Sushi bar contest fills nagging hunger pains

Are you hungry? Hungry enough for 78 pieces of sushi? The winner of Wasabi Sushi Bar’s 2nd Annual Sushi Eating Contest, Stu Mesnier, was hungry enough to devour 78 California rolls in 10 minutes. Motivated by the first prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Japan, Mesnier and 14 other contestants paid $75 to enter the contest.

Wasabi Sushi Fest 2007 was held in front of the downtown location (1228 Washington Ave.) on Sunday, Sept. 30. Washington was closed down from Tucker Street to 13th Street for customers to partake in live music and free appetizers from Wasabi, as well as nearby restaurants, such as The Dubliner (1025 Washington Ave.).

From 3 to 8 p.m., festival-goers were entertained by Japanese drummers, steadied by free beer and gorged with bread pudding and grilled brats. At 6 p.m., the crowd rushed the stage to get a prime spot to watch the brave foodies who dared to stuff their faces with sushi rolls.

The impetuses to enter the contest-besides bragging rights-were the three looming prizes: First place received the trip to Japan, second place earned $500 and third place, $300. The three contestants who placed also received trophies for their stomachs’ hard work.

This year’s competitors began with a good chance, as last year’s first-place winner, who ate 99 pieces, was ill and could not compete. Of the 15 contenders, three were Washington University-St. Louis medical school students, several had been in eating contests before, one individual was chosen from the crowd to replace a contestant who did not show up and one lone female hoped to take home the grand prize.

In the end, however, Mesnier, Chris Nichols (68 pieces) and Alex Krupnick (62 pieces) proved to be the champion sushi lovers, to the amazement of the sickened crowd.

Wasabi, which has been awarded the Best Sushi Bar multiple times by the Riverfront Times, Alive Magazine and Sauce Magazine, also has a location in Clayton and a developing site in Colorado.