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Two men devour four pounds of prime rib each ­— plus sides — to win restaurant’s challenge

Michael Schifferdecker Oak Lawn sits with Beefeaters Challenge Jenny's Steak House   Pub Chicago Ridge Ill. Saturday November 24

Michael Schifferdecker, of Oak Lawn, sits with the Beefeaters Challenge at Jenny's Steak House & Pub in Chicago Ridge, Ill., on Saturday, November 24, 2012. He finished the food in 56 minutes. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 30, 2012 3:10PM



Imagine inhaling, ahem, eating four pounds of prime rib in eight minutes.

And you can’t skip the twice-baked potato, salad and cup of minestrone soup.

Patrick Bertoletti, who grew up in Palos Heights, did the impressive if not nauseating accomplishment Saturday at Jenny’s Steak House & Pub, 11041 S. Menard Ave., Chicago Ridge.

But Bertoletti, 27, a professional competitive eater, was not alone.

Moments after he finished, competitive eating amateur Michael Schifferdecker, 54, of Oak Lawn, joined him in the diet-destroying deed.

Each man devoured four pounds of prime rib and all the extras in less than one hour as required in the Beefeaters Challenge at Jenny’s.

Each paid $69.95 to take the challenge, and the money will be donated to charity, restaurant owner Carl Courtright said.

But the best part is the prize: Each man, for the rest of his life, can eat for half-price at Jenny’s. And they can each bring up to six guests for the half-price deal, Courtright said.

“It will cost us a bit of money, but that’s fine. It’s worth it in the long run,” said Courtright, of Oak Lawn.

Schifferdecker has already cashed in. He enjoyed the rack of lamb Tuesday night.

“I won’t get prime rib for a while. I don’t pay attention to what I weigh, but I do know I weigh more than I did one week ago,” Schifferdecker joked.

And when he calls Bertoletti “an anaconda,” he’s not far from the truth.

“Growing up, I never chewed my food. I never had to,” Bertoletti said.

Hey, why bother chewing when you can swallow huge chunks of food in mighty gulps?

And it’s not like Bertoletti looks like one of those guys who can eat his weight.

He stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds. He’s just able to eat fast. Very fast.

He is the world champ for consuming pizza, eating 47 slices of 16-inch deep dish pizza in 10 minutes in 2008. At the annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest on Coney Island this year, he downed 51 hot dogs in 10 minutes to finish third. He once ate a 10-pound Key lime pie in eight minutes, and has devoured 275 pickled peppers in 10 minutes.

Seeing him in action Saturday left bartender Brandy Whitlow a wide-eyed witness.

“It was unbelievable to watch,” she said.

“He ate the way a snake eats mice. I don’t know how he actually tasted anything,” Whitlow said.

Bertoletti started at 3:03 p.m., was done at 3:11 p.m. and insisted the beef was “tender and very good.”

Schifferdecker, who started at 2:22 p.m. and was done at 3:18, “enjoyed every bite.”

“I love their food. It’s delicious, even when you’re eating that amount of meat. I guess there are better ways to eat prime rib than having 64 ounces in an hour. It did get a little difficult near the end,” Schifferdecker said.

This was Schifferdecker’s second try at the prime rib challenge. He finished 10 bites shy a week earlier.

Schifferdecker has also tried and failed to complete Jenny’s other challenge: A 32-ounce London broil, 24 fried jumbo shrimp, a twice-baked potato, mixed vegetables, soup and salad.

Courtright is a big fan of the Travel Channel series “Man v. Food” and “Man v. Food Nation” which features eating challenges at restaurants nationwide. The shows inspired him to set up the challenges.

Schifferdecker, whose biggest worry was staying awake, watched the entire Notre Dame-Southern Cal game Saturday night, and “ate lighter” Sunday.

Bertoletti? There’s no stopping him. A few hours after the challenge, he ate a slab of ribs.

“Food is my thing,” he understated.

Bertoletti, who lives in Chicago’s Pilsen community and works for a catering company, said he felt fine after the contest.

“I was thirsty and drank six glasses of water. Then I went to my uncle’s house and drank some beers,” he said.



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