She wears a ball cap with the Batman logo, but she is no hero to me.
She is concocting my doom.
“Potatoes,” Carolina Villaseñor says, dumping 5 pounds of them onto the grill.
“Huevos,” she says later, pouring the yolks of a whole carton.
She proceeds to mix in a half-pound of ham, containers of onions and green peppers, and with her two spatulas, she piles high the ungodly mound on a plate that looks the size of my sternum.
Villaseñor adds shredded cheese, then she encases the chow with two flour tortillas. She coats it all with green chili and red chili, half and half – my choice, my last act of free will before Jack-N-Grill’s 7-pound breakfast burrito challenge consumes me.
The final countdown is on. Measuring 12 inches long and 6 inches wide, it’s placed in the microwave to melt for two minutes.
“That’s a food baby,” Gazette photographer Christian Murdock observes.
It’s carried out to the world, drawing oohs and aahs and wide eyes at the Westminster restaurant, 12 miles north of the original Jack-N-Grill closed for renovations on Federal Boulevard.
A boy steps to my table for a closer look and asks, “Is that even legal?”
It is illegal to leave the burrito unattended, the waitress tells me. If I am to have my picture taken and placed on the five-picture Wall of Fame, I must finish in one sitting. Also, no help is allowed. I must wade alone into the burrito’s starchy, spicy innards.
I have as much time as I’d like, as much time as I will regret.
I’m told it took 3½ hours for Adam Richman, the stout host of Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food.” He shoveled three-fourths of the burrito and gave a long sigh. “Wow, I am thoroughly immovable now,” he said, before waving a white towel in surrender, appearing sweaty and exhausted.
“Though my body might be a mile high, I think my lower intestines are at least a mile below the crust of the Earth,” he said in the 2008 episode.
Jack-N-Grill opened eight years prior, at the demand of customers who ate from the propone griddle that Jack Martinez and his family would set up on weekends. The recipes passed down from generations in New Mexico were met by praise in Denver.
The downtown joint got fast fame for the burgers. And while the 10-ounce creations are still local favorites, Jack-N-Grill has enjoyed the national spotlight since 2003, when the 7-pound breakfast burrito was born. Its most recent appearance on a list was one by USA Today, “10 ginormous restaurant dishes ready for Instagram.”
The burrito continues its wrath, banishing nearly all takers into the abyss.
The cook tells me she might make 10 in a week, and one challenger might emerge victorious. Most of the champion pictures are posted at the Federal Boulevard location, but the lonely Wall of Fame here in Westminster does nothing to sway my fears as I ready for battle.
However friendly, waitress Evelyn Sanchez doesn’t help by telling me about her last encounter with the burrito. She took it home, a feast to share with her parents and brother.
“We had breakfast, lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day,” she says. “I hated breakfast burritos for the longest time.”
The legends only make me cringe. Sanchez tells me about one man who devoured it in seven minutes by first slicing the monster in half to cool it. He carried out his assault with his bare hands.
Another worker, B Talavera, tells me a woman, some traveling pro eater, conquered the burrito in three minutes. Talavera didn’t witness this – and she’s glad for that – but co-workers spoke for days of the event.
“They say she just swallowed it,” Talavera says. “Like, she wasn’t even chewing. Just swallowing.”
The mighty wield big serving spoons. I begin my feeble attempt with a fork.
I dig and dig, but the morsels are too many. They too quickly take each other’s place while their fallen comrades enact revenge, shoving my belly against my belt buckle.
Twenty minutes pass when I realize I haven’t made a dent, the tortilla fortress still strong. Even with photographer Murdock’s help, the behemoth refuses to fade.
We submit, our rival well intact, not a fourth depleted.
We stagger out the door, mocked by the Wall of Fame’s smiling faces.
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