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Dream job: competitive eater

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Sarah ‘Thomasina’ Ow, 28 
Who’s also an air stewardess (yep, that’s not a typo)

How’d you get into competitive eating?

My husband was the one that spurred me to try such challenges. We were joking, ‘If we ever run out of money, we just have to do food challenges and we’ll get to eat for free.’ I started googling food contests, and I came across this huge bowl of laksa – literally ten bowls put together – on the Food League Singapore website. So I messaged them, and they suggested I try the Xiang Ji Chicken Rice Challenge first, which I did. From there, I did the Beast Burger Challenge, and the week after, the Nasi Lemak one.

Tell us about the nasi lemak challenge.

[Class 95FM DJ] Justin Ang challenged me to eat ten packets of nasi lemak in a live streaming. He said, ‘I don’t care! I can confirm eat more than her.’ Within an hour, I finished the nasi lemak. It was quite tough, actually, because we were talking. People who talk and eat tend to get full a bit faster. Justin conceded defeat – he finished five packets.

Does it take the joy out of eating certain foods, like chicken rice?

I still eat chicken rice! But the people who watch me [eating] don’t, because they’re put off by the amount of it. I really don’t fancy roasted chicken, though. I love the fats – I love soft, fatty foods like braised pork belly.

How do you maintain your figure and weight?

I don’t absorb my food very well, so even for the burger and chicken rice challenges, my [digestive] system processes food quickly. I have a very quick metabolism, and I walk a lot. Whether a long or short flight, I’m walking from country to country, so there’s no rest.

Which is more challenging: speed-eating or stamina-based food contests?

Speed-eating, for sure. It’s one of the scariest things so far. I’m the stamina-type – like a marathon runner, but for food. [Fellow competitive eater] Zermatt is a speed-eating type; I’m always second to him. He’s a sprinter! I don’t actually have any techniques, but it does feel like I’ve been preparing for this my entire life because I eat a lot every meal.

You’ll be doing the 10-minute speed tacos challenge this month. How do you think you’ll fare?

I’ve never actually had a taco – I don’t seek them out even when I go overseas! I’m guessing I’ll take about 90 seconds per taco. I love mayonnaise, though. I’m gonna bring a big tub and just dump it on all my tacos. I’m hoping I’ll be able to order a drink to wash it down.

Have you been training for the challenge?

Recently I’ve been buying four Subway foot-longs – the cold cut trio with lettuce, mayonnaise, avocado – and it takes me about 7 minutes and 4 seconds. The bread is actually the hardest part to swallow cos you’ll gag, which is inefficient thing [in speed-eating contests] since it takes time off the clock.

Want to give competitive eating a go? Try your hand at these food challenges around town.

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