Professional eater Randy Santel’s record was beaten at 1889 Pizza Napoletana’s food challenge by only one person: his girlfriend and fellow professional eater Katina DeJarnett, better known as Katina Eats Kilos on YouTube.
Santel and DeJarnett each ate six pizzas in just over 30 minutes on Wednesday evening at 1889 Pizza Napoletana in Kansas City, Kansas. The couple are professional eaters who broadcast food challenges on their YouTube channels.
Fans of Santel gathered in the restaurant around 6 p.m., drinking beer and eating pizza ahead of his performance.
1889 Pizza Napoletana advertises traditional Neapolitan pizzas inspired by the original pizzas made for Queen Margherita in Italy. In honor of the restaurant’s upcoming sixth birthday, the owners created a food challenge that requires the eater to finish six of their pizzas in under one hour. If they succeed, they get the pizzas for free and a T-shirt.
The pair set up their cameras and filmed videos of the six pizzas on the table before getting started. They joked about being “influencers in the wild.”
With the clock started, Santel began eating whole slices of pizza in two bites: one for the slice, the second for the crust. He tackled the meat-lovers first, because it was the heaviest. He moved on to sample the Hawaiian inspired and veggie pizzas.
At just over 13 minutes, half of the pizzas were gone. Look away for just a few minutes, and another pizza disappeared as the crowd cheered him on.
After 34 minutes and 34 seconds, Santel completed the challenge and smiled at the camera.
“He is pretty amazing to see,” said Andy Crutchfield, a longtime viewer of Santel’s challenges.
Santel said pizza can be difficult to eat quickly because of the crust, but more important than strategy is stomach capacity. Prepping starts about 18 to 22 hours before the challenge, he said.
“I will eat three footlongs from Subway and drink about a gallon of water all in about 15 minutes,” Santel said.
When they are traveling, however, the previous day’s challenge serves as the next day’s prep. Tuesday night, Santel ate an eight patty burger, two milkshakes, fries and a soda at Raging Bull Steakhouse in Warrensburg, Missouri.
DeJarnett stepped up to the table next. She began competitively eating in 2019 after completing a bodybuilding contest, and has been traveling to eat with Santel since 2020.
She took a different approach by dipping the crust in marinara sauce to soften them up. She started off strong and had half of her pizzas devoured in 15 minutes.
The crowd began to wonder aloud if she would beat Santel’s record.
At 22 minutes, she had just one pizza left. Spectators began filming in anticipation.
In just under 34 minutes, DeJarnett beat Santel’s record. She finished all the pizzas, marinara soaked crust and all.
Competitive eating careers
While DeJarnett began her YouTube channel in 2019, Santel has been drawing an audience since his start over a decade ago.
He worked in construction after college and saw these food challenges as a way to get out of that line of work.
“I wanted to find a way to make a living eating, traveling and working out,” said Santel, a St. Louis native who lived in Kansas City for six years after college.
His cousin filmed his first challenge in 2010 where he and a friend ate a 28-inch, two-topping pizza in under an hour. They put the video on YouTube, and have been posting videos since.
Now with over a million subscribers, Santel travels the country completing food challenges with the goal of entertaining and bringing business to locally owned restaurants.
He said it was important to him and DeJarnett to use their influence to boost businesses that have suffered in the pandemic.
“We’ve been building up the channels and then we use them productively to help promote the restaurants,” Santel said.
1889 Pizza Napoletana suffered like every other restaurant through the pandemic, co-owner Jason Kolich said.
It was beneficial that pizza can easily be transitioned to takeout food, but Kolich put it simply: “It was not fun.”
Now that most restaurants are transitioning back to traditional dining, Kolich said they will remain loyal to their city, but have a few places that they are eyeing for another possible location.
Santel is currently working on his master’s degree in dietetics with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. He said after a few more years of traveling for food challenges, he hopes to shift gears with his social media.
“I’m going to become the number one followed registered dietitian in the world,” he said. “I’m going to transfer everything over to helping people with nutrition and weight management.”
DeJarnett has a degree in kinesiology and physical education, and plans to help Santel while continuing her own journey with food challenges.
For now, the couple is headed to Indianapolis, Indiana, to complete another challenge before embarking on a four month trip to Europe where they will explore overseas food challenges.