Monday, August 24, 2009

Panda Sauce Eats Pasta Competition - 08/23/2009

I don't normally like to blog out of order but with an event of this magnitude how could I not? So without further delay we present tonight's main event, the first annual (and last) Panda Sauce Eats Pasta Challenge.

The Challenge: A three way Never Ending Pasta Bowl eating competition between Christine of folie à choisauce Danny of Kung Food Panda and Kevin of Kevin Eats

The Venue: Olive Garden @9253 Firestone Blvd, Downey CA. 90241 (562) 923-9773

The Rules: Whoever eats the most bowls of pasta wins. In the event of a tie, whoever eats more of the final bowl wins. Ordering rotates between the three competitors, but no pasta/sauce combination can be repeated. Competitors can take up to 20 minutes between orders of pasta. Falling two bowls behind the other competitors results in a loss. Failure to keep all the food down also results in a loss. Competitors may add whatever seasonings they wish to the dish, but other diners are not obligated to follow suit. Diners are free to eat or drink other food but it does not count towards the challenge. First person to lose pays for the entire meal at Olive Garden.

The Prize: 25-course custom chef's table menu at Providence.

For those who don't know the back story behind the bet, Danny posted his excitement at the return of Olive Garden's never ending pasta bowl. This led to much good-natured ribbing by Christine which in turn led to the original contest between them with the loser paying for both dinners. Kevin was a late addition to the competition and after much liquor-fueled bravado and trash talking the stakes were raised to a private dinner at Providence with the meal paid for by the losers.

Unlimited Salad and Breadsticks
Conventional wisdom would dictate never fill up on bread and salad. Indeed the boys followed this logic nibbling sparingly from plates of salad. Christine however defied common sense, starting with a full helping of salad and going through another bowl over the course of the meal.

Round 1: Linguine with Creamy Parmesan Florentine - Selected by Christine
I was so caught up in the competitive spirit, I forgot about taking the picture and just started eating. Surprisingly the whole group seemed to enjoy this pasta, the noodles were well cooked if a bit soft and the richness of the sauce was well balanced by the addition of spinach. The entire group polished this one off with ease and were eager to continue on with the challenge.

Round 2: Penne with Meat Sauce - Selected by Danny
A fairly safe selection by Danny, the penne is nothing to write home about, but the tangy meat sauce is a nice if pedestrian preparation. Not too difficult, and the boasts are beginning to fly in earnest.

Round 3: Orecchiette with Roasted Portabello Pomodoro - Selected by Kevin
Orecchiette or ear pasta is a round domed pasta shaped vaguely like a small ear (looked more like a hat to me but what do I know.) The pasta came out stuck together in clumps and tasted floury or undercooked at times. The paired sauce also sounded much better than it tasted. The doughy pasta and salty canned mushrooms made this painful to eat. In contrast to the last round all 3 competitors looked much less eager to continue with the tough fight ahead.

Round 4: Fettuccine Alfredo - Selected by Christine
Another classic, most nutrition guides tell you to avoid this one at all costs when dining out and they are right on the money. The pasta was decent and when combined with the sauce almost had a sweet butteriness. With no money at stake and no price to drive me on, I stopped midway through this bowl. Probably one of the better tasting selections but with over 1000 calories, not an easy one to get down. All three diners ate this one noticeably slower, taking breaks in between bites.

Round 5: Angel Hair with Five Cheese Marinara - Selected by Danny
Along with Round 3 this is up for worst dish of the night. The "noodles" came out in a large starchy mass while the sauce looked terrible and tasted worse. By this point, Danny was clearly falling behind; finishing right as the next bowl came. At the same time Christine established herself as the leader, finishing her pasta well before the other two.

Round 6: Whole Wheat Linguine with Marinara - Selected by Kevin
I expected the whole wheat linguine to be hideous and Christine's facial expression when she had her first bite confirmed it. Not having experienced it, I can only go by her tweet stating this course tasted like mush. Before even starting this course, Danny was sweating up a storm and appeared to be in serious distress, again only finishing as the next plate came to the table.

Round 7: Spaghetti with Creamy Parmesan Florentine - Selected by Christine
Having ordered all the available sauce choices, Christine chose to redo the first sauce, a lighter cream sauce with spinach. Probably the best tasting choice, Christine managed to finish hers in a few minutes. Kevin took about 15 minutes to get this one down, but finally managed to do so. After eating two bowls without a break, Danny took the entire 20 minutes before he had to order resting and finally called it quits after having one bite.

Round 8: Angel Hair with Roasted Portabello Pomodoro - Selected by Danny
Having thrown in the towel during the previous round, Danny took a perverse delight in ordering the worst pairing available for Kevin and Christine. Again the angel hair came out as a sticky mass, but this time the funk of mushroom assailed the two remaining competitors as they struggled to get the food down. Again Christine powered through hers, finishing in under 10 minutes. Kevin continued to struggle for the full 20 before giving up, leaving us with Christine as the winner.

Our third place finisher was Danny with six bowls. Interesting to note, of the people following this event on twitter, none expected Danny to emerge triumphant. See the relieved smile and flushed glow as Danny calls it quits. Apparently Danny passed out for 90 minutes after heading to his car to rest. The competition ended at 9 but he didn't leave till almost 11.

A valiant second place effort, Kevin finished a respectable 7.5 bowls and required 10 minutes in the car to recuperate before he was able to drive home. Watching him eat that last bowl was like watching a boxer push themselves relying on their spirit to keep them going but in the end it just wasn't enough

Congratulations to Christine "the Machine" Choi, winner of the Panda Sauce Eats competition. Finishing all 8 bowls while munching on salad the entire time makes the feat all the more impressive. Note the satisfied ladylike smile as she finishes her eighth and final bowl. Enjoy your dinner at Providence, you earned it!

I would have put the nutritional info for all three diners but it was made very clear to me that would result in swift and brutal retaliation.


kevinEats said...

An hour in the car??? More like 10 minutes spent listening to my Save Ferris CD.

And we want the nutritional info!

Anonymous said...

oh PULEASE u guys were both whining and crying in the restaurant before we left and saying how u guys needed to rest for ATLEAST an hour in ur cars before going anywhere =P

I'm telling u its all about the females and i higher threshold for pain =P I wanted it. I wanted it baaaadddddd lol good battle! can't wait for tuesday!! yippee!!! see u there!! :) :) :)

Anonymous said...

p.s. AWESOME play by play and write up, ryan! seriously, reading this made me feel like I was right there all over again (FML FML FML) =P

Daniel S. said...

This is unbelievably epic and was so entertaining to follow last night on Twitter. Congrats to Christine!

MyLastBite said...

Loved following this on Twitter last night. Big Eating GIRLS RULE! LOL

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Haha. Great play by play. I think Christine was the clear favorite early one. But even I was amazed with 8 bowls. Egads!

Nutritional information please! 10,000 calories?

Aaron said...

Christine the Machine. Nice.

Interestingly, none of the descriptions of Olive Garden's pastas were that abhorrent. Perhaps this is good press for the chain restaurant.

Yoko said...

What great fun to read. Congrats, Christine!

Protocol Snow said...

The hype for this contest was intense. Congrats Christine!

burumun said...

Indeed, we all don't doubt Christine's eating prowess but 8 bowls plus salad is something else!

Though earlier I wasn't who would rise triumphant (we also know Kevin can eat!), now it's clear. Oh, and, not that we don't love Danny anyway.

Ryan, did this feed your soul? :P

kevinEats said...

Here's the tally, with % of FDA recommended intake in parens:

Calories: 3853 (193%)
Fat (g): 150 (231%)
Sat. Fat (g): 79 (397%)
Sodium (mg): 4551 (190%)
Carbs (g): 487 (162%)
Fiber (g): 39 (156%)

Anonymous said...

thank u for that, kevin

*smacks kevin 5 across his face*

how are u feeling today? whats ur intake been? =P

Tangbro1 said...

kevinEats: Fine Fine... I'll adjust the number so you look less weak.

choisauce: It was an impressive victory, clearly the dominant eater. I tried to capture your disgust with the dishes but not having tasted them I couldn't really bring out all your loathing.

Daniel S: Glad you were entertained. It would have been nice to have a live cheering gallery present.

MyLastBite: I gotta say I didn't expect Christine to pull it off but she did so convincingly, I don't think the final score actually represented the true difference in ability.

Wandering Chopsticks: Glad you enjoyed the post. Kevin has posted the nutritional info with the assumption that the refills are 60% of the size of the first bowl.

Aaron: Thats my fault if the disgust didn't make it into the posts but having not eaten the later courses all I could do was repeat what they said about the food and I think they were more focused on shoveling it in their mouths than analyzing the taste.

Yoko: Glad you liked it.

Protocol Snow: I was quite surprised by the large following, I didn't think many people would be following this on Twitter.

Burumun: The final tally was indeed impressive. I heard Sam predicted Christine would win from the get go. It was incredibly entertaining watching the three of them eat themselves to an early grave but I felt a bit guilty afterward for taking joy in their suffering.

kevinEats: You shouldn't have cut the numbers by 40% it would have made the nutritional info even more obscene.

choisauce: Come on the numbers weren't so bad, Kevin adjusted them down. I talked to him around 4PM and he still hadn't eaten today yet.

Kung Food Panda said...

The best thing that came out of it was probably the fact I'll probably never (at least I hope) visit OG again....People wait 1+ hour for this shit??

Congrats to Christine, I should never have doubted her in the first place, she's a monster!

Also, I think it was more like a nap of 90mins in my car so I could digest =P

Tangbro1 said...


I was dismayed by the wait too though not surprised at the number of people. Normal people probably consider OG a nice dinner out.

I'll correct the time you spent sleeping... but for the record 90 minutes doesn't sound any better than 2 hours :-P

kevinEats said...

Christine: You're quite welcome. I'm feeling fine now, though I didn't eat anything except dinner today. ;)

Danny: "People wait 1+ hour for this shit??" -- I was shocked too; I expected the place to be nearly empty. That is indeed a sad commentary on the state of American gastronomy.

Wesley said...

Panda Sauce? Nice. I can't believe you guys let Christine win - and she ate salad.

Kung Food Panda said...

Christine PWNED us! Simple as that =)

Pepsi Monster said...

Sorry Danny, I never thought you had a chance against the Bottomless Stomach or the Human Garbage Disposal (Christine).

Hey Ryan, remembered Din Sin World? My gosh, that woman was still eating after everyone was carb'd out. That was huge hint on how much she can eat. Danny was there that night too and he was stuffed while watching Christine eat. That was an omen! LOL

Anonymous said...

pepsi monster,

if the food is in front of me, I will eat it. no dumpling in sight is safe from me =P

time and speed are also the key. honestly, after reading ur tweet about eating del taco last night on ur way after dinner @ bistro lq, I can say, THATS DISGUSTING!!! lol I was painfully full driving home and even now as I type this, I dont even wanna think of my next meal. ur a champ and last night I was mortal lol I'm dying to know though, what'd u order at del taco?? lol

Pepsi Monster said...


You got to admit, that 2 Del Beef Burritos from Del Taco for $4 is a bargain. I was stuffed at Bistro LQ, but by the time I got home 45 minutes later, I was hungry again.

Can't explain why.

All you can eat shrimp fare at Red Lobsters. Anyone up for it? Kung Food Panda??

ilikejane said...

OMG...I was LOL'ing the whole time as I was reading this. LOCO! BTW, GIRLS know how we Korean girls do!

...btw, next time, how about holding a classier AYCE event? say, KBBQ? ;-D

Hi Ryan!