Where? - The Laurel Hotel, 289 Mount Alexander Road, Ascot Vale
Price? - $40 (for mega-parma, chips, salad and pint)
Website? - http://www.laurelhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Cale, Dale, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
A few weeks ago it came to our attention that there was a new parma eating challenge in town. But this one was different to some of the others we have tried in the past - This challenge was offering a pretty substantial prize...
A years worth of free parmas to the person who downs this bird the fastest. Thats a spicy meat-a-ball!
We had visited The Laurel in the past, way back in 2010 it was the seventeenth parma we did, Now this week's challenge isn't about taste, so if you want a review of the regular parma I think the one linked there still holds up (although it looks like they've altered the chips since the last time we had it).
When I finished work on Thursday afternoon I was cocky, I was confident, I thought it would be a breeze! Feeling a bit peckish I made myself a vegemite sandwich to hold me over until 7 o'clock. It was a different time... so young and naive.
We arrived at The Laurel and took our seats, Four of us (Myself, Cale, Stefo and Dale) went for the Mega-Parma challenge, while reviewer Nikki did the sensible thing and got the regular parma. We were chatting to the chef afterwards and he said that the standard Laurel parma comes in at about 300g of chicken. The mega-parma is 1.5kg of chicken - For those terrible at math that means that a single mega-parma has the same amount of chicken as five standard parmas. We placed our orders and waited.
First thing to arrive was our assigned number -
Along with a form to fill out with our details, as well as an explaination of the rules (No getting up, no sharing, no hiding food, must finish parma, chips, salad and pint to be eligible, etc. etc. etc.) as well as a liability waiver if our stomach explodes after consumption. I was starting to get nervous at this point.
Before I show you the Mega-Parma, I'll show you the Laurels regular parma, purely for size comparison, This is what Reviewer Nikki was delivered...
This is what we got...
Its hard to comprehend just through pictures how big this bastard is. Thats a steak knife to the right, hopefully that can give you a little bit of perspective. It was big, that's all I will say. Underneath the parma was a healthy layer of chips, the salad was just a couple of lettuce leaves, good to break up the massive onslaught of chicken I was about to unleash on my body, but small enough to be insignificant in terms of stomach real-estate.
Cale, Stefo and Dale ready to go. This photo kind've puts them in perspective. It's bigger than Dale's head
The waitress came over, collected out waivers and set up four stop watches. We asked how quickly we had to eat it to make it onto the leaderboard, she said the current fastest time is 7 minutes and 30 seconds, completed by professional eater and friend of Parma Daze Hungry Haydo - This man is a champion of food consumption, you can check out his YouTube channel here. After 7:30 the times really open up - At the time of writing this to be in the top 6 and get into the finals you need to have a time of less than 28 minutes. That was enough to give me hope. I could do this. I could do this. I shouldn't have eaten that sandwich. I could do this.
The stopwatch starts at the time of the first bite. Ready? Go.
It was so. much. chicken.
My strategy was to go fast, be done before my stomach knows that its full - I've heard that works. So I hoed in. On cutting in I realised something, this parma wasn't only huge - it was thick. Fluctuating throughout the parma, of course - but there were plenty of areas that cracked the inch thickness mark.
The first few mouthfuls flew, but by about forkfull eight or nine I started to slow. This was gonna be harder than I thought, not just because I was getting full, but the constant onslaught of chicken after chicken started to get to me. I switched it up, a sip of the pint, a couple of chips, a bit of salad, then chicken. This kept me going for a while as it broke up the monotony a little, this worked for a while but then I realised my mistake - the pint.
Water would have been fine, but the carbonated pint brought on the burps, and when you're trying to focus to put as much stuff in to your stomach as possible the last thing you want is having to stop and let air out.
I kept my eyes on the time, When the 7 minutes and 30 second mark (the current time to beat) ticked past I was about a quarter of the way through and already feeling quite full, It was around this time that It dawned on me that I wasn't going to finish. I slowed up, snacked on some chips, and kept at it.
By twelve minutes I was done. Admitting defeat I wiped my mouth and threw the napkin on top of the parma (the universal sign for 'get this fucking food away from me')
At the end my plate looked like this -
There was still a full parma there, at least.
As for the cross section, I sliced what I had left down the middle (down the shortest edge) and put a fork on top for perspective , you can see the layer of chips beneath and the multi-layers of ham on top, this wasn't the thickest section of the schnitzel either - It got much thicker in other areas.
Slowly but surely, Cale and Stefo admitted defeat. Yet hope was not lost - Reviewer Dale was still going strong, He was our last hope ... Could he complete the challenge and save our dignity?
He pushed on, slowly but surely he worked his way through the parma. He had probably half-a-parma to go (around the 30 minute mark) by this point when he could take no more. Dale through in the napkin and we all admitted we were beaten.
So close... yet so far.
Reviewer Nikki couldn't even finish her regular sized parma, probably for the best that she didn't try the challenge.
If you reckon you can take it on, I'd say give it a go... You'll feel terrible for a few hours afterwards and you'll probably shit the bed, but definitely give it a go. The $40 entry fee covers the parma, chips, salad and pint - thats a pretty good deal considering the amount of food you're getting.
If you want to give it a go yourself the competition is open until the 21st of December, Although I'd advise not leaving it till the last day as the finals are being held on the 22nd of December (you won't have to shell out another $40 for the finals, if you make it into the top 6 the finals are a freebie). Full details at The Laurel's Website. A years worth of free parmas is a great incentive.
If you wind up trying the challenge yourself, be sure to tweet us with your victory photo and thoughts on how it went! I'm curious to see everyone else's experience.
At the time I regretted it, but I'm glad I did it. I'd recommend going and trying it out, or at least convincing your mate to give it a go and laughing at his pain, as all good mates do.
I really shouldn't have had that sandwich.