Ninja tackles 31 burgers

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As I write this on National Cheese Burger Day, it’s only fitting that professional eater Riley Murphy has picked up 10 cheeseburgers to celebrate the holy day and shared the glorious stack on his Instagram. It’s just a normal day for his food-blogging alter ego Chompamatic, or The Chomp as his fans chant at competitive eating competitions.  

You’d think he’d be over burgers for the time being after smashing 31 burgers in August as part of the Frankston City Council’s Burger Off event. He scored the sweet gig of being the ambassador for the event.

“I think initially nobody actually considered one person could eat all 31 burger specials in 31 days,” said Riley. “But I guess after some brief research into my Instagram and Facebook pages, the event staff realised I was the real deal and if anyone could do it, it’s me.” 

The Chomp was assigned the mission of trying all of the burgers during August. The winning burger was voted by the public, with a chance to vote given with every purchase. The winner of Burger Off 2019 was Nature Café Bar (above) for its vegan Stayin’ Alive burger — in fact, the cafe sold 239 of the promotional burgers.

“Their vegan burger was absolutely incredible and I’ll never forget the amazing experience I had enjoying this ridiculously flavoursome burger, which was purely 100 per cent plant-based,” said Riley.

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We asked Riley to pick his top five burgers from the event and — no surprise — it was an incredibly difficult task. We’d have thought a burger a day would have been the harder part. So many of the special burgers were downright amazing in their own unique ways, but we squeezed his favourites out of him, so grab you appetite as we jump in.

Frankston Waterfront Restaurant served up The Reef and Beef. The contrast of juicy beef with the melt-in-your-mouth calamari and secret sauce made this burger an absolute delight to enjoy. The OPT Beef Burger by One Pear Tree was a classic basic cheeseburger that was made to absolute perfection — every element was flawless. Simple, yet so satisfying. At the Sands Hotel, Riley tried the Miss Piggy. It included four kinds of pork — pulled pork, pork belly, bacon and pork crumble — with a refreshing Asian slaw and secret Hoisin sauce so damn enjoyable that he went back for a second.

“The Cheeky Squire’s The Squire was gourmet as far as burgers go,” said Riley. “The very best top-shelf ingredients and intensive culinary design went into creating this burger. A deluxe and premium experience from start to finish. German engineering at its finest was the Das Brat from Trims Restaurant. They somehow managed to combine every classic German flavour together on a burger, which even came served on a pretzel hybrid burger bun that they actually make themselves in store.”

Besides the delectable bounty of burgers, the ultimate highlight for Riley was being able to discover some truly amazing food right in his home town of Frankston. Riley was absolutely blown away by some of the quality burgers he found at places he didn’t even know existed before the Burger Off event. Hosting a Burger Crawl was a thrill as well, designed as a casual get-together for an entire afternoon of eating burgers with locals who shared a mutual love of one thing: burgers. They stopped by three participating Burger Off venues that were all a little different, and tasted the burger special at each venue. 

“It was a pretty standard afternoon for someone like me, but it proved to be quite a challenge for normal people to keep up with my appetite.” 

Let’s flash back to our article last month surrounding Just Fine Food reopening its doors on Saturday, September 14, as the Vanilla Slice Café and its planned celebrations including an eating competition. You see where we’re going with this? Riley joined a line-up of competitive eaters and eager amateurs to see how many of the rich slices they could eat in 10 minutes. It was a messy event, with Riley taking out first place by eating 11 of the huge vanilla slices in 10 minutes. All hail the Vanilla Slice Champion, pictured left! 

For the past year, Riley had to up his training as he prepared to compete in the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior, above, that aired on Channel 9. It was ridiculously tough and made harder considering his lifestyle is built on a solid foundation of burgers and pizza. He found himself working three times as hard as he endeavoured to keep his weight down while still building strength during his training sessions that would go for two and a half hours. The feeling of stepping on to that stage for the very first time still sparks emotions in Riley when we ask for his highlight from the Ninja experience.

“Seeing all of the bright lights, the hundreds of people in the audience, the cameras, my loved ones on the sidelines, and just reflecting at that very moment on how far I’d come to chase my dream of making it on to Australian Ninja Warrior,” said Riley.

Ninja Warrior and competitive eater — how’s that on the resume?

For burgers overloaded with cheese and giant pizzas, make sure to stop by Riley’s Instagram @chompamatic and follow him on Facebook.  

KATE SEARS

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