Q: What do you get when you cross 1.6kg of pork with doughnut flavoured vodka and a strongman shoving 9 inch nails up his nose?
A: Just an average Wednesday night for your Vertigo editors/resident food-challenge reporters, Mairead and Sally.

Yes that’s right Engineers, drop your UTS Food Court meatboxes, there’s a new food challenge in town. And it’s just down the road-at Essen Restaurant & Beer Café on Broadway!

As many of you impoverished students may have already discovered, eating challenges are the double-or-nothing version of the cheap eat. Finish your meal, you get it for free. Fail to finish, pay for the excessive amount of food you just attempted to masticate. (Yes, masticate is a great word, we know.) Eating challenges require a lot: grit, stamina, determination, a sprinkling of idiocy. And probably also a hearty dash of financial desperation.
For those up to the test, the Man vs. Pork challenge has arrived at Essen; a challenge 65 million years in the making. To be honest, the table service at several restaurants we’ve attended could probably make the same claim, but the ‘Jurassic Pork’ pun was obviously too good for Essen to pass up.
Following the success of last year’s ‘Schnitzilla’ challenge, the boys at Essen are once again testing customers, this time with ‘Jurassic Pork’ – a mammoth 1.6kg combination of bread, slow-cooked marinated pork, coleslaw, lashings of sauce and a healthy side of chips. In order to complete the challenge, contestants must finish the entire plate within thirty minutes, without leaving the table.
So we guess all you free-meal-coveters are wondering – is it possible? What are my odds? What’s the best technique? Will I vomit after arriving late to my 8pm tute? Well, we went along to find out.

While we sipped on deliciously doughnuty vodka, the six competitors (none of which included us) attempted to hide their pure dread with flippant pre-meal banter, but their terror was palpable. Suddenly, trumpets sounded* and a waiter carrying two trays strode, gladiator-like, out of the dark recesses of the kitchen. On each tray stood a circular loaf of bread the size of a newborn baby, stuffed with marinated pork and coleslaw. (The bread, not the baby. Oh god.)

Fast forward twenty minutes.

Many of the competitors are still battling valiantly on, but others have prostrated themselves before their meals like bloated corpses in a Colosseum. The most likely finalist has taken on the cunning strategy of mashing his food into a pulpy mess on his plate, alternating the density of the bread with the moisture of the pork.
Rewind forty minutes.

The same man is ripping a telephone book in half with his bare hands, before bending a frying pan in half, putting some huge nails up his nose, removing them and hammering a nail through two pieces of wood. With his hand. (Don’t worry, this was our pre-dinner entertainment, not just his general demeanor.)

Fast forward fifty minutes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the strongman is the only successful entrant to complete the challenge (although there is a close second, who made the mistake of tackling the bread and chips last.)

It’s certainly a tough challenge, the kind that will truly separate pigs from piglets. But we think the students of UTS could certainly give the strongman a run for his money… Winners will not only receive a commemorative Jurassic Pork T-shirt, but will also have the entry price of $49.50 fully refunded and their photo placed on the Essen Wall of Fame (those who don’t finish end up on the Wall of Shame). However, be ready to front up the dough if your stomach wimps out.


Alternatively, those who just want a taster can order a mini version of Jurassic Pork, the ‘JP Express’ – which stills weighs in at close to half a kilo – for just $20 including a beer. Or, if you prefer getting inappropriately schnit-faced before (cough, during) class, flash your student card and you can get schnitzel and a beer for $20.
You can take part in Jurassic Pork during Essen’s normal trading hours – dinner from 5pm every night of the week and lunch on Thursdays and Fridays from 12pm. So for all those dinner winners out there, good luck!

* Acoustic elements of this review may be fictionalised for dramatic effect.

Essen Restaurant & Beer Café is located at 133-135 Broadway, Ultimo.

Ph: 9211 3805