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Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti and Tim “Gravy” Brown stand in Jake Melnick’s Tap, oblivious to the beer-swilling crowd and flashing cameras. Sporting a white lab coat, surgical gloves and a precisely gelled Mohawk, Bertoletti has just eaten 52 of Melnick’s XXX hot wings—a new world record. Brown—whose drenching competitive style led to his nickname—has come in second. Yet these wins don’t compare to the men’s biggest achievement of late. That would be their new food truck, Glutton Force Five.
What compelled the world’s second-(Bertoletti) and eighth-ranked (Brown) competitive eaters to soup up a hot-dog truck and sell over-the-top fast food like shepherd’s-pie-in-a-cup and carrot cake bread pudding, while making pit stops to do eating challenges along the way? Ambition, obviously. “Glutton Force Five is not foodie bullshit,” Brown explains. “The guy who came up with the Dorito taco is a fucking brilliant man, but I don’t like pink slime meat. We want to do that sort of stuff but not cheaply.”
Before eating innumerable calories at Mach speed, Bertoletti was a culinary student at Kendall College. He now cooks for Jewell Events Catering, bouncing between the two extremes of ignoring the taste for sport and providing as much taste as possible. In addition to the shepherd’s pie and carrot cake, the Palos Heights native has devised “The Alberto”: a habanero-braised beef short rib sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise, potato straws and beef jus vinaigrette. “You know when you’re really drunk and you eat White Castle and you think it’s the greatest thing ever? I want you to have the same experience with my food,” Bertoletti says.
Brown, a Barrington native, is the marketing side of the team. He and Bertoletti are planning a “Gluttony Tour” where they hope to win every eating challenge in Chicago within 48 hours. And whenever the truck is out, any patron brave enough is welcome to challenge Bertoletti and Brown to an eating contest with one of their own menu items. If the patron beats them either head-to-head or against their best times, he or she will win $500 cash and free grub. Not that the guys expect that to happen. “If you watch Man v. Food, that guy is a complete pussy compared to us,” Brown says.
Glutton Force Five plans to idle at Clark and Belmont, outside the Alley, on Wednesday evenings. The truck also hopes to hit one street festival a month, including Ribfest and the Logan Square Arts Festival. But because they rely on the element of surprise, there’s no telling where they’ll end up the rest of the time. Check gluttonforcefive.com for the truck’s whereabouts. Or simply look for the truck with the dude with the Mohawk in front. He’ll be the one eating 100 pizzas.