There are few things more discouraging for a food challenger or competitive eater than training for a whole week to prepare for a competition, just to get there and discover that the challenge or contest is not available or canceled. Sometimes these situations are out of your control due to outside circumstances, and other times they may end up being your own fault. It has happened to me a few times, and I’ll be the first person to tell you that it sucks. It has happened twice over in Europe because I was never able to contact the restaurant while I was over there, and the other time was because the eating contest did not attract any competitors except for me, and was therefore cancelled. You get there ready to eat everything in sight, only to find out that all those calories and all that training just need to be written off as a learning experience, and that if you want something to eat, you’ll have to order it. The easiest way to avoid this situation is to call the restaurant in advance and confirm the details. You may even need to call a few times if the restaurant or event seems extra unorganized. You will find that a large majority of restaurants, and almost all restaurants with larger challenges, prefer that you call ahead in advance to let them know you are coming. Here is a good list of reasons why you should:

The challenge meal may involve special items not kept in stock – Most restaurants don’t keep 72oz steaks, 10″ buns, or 3′ long baguettes in stock every day, believe it or not. Your challenge may involve a particular item that is only used for the challenge meal, and therefore the restaurant may not always have it in stock. If they do, it may be reserved for somebody that did actually call ahead. This happens most often with larger challenges. If you think the challenge meal may use a special item, definitely call ahead to avoid all of the extra hassle.

The restaurant may not have enough staff for somebody to be available to watch you – If you do more than just a few challenges, you will learn very quickly that some restaurant care a lot more about their challenge than others. Some restaurants require somebody to watch you almost the entire time so that he or she can keep track of time and also make sure you follow the rules and don’t cheat. If the restaurant is busy and is understaffed, you may be out of luck if you did not let them know you were coming ahead of time, and that is your own fault.

The restaurant can’t handle challenge meals during peak hours – Just because a restaurant is big, that doesn’t mean that the kitchen is. Some restaurants have smaller cooking areas, and a large challenge burger or meal may take up half of the grill or oven. Restaurants can’t keep regular customers waiting while your meal cooks. Therefore, they may not want you coming during certain hours. If you know the restaurant can get pretty busy, you need to call ahead if you plan on coming during a busier time, or you may get really disappointed.

Will there be a group with you? – If there will be a group with you to watch you take the challenge, then you need to call ahead. The restaurant will want to know so that they can accommodate your entire group and sit you all together. You don’t want to have to have everyone sitting in different spots, just because you didn’t call ahead. If you don’t call ahead, whatever happens is your own fault, and that is obviously very preventable.

Are multiple people taking the challenge? – It’s one thing for the restaurant to have one 3lb burger patty available so that you can take the challenge, but not many restaurants keep in stock enough materials for multiple people to do the challenge at a time. If you are putting together a group event where multiple people will be taking the challenge, you definitely need to call ahead in advance. The restaurant may even want to help set up the event & get other people to join you!! Either way, the restaurant will appreciate the prior warning.

Some restaurants want to promote your challenge – This doesn’t happen very often, but I have heard of several restaurant owners wanting time to contact media and set up an event so people can come and watch, no matter who the person is wanting to attempt the challenge. This typically only happens at smaller places though.

Unless the challenge is really small and not even free or discounted if you win, you should definitely call ahead to confirm the time and date that you will be attempting the challenge. If there are no restrictions listed on the website or challenge rules, there still may be restrictions, or there may be something going on that night you are wanting to come. Once you call ahead and confirm, and the restaurant says ok, it then becomes the full responsibility of the restaurant to notify you if the challenge becomes no longer available when you are wanting to come. Hopefully they notify you before your max out meal!! If you are signed up for a competition and you know there are not that many people signed up, call back one or two days before the contest to make sure the event is still scheduled. Follow the restaurant’s Facebook page too. Staying on top of things will help make sure you don’t show up to an unavailable or cancelled event. Believe me, that is an avoidable BIG inconvenience.

You should also use this opportunity to ask any particular questions you may have. Confirm that the challenge components, time limit, price, prizes, and rules are what you think they are. If you don’t know something, ask!! The host or hostess answering the phone does not get paid to do nothing. One of their jobs is to answer the phone and sell the restaurant’s menu items. The challenge is definitely a menu item they should know about. Make sure that everything is the same as you think it is, and then you will be ready to really start preparing!! Use the advice in the Stomach Capacity Training section and Failing To Plan Is Simply Planning To Fail article.

Thanks for reading why you must confirm the details with the restaurant and using FoodChallenges.com!!

To go back and view other Before The Challenge articles, click here.