brown, and sort of just melted in our mouths, instead of being hard. We each started on a side, and did well for a while, but as we started on our second row in, we started slowing down. Slowly but surely we fought onward. A few more pieces in and we were slowly hitting that dreaded wall.
Sadly, at 38 minutes in, Jim and I had to tap out. We had hit that wall head on, and knew there was no way we would recover. Even after stretching, and getting up for a few minutes, we weren’t able to push forward. Man, I was stuffed.
The Mega Meat pizza really is an incredibly delicious pizza. I’m glad I had the opportunity to make this attempt, and haven’t ruled out another go at it in the future. I don’t really have any advice for anyone contemplating this challenge. It’s a monster. Truly. I’d say, find a great partner like we did, and go for it. If you love meat pizzas, this one is probably one of the tastiest, and most filling ones you’ll find in Columbus. And If you love leftover cold pizza for breakfast, fail the test and you’ll certainly have plenty. Enjoy!!
To read CMH Gourmand’s post about our epic endeavor, click HERE!!
If you want to try Joseppi’s Mega Meat Challenge, or if you just want to check out one of their other tasty pies, check out their website here for their shop locations.