America’s Randy takes Belfast burger crown

American professional eater Randy Santel prepares to get stuck into the 'Big Lad' burger
American professional eater Randy Santel prepares to get stuck into the 'Big Lad' burger

Surviving his first encounter with a Belfast bap, a professional eater from America last night succeeded in taking the crown for a monster burger challenge.

Randy Santel, who is also a bodybuilder, has over 200 food challenge wins under his belt and is on a tour of 30 UK food challenges in 47 days.

Last night saw him take on the massive ‘Big Lad’ burger challenge in Buildaburger on Botanic Avenue – a burger nine times bigger than a regular quarter pounder.

Beating the previous record of 11 minutes and 33 seconds – held by local lad Brian McCloskey – the Missouri muscle man polished off the weighty feast in a mere eight minutes and 52 seconds.

Speaking to the News Letter afterwards, he described the harder-topped Belfast bap as “difficult”.

He said: “I have never had one before. I had been aiming for about eight minutes but once I bit into the bap, and actually knew what it was like, I added a little bit. At that point I was just shooting for under 10 [minutes].”

Proprietor Michael Gallagher said the restaurant has been open for three years.

“We don’t have a menu,” he said.

“We offer steak, chicken, camel, venison, pulled pork and beef briskets. There are also 30 sauces and 40 toppings. It is almost like a Subway – the customer says what they want on their burger.”

The infamous ‘Big Lad’ burger has 36oz of beef in a 12oz bap.

However, Buildaburger uses steakburger instead of mince, making the Belfast bap much tougher than burgers wrapped in standard soft rolls.

Challengers have 30 minutes to beat the monster.

“Some 2,500 people have tried it but only 75 have been able to finish.

“Everyone who walks in assumes they are going to finish it. While they eat, we play the soundtrack to the Rocky movies. Reigning champion Brian McCloskey is a fairly small guy,” says Mr Gallagher.

“He has done it three times. The big guys tend not to be able to finish it.”

Since he embarked on his competitive eating adventure four years ago, Randy has eaten everything from a 3ft monster hot dog to a 7lb burger and a 26-inch pizza.

He is confident that there is “no challenge too big for him”.

Specialising in monstrous quantity food challenges, Randy, owner of foodchallenges.com, will travel throughout the UK looking for challenges.

“I am open to take on any challenges throughout England, Scotland and Wales during my trip,” he said.

“I have yet to put together my schedule so I am still looking for restaurants to work with and challenges to take on.

“All my challenges get featured on our YouTube channel that has well over 50,000 subscribers and growing.”