The Proof Is in the Bread Pudding

By Rita Buettner  |  Photos courtesy of WLOY

Some people can juggle.

Others can roll their tongues.

Alexandra Fili, ’13, can eat bread pudding—fast.

For the second year in a row the Glen Cove, N.Y., resident won Café Hon’s Bread Pudding Eating Contest at Baltimore’s Hampden Fest. Loyola magazine asked Fili to share some of her eating secrets—and tell us a little more about the student behind the plate.

So, I guess you like bread pudding.

The best part is that at Café Hon they make it and it’s always fresh. When you get it, it’s nice and warm. They put the warm caramel on it and then the whipped cream. It’s an entire package of yumminess.

How much do you have to eat to win?

Everyone had to eat a pound. Actually what’s really funny was that last summer I also worked at what we called a “fat camp.” I used to go when I was younger. So one of the first things I did after working at a weight loss camp for eight weeks was go and win an eating contest.

What’s the prize?

Last year you won bread pudding for an entire year—so one bread pudding a week. This year it was $100. Right after (the contest) I’m not about to go order bread pudding. I really don’t want to go for any food right after that. Altogether I’ve won $275 in my three eating contests.

But you competed in a second eating contest last year.

Four hours later I ended up entering another contest at Holy Frijoles. It was a taco eating contest—who could eat the most in five minutes. I ate 13.

Thirteen? In five minutes?

People came up to me and said, “Are you a competitive eater?” I just joked around and said, “No, I can just shovel food into my mouth.”

Did you plan to compete a second year?

I was talking myself up and trying to get people to sign up, and there were two other people who were doing it who had done it last year, too. They were kind of gunning for me, so I had to do it. Then there was this one little boy whose friend was threatening to spit in my bread pudding.

Would you have eaten it with spit in it?

Probably not.

What was the competition like?

There was this one guy who was in his 20s. I looked over and he was more than halfway done, he was basically almost finished. But he was eating too fast, and he started gagging, and that’s when I picked up my win this year.

So you can eat too fast?

There’s only so much food you can swallow without your stomach resisting you. If you watch the video, in the middle I sit up and do the Kobayashi shake—he has that copyrighted shake. It worked, everything got settled down.

How did you decide to enter last year?

It’s like a joke in my family that I’m always the one who eats more than anyone else. We were at Hampdenfest, and I was working at a booth for WLOY. We know Denise, the owner of Café Hon, and we do a lot of work with them. I was like, all right, I’ll enter it. And I ended up winning it.

What are your favorite foods—besides bread pudding?

I love nachos. Nachos are definitely my favorite. I’m a really bad cook, but oatmeal is one of my favorites. I could live on oatmeal. My roommate and I were counting and we had 220 servings of oatmeal in our room. Other than that, I love pizza. What New Yorker doesn’t like pizza?

After your first win, how did you tell your parents?

I called them at the end of the day. I said, “Mom, dad, not only is your daughter a genius, but I’m also a competitive eater.” This year I told them about the email from Loyola’s public relations office. My parents said, “Alexandra, really? This is what you want stories written about you?”

What story would they rather read about their daughter?

Well, I run a program for WLOY called What Happens Next, which has won two national awards and is a finalist for this year’s award. It’s a free volunteer program for kids from 4 to 12 years old. I read them stories and the story has no ending. They get to write the ending. We go through the entire writing process. We’ll pick up vocabulary they’re not familiar with. Then they get to record it on air. And it’s played every Saturday on the station. It’s like my baby here at Loyola.

You’re also a tour guide and a biology major. What are your plans for after graduation?

I’m applying to dental school. And a couple weeks earlier, I posted (to Facebook) about my grade on the DAT (dental admission test). More people liked my status on the bread pudding. Some of the people wrote on the status, “Alex, I’ve never been prouder of you.”

So you want to be a dentist?

Both of my parents, my uncles, and my grandparents are dentists. A lot of people fear the dentist, definitely. It’s probably the most hated doctor out there. When I went to the dentist, it was like a family reunion. Part of my mission statement to dental school is that I want my patients to feel as comfortable as I felt. You change a person’s smile and their whole personality changes.

Did you mention competitive eating on your dental school applications?

No, but maybe I should have.

Maybe dentists wouldn’t approve of eating bread pudding covered in caramel. But you brushed when you finished, right?

Oh, yes, of course. (Laughs) And flossed, too.

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