We had the shoot today promoting the Nathans July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. It went great. I met some interesting people and I learned so much about the hot dog business.
Working for a news show has its perks. One of them is having access to putting on television things I am passionate about. I have always been a fan of the competition and have been dragging my friends here since High School. It’s great to be involved in it any way I can.
At 3pm everyone assembled in Nathan’s of Westbury to do the shoot. This turned out to be more of an exhibition of the art of competive eating than a contest. We had interviews before the eating with both competitive eaters. We were given access to the backstage area of Nathans to film also – very clean and efficient. The kitchen is exposed and those hot dogs grilling look so delicious. It’s amazing how good a Nathan’s hot dog is. Still my favorite food.
I met with the owner and the managers of the restaurant last week and today. What a great bunch of people. They were even more excited than I was about having an event here. Everyone was very accomodating and said yes to anything we asked of them. They even put up streamers on the outside of the building and set up a staging area for us to film. Before the eating began, they opened up the area and got customers and staff to watch and be active in the shoot. The staff from the Westbury Nathans, the representative from IFOCE, and the consultant from Nathans Corporate were extremely helpful in creating this event. They made this into the great event it was.
Competitive eating legends “Hungry” Charles Hardy and Eric “Badlands” Booker came out to promote the Coney Island event. They gave us a pretty good taste of their world by facing off against CJ Papa exhibiting their talents. CJ ate a couple, but the guys downed 10 easily. What’s amazing, after the filming was over, they both kept grabbing for dogs. I was like ‘you know, you don’t have to keep eating.’ They kept putting them down though, like they were peanuts.
Badlands Booker – what a nice guy. This guy is huge. Looks like a 400 pound anvil. Listen to him talk though, and you will think he’s the sweetest guy on the planet. haha, he might not like that coming out about him… I like his music a lot. It’s mainly about food and competitive eating, but he manages to make it not gimmicky at all, the rapping is smooth and the beats have a pumping sound to them. Hey, people write about what they are surrounded by. Booker happens to be surrounded by food; that’s what he sings about. It’s real. If you look in the liner notes, it’s a bunch of dudes from the competitive eating world rapping with him and doing little intros and outros on there. Very fun stuff and well produced.
Hungry Charles Hardy – so friendly and happy to be around the competitive eating world. He has been retired for a few years but is now the Commissioner of the International Federation of Competitive Eating – and has the awesome tattoo to prove it – I wish I got a picture. He a big guy, but he told me he dropped a 100 pounds since his more hungry days. I remember he had some generous stomach clout 5 years ago – looking good, Charles.
Before the shoot, everyone was standing around just talking about the biz. They were buzzing about what’s happening this year and who is coming up in the ranks, possibilities for new competitors from strange backgrounds and foreign countries. It seems like everyone keeps getting more and more excited about the event and the sport. Great environment with smiles all around. It is definitely a family brought together by these glorious hot dogs.
Leading up to the July 4th event, I will have at least 1 post every day about the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Competition. From this experience, I gained all of these little factoids and secrets. This won’t get boring – I am excited to go to the contest on Friday, will I see you there?
Video of the event will be up tomorrow.
In very related news, I will have news about the Long Island/NYC restaurant scene next week.