2012 Nisei Week Queen Emily Folick supplies gyoza to Joey Chestnut (left), the eventual winner, and Pat Bertoletti, last year's champion. Competitors washed down their gyoza with their beverages of choice — in Bertoletti's case, fruit punch. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Rafu Staff Report

It was survival of the fittest and fastest on Aug. 18 as the 2012 Nisei Week Festival hosted the sixth annual World Gyoza Eating Championship and the Rubik’s Cube Competition.

The events took place at the JACCC (Japanese American Cultural and Community Center) Plaza in Little Tokyo.

Former champion Joey Chestnut regained the title by chowing down 266 Day-Lee Foods gyoza in 10 minutes, a new world record.

Chestnut, who also holds the record for hot dogs in the Nathan’s Fourth of July contest, bested last year’s gyoza champion, Pat “Deepdish” Bertoletti, by 33 dumplings.

Juliet Lee had the best showing among the women, putting down 157, and Steve Hendry was tops among the amateur eaters with 101 gyoza gobbled.

The 2011 Nisei Week Queen, Erika Olsen, and her court flexed their collective gastric muscle to devour 89 gyoza. If one person had eaten that many, it would have been enough for 10th place.

Meanwhile, 2012 Nisei Week Queen Emily Folick and her court kept the gyoza coming as the competitors consumed plate after plate. The court and Nisei Week mascot Aki the Akita also congratulated the top finishers.

The results are as follows. World rankings are in parentheses; asterisks denote amateurs.

1st: Joey “Jaws” Chestnut (1), 266 (new world record)

2nd: Matt “Megatoad” Stonie (6), 234

3rd: Pat “Deepdish” Bertoletti (2), 233

4th: Adrian “The Rabbit” Morgan (7), 164

5th: “The Lovely” Juliet Lee (9), 157

6th: Juan “More Bite” Rodriguez (26), 146

7th: Michelle “Cardboard Shell” Lesco (19), 131

8th: Kevin “LA Beast” Strahle (16), 122

9th: Steve Hendry*, 101 (top amateur)

10th: Dax “The Ginger” Swanson (34), 85

11th: Naoyuki Kamiya*, 65

12th: Doug Ecks*, 64

t13th: Crescenzo Rillo*, 51

t13th: Toshiki Otani*, 51

15th: Mary Bowers (not ranked), 48

16th: Scott Russell*, 45

17th: Alex Piatt*, 30

Rillo, who tied for 13th place, was a last-minute contestant from the audience. A competitive eater from Australia — a point of pride for emcee Sam Barclay, a fellow Aussie — he bid $400 for the last remaining spot at the table. That amount will go to next year’s Nisei Week Festival.

Chestnut received his trophy from Jason Uno, marketing/sales coordinator for Day-Lee Foods.

According to coordinator Cory Hayashi, this is the only gyoza-eating contest sanctioned by Major League Eating.

With members of her court cheering her on, 2011 Nisei Week Queen Erika Olsen gobbles down gyoza. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

In the Rubik’s Cube contest, officially sanctioned by the World Cube Association, Deven Nadudvari took first place, averaging a mere 10.03 seconds to arrange solid colors on all six sides of the cube in his five attempts in the final. His best time was 8.46 seconds.

James Hamory, left, and Michael Young show off their completed Rubik’s Cube puzzles. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

He was followed by Cameron Brown (best time, 10.11; average, 11.41) and James Hamory (best time, 10.63; average, 11.42).

Rounding out the top 10 were Daniel De Vera (10.56, 11.72), Everett Kelly (9.81, 11.88), Michael Young (11.65, 12.48), Weston Mizumoto (10.86, 13.13), Daniel Chan (12.78, 13.82), Devin Corr-Robinett (11.22, 13.83), and the lone female in the finals, Tiffany Choi (13.55, 14.22).

The winner in the first round was Mizumoto, whose fastest time was 9 seconds and average in five attempts was 10.79.

The 45 competitors included one from China (Guanda Fu, who placed 11th in the finals) and one from India. Of the 45, 19 advanced to the finals.

Tiffany Choi and Daniel Chan work on their cubes. Choi finished 10th, while Chan placed eighth. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)


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