MONTCLAIR, NJ - Ani Ramen House of Montclair held their inaugural “Slurp, Sip and Repeat” ramen noodle eating contest on Monday night. Team TAP along with 26 experienced competitive eaters and newcomers entered the contest, seeking to win the coveted Golden Chopsticks and a year of free ramen.
Proceeds from the night’s competition benefit the Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless.
“We wanted to do something to be active in the community as National Noodle Day was October 6. So we decided to announce [the contest] then and hold it today.” Manager Kathleen Reyes explained about the new event.
The contest consisted of two 15-minute heats with the winner being the first person to eat ten bowls of ramen or the most bowls consumed in the time allotted. The first seating ended with the leader downing 9 ¼ bowls and the next closest contestant eating six and half bowls. Soon after the first heat, both men looked on as the second group dove into their noodles waiting to see if their numbers were enough to claim the crown. As the time ticked down, it was clear that the first round produced the top eaters of the night.
Sebastian Voltarelli, a realtor from Glen Ridge, standing 6’3’’ and 238 lbs. won the day with 9 ¼ bowls consumed. He said his strategy was to “just shove as much in before I realize that I am eating ramen.”
Carlos Avellaneda of Paterson echoed Voltarelli’s eating contest philosophy. “Just eat, don’t stop, stand up and try to keep my stomach open, but I ran out of room.” Capping out at 6 ½ bowls, it was enough to claim second place for the Ani Ramen fan. “I was one of the first people that came here to eat when they opened.”
Team TAP, consisting of two participants, came in fourth place, consuming nearly five bowls of noodles each.
“We entered the competition because we thought this was going to be a fun way to raise money for a great cause,” said Jonathan Sym, editor of TAPinto Millburn/Short Hills. “It’s great to see so many foodies come out to support a local business, maybe we should sponsor something similar in Millburn next year.”
"This was my first eating contest. It was great fun and I met some wonderful people. I'll definitely be back next year!" said Robert Hughes of New Providence.
Owner Luck Sarabhayavanija explained how the inspiration for the contest originated. “We realized we didn’t have a ramen contest in the states yet. I just came back from Tokyo and they hold ramen contests throughout the year and they do a major one, kinda like how we glorify our Nathan’s [hot dog eating contest]. So I wanted to bring one over here.”
In English Ani translates means 'big brother'. The idea being one of nurturing and growth in the way that sibling and family relationships bring together and strengthen communities. Ani Ramen is opening a second location is Jersey City shortly.