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Friday, 03 July 2015

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VIDEO: Biting off more than they can chew at chilli pizza challenge

Intrepid reporters JAMES BROADHURST and JOHN FULLER took on the food challenge of their lives in Keswick when they came face to face with the world’s hottest pizza. James reports on their epic battle of man versus food

My mouth was on fire, my eyes were watering and I have never known that food could cause so much pain.

But I can say that I have tried the world’s hottest pizza at LB’s Pizza House in Keswick – even if I couldn’t finish it.

When my colleague John Fuller and I were roped into taking part in a challenge to eat a 12-inch pizza smothered in the hottest chilli in the world, the ghost chilli, I felt confident.

Firstly, I love pizza. It’s by far my favourite food.

And secondly, having watched Adam Richman on the hit American TV show Man vs Food scoff his way through challenge after challenge, I was up for proving my manly ability to tuck away a simple pizza.

But my enthusiasm soon wavered when colleagues, friends and members of my family started giving me tips on how to tackle the challenge and asked if I was nervous.

On the day itself my confidence hit rock bottom when John showed me two YouTube clips of men twice my size being reduced to blubbering wrecks after a single bite of one of the chillies.

A quick internet search did me no favours as I came across an image of an elephant sprawled on the ground in India having been subdued using the infamous chillies.

On the way to Keswick, John and I felt like men on the death march to the gallows.

Before we did the challenge we both had to sign a form, which would protect the pizza house if anything bad happened to us – gulp.

Chef Aaron Thompson assured us that he was giving us the same amount of chilli he puts on everyone’s pizza.

Watching him sprinkle two heaped teaspoons of the chillies on a margherita base had my mind searching for a feasible excuse not to go through with it, but I came up blank.

We had 25 minutes to eat the whole pizza and just a solitary pint of water to help us through.

The eye-watering effect of the chilli pizza immediately hit me. My throat was burning and I was breaking into a sweat.

I looked across at John and his expression suggested that he was eating nothing more than ice cream.

But the chilli quickly hit him as well and soon we were both howling in pain, while photographer Tom Kay and staff at the pizzeria chuckled away.

Sadly, despite our best efforts we were both unable to finish the pizza in under 25 minutes.

Downing six pints of milk between us just about helped us recover from the shock of the ordeal.

Tom Little, 21, digital marketing and PR executive for LB’s, said: “I thought John in the first two minutes looked like he was going to do it no bother. I thought we should have put more chillies on but when it hit him, it really hit him.

“I enjoyed it. It was a good bit of entertainment for me.”

About 15 people out of 50 who have taken on the challenge have completed it and got their picture on LB’s Wall of Flame, a T-shirt to prove they have accomplished the feat and a £5 voucher towards their next meal.

Failure to complete the challenge means customers must pay £5 for the meal, with the winners getting the pizza for free.

The fastest time so far was achieved by Lindon Bolton who did it in four minutes and 20 seconds.

Kris Opalinski, manager, said: “It’s ridiculously hot, I mean really, really hot.

“People can’t believe how hot it is and they are coming down to do the challenge and get on the Wall of Flame. Their eyes could be watering but they still carry on and try to beat the record.

“We did it to advertise the pizza and the restaurant with the hope of getting more customers and raise the profile of the business.”

Having eaten three quarters of the pizza in 25 minutes, myself and John felt like we had gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson.

Hats off to Lindon Bolton for having demolished the whole pizza in less time than it took me to recover from my first bite.

LB’s hottest pizza challenge takes place every Wednesday from 5.30pm to 10pm.