Hope the New Year is treating everyone well.
I thought I would start it off with a Tips and Tricks summary post that should come in handy. It should be a good page to refer to, and also help me throw off some rust as I plan ahead what challenges to tackle.
You need to know yourself and your limits. As in any physical activity, it is best to warm up. Challenges are no exception. Last year I went into quite a few with zero preparation, and whilst not costly, it did make for worse performances, or feeling terrible afterwards.
Don’t just jump into any challenge without having prepared, especially not one outside of your capacity, since you are bound to lose and feel terrible afterwards. Challenges should be fun, and tackling something outside your comfort zone will ruin that.
Remember, it takes time to build up capacity and hone technique, so better to start off with easier challenges and see if this is something you enjoy.
Know what you are getting yourself into. It is more difficult with newer challenges, since there is less social media to judge them by. The best way is to ask the venue directly. There have been challenges in the past where I went in expecting one thing based on social media, and ended up facing a much bigger challenge. Obviously, if the venue decided to ‘be cheeky’ and give you a bigger challenge than advertised, there is little you can do.
Challenge by type:
I’ve never eaten so many wings in my life since I’ve moved to London. For some reason this city is obsessed with them, at least when it comes to competitions.
Wings are debris food. You need to watch out for the bones. Therefore, technique plays a large role. They are divided into two parts, the flats and the drumsticks. My preferred technique for drums is the ‘corn on the cob’. Bite down with your top teeth, and spin it around, cleaning the meat. For flats, try locate the two bones sticking out, grab on and hold on to them as you try clean all the meat off of the flat in one bite. An alternative I’ve seen is similar, but instead of the mouth, you hold on to the bones and use your hand to pull the meat off until it kind of looks like an umbrella.
These are quite common too. Whether a multi patty, or a single large patty, the general approach is still the same. Tackle the patty, first, then any other side proteins, then the bun and extras. If you’re doing a multi-patty burger, you can save the last patty and have it with the buns like a regular burger. You can also leave a piece of a larger patty and do the same, but be warned. Large patties cool down fast, and when they do, they can be tough to chew and get down. With multi-patty burgers, the patties retain heat due to being stacked on top of each other, so even by the bottom one, it should still be reasonably juicy and easy to get down.
If you get a choice of toppings, simpler is better for speed. If you’re feeling confident, pick your favourite toppings by all means. For larger pizzas, if you can split flavours, I would recommend it to avoid flavour fatigue.
Technique wise, I prefer to fold the pizza so that the toppings are on the outside. This helps get the slices down faster. Other than that, there really isn’t much to it.
For most other challenge types, just follow the simple steps. Proteins, then sides, then carbs last. That is the general formula and works best. You can tweak it to the challenge though. If you know you absolutely hate one item of it, don’t save that for last. If you get to it once you hit the wall, you will struggle to get it down, or worse, it might make you reverse.
Use water. Water really helps the food go down and can dramatically increase your speed. Don’t go crazy with it though as it can quickly use up precious capacity. Usually a sip is all you need.
For flavour fatigue, if doing a sweet challenge, a bitter or salty food can bring you back to life. A black coffee would work the treat. The reverse is true for salty challenges. Try mix in some sweet flavours. For example, if a challenge is burger + side + milkshake, by all means feel free to use the milkshake to get the burger down instead of water. It’s part of the challenge, so might as well use it. Plus, it helps mix up the flavours.
Don’t panic. Do your best. Enjoy.
Hope these points help, and hope everyone has a fantastic year.