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Kobi fills up in Barrie

Marg. Bruineman

Sometimes all it takes is something old-fashioned, like a pie eating contest, to resonate with people.

In Barrie, Sunday, pizza pie with tomato sauce, oregano and cheese was on the menu at a spectacle which attracted a prize-winning eater from the United States, another from Mississauga and 10 others, including a local couple.

"We just heard about it... and we decided to come check it out," said 13-year-old Kellie Antonia who brought her parents and a couple of friends to PIE restaurant Sunday afternoon. "Not a whole lot to do on a crappy day."

The rain was unrelenting, yet a crowd exceeding 100 people gathered behind the south-end restaurant, seeking shelter under tents and umbrellas to witness the event.

"We're at full capacity inside," pointed out restaurant part owner, Sarah Feltis.

Along with the local crowd, the event - and qualifying events - attracted a great deal of media attention. That was the whole idea, said Feltis.

"We're still in the honeymoon stages of the restaurant" and trying to attract more customers and attention.

The concept initially tied in with the upcoming municipal election. But the restauranteurs thought it might be fun to see if Takeru Kobayashi, known throughout the United States for winning eating contests, would be game.

He was, and the whole thing picked up steam. Qualifying events were held and 12 contestants were chosen.

Kobayashi was escorted to the event in an orange Lamborghini. Like the other contestants, he wore a PIE T-shirt, but his was custom cut into a V-neck with no sleeves, emphasizing his small and muscular physique.

The contestants lined up along the table and instead of sitting, they all stood preparing for the eating to begin, prompting an observer to beg the question: Why stand?

Another observer, his chest tattoo showing clearly under his drenched T-shirt, then espoused this theory that food is easier to digest while standing.

Just then, Kobayashi sat. He later explained that the table height prompted him to sit for better eating instead.

And the contest was on.

In 12 minutes, Kobayashi downed 10 pizzas sliced into 40 pieces.

His big competitor, "Furious Pete" Czerwinski, who once ate a 72-ounce steak, managed 29 pieces. Barrie Baycat Jake Hines decided to enjoy the moment and the pizza, eating just four pieces.

Kobayashi, his travelling expenses covered by the restaurant, won the $1,500 prize. It's unclear what he'll do with his other prizes - a prime parking spot and free pizza for a year.

Lara Martin, a psychology major at Laurentian University at Georgian College, the only female who participated, downed 11 pieces, while her boyfriend, Kyle Fawcett, finished 14.

"I feel like I'm going to throw up," she said after the event, appearing to some during the final stages of the event as if she just might.

"I like pizza, I'm Italian," said contestant Giuseppe Giglilotti from Angus.

"But I don't want to eat any for a while."

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