Torstar News Service Takeru Kobayashi defends his pizza eating title at Pie Wood Fired Pizza Joint in Barrie, Ont. on October 6, 2013.

Even world-class competitive eaters get pre-game jitters.

Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi won Canada’s biggest competitive eating contest Sunday afternoon by a thin-crust margin.

“This year was the most difficult contest ever,” Kobayashi said through his manager and interpreter, Maggie James. “I was really, really, really nervous going into the contest, which is unlike any other year.”

Kobayashi, 34, has won the annual pizza eating contest hosted by Barrie’s Pie Wood Fire Pizza Joint three years running. This year the 127-pound Kobayashi packed in 10-and-a-half one-pound pizzas in 12 minutes.

“Of all the competitions I’ve ever seen him in, I’ve never seen him work harder for this,” James said. “He really, really worked for this one.”

The competitors were neck-in-neck until the ninth minute, when Kobayashi pulled away from the pack.

“At the 10-minute mark, they just had no more space in their stomach,” said Craig Russell, one of the restaurant’s owners.

“I can hardly open my mouth, my jaw is tired from chewing,” said second-place finisher Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti.

The Chicago chef recently stepped off the Major League Eating circuit after nine years and hundreds of contests. He got his start when friends egged him to put his prodigious appetite into practice.

“I felt so nasty and terrible after that first event, I swore I would never do another one,” Bertoletti said. “Two weeks later I did another one.”

Bertoletti holds records for eating poutine (13-and-a-half pounds in 10 minutes) and pickled jalapeño peppers (275 in eight minutes).

But at 28, he says his best days are behind him, so he’s stepped down to the independent circuit.

“I’m not unhealthy, but it’s certainly difficult to maintain it when you go out and do these competitions,” Bertoletti.

Kobayashi says he can go for another decade, as his mental ability and technique are only growing sharper, honed by his diligent training regimen.

He prepares by drinking larger and larger volumes of water, until he can down three gallons of water in 90 seconds, James said.

Canada’s best contender at Sunday’s contest, Toronto’s “Furious” Pete Czerwinski, was a no-show.

More from Canada :

blog comments powered by Disqus