But the massive breakfast challenge at Sylvia’s Café can stretch even the strongest stomach.
“Quite frankly, I can’t believe people can actually eat it,” said café owner and Hibernator mastermind Taylor Montigny.
The Hibernator is the size of four breakfasts. It includes a Sylvia’s scrambler (two scrambled eggs served with cheese and your choice of vegetables, bacon, ham or sausage), topped with corned beef hash, piled under two more eggs and surrounded by bacon, sausage and ham. A stack of buttermilk pancakes and a biscuit rounds out the meal.
Eat it all in 30 minutes and the food’s free. Winners also earn a T-shirt and have their photograph posted on the restaurant’s “Wall of Fame.”
Losers pay the $30 bill and are featured on the “Wall of Shame.”
Television food shows inspired Montigny to create a Downeast eating challenge. He is a big fan of Adam Richman, host of “Man v. Food” on the Travel Channel.
The Hibernator is thus named because those who eat the meal tend to go home and curl up for a nap afterward, Montigny explained.
The Hibernator is hard to forget.
Tony Murray, a salesman at Stanley Subaru, said the meal was the most food that has ever been served to him at once.
“It was literally nonstop eating for 30 minutes,” he said.
He completed the challenge in just over 29 minutes as fellow customers cheered him on.
Jimmy Shedeck of Ellsworth finished his Hibernator in 44 minutes, back when challengers had an hour to complete the meal.
He began preparing a week in advance by eating a little more each day.
“It was pretty tough,” Shedeck said, particularly because he dislikes corned beef hash.
Shedeck’s strategy was to divide the meal into four parts and eat each within 15 minutes.
Will he attempt the Hibernator challenge again?
“Nope,” he said.
Of the 62 diners who have accepted the challenge, 38 have succeeded and 24 have failed.
The reigning champion finished in just 15 minutes.
Some challengers are down to their last bite when they can go no further.
“They hit a wall,” Montigny said.
The eating challenge is one of the personal touches he and his wife, Codie, have added to the café they purchased four years ago. They have also added menu items and accumulated a selection of 125 hot sauce varieties at the Mill Mall business.
For noncompetitive eaters, Sylvia’s has a full breakfast and lunch menu.
“We really try to emphasize quality product at the lowest possible price,” Montigny said
Breakfast options include omelets, eggs, pancakes and homemade corn beef hash.
Popular lunch options include club sandwiches, the fried haddock sandwich and hand-formed burgers made with meat from Friends & Family Market.
“I like feeding people,” Montigny said. “I like trying to make people happy through food.”
Sylvia’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Monday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.