A Fistful of Dumplings


Miki Sudo, left, and Matt Stonie gobble down dumplings during the 2016 Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship on June 20 at the JACCC Plaza.

Miki Sudo, left, and Matt Stonie gobble down dumplings during the 2016 Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship on June 20 at the JACCC Plaza.


By J.K. YAMAMOTO and MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Staff Writers

The contest was minus the world’s marquee competitive eater, but that did little to lessen the gastric spectacle in Little Tokyo on June 20.

Matt “Megatoad” Stonie fell short of his personal best from last year, but still won the 10th annual Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship at the JACCC Plaza, downing 323 potstickers in 10 minutes.

In besting some of the top “gurgitators” in the sport, the Nikkei from San Jose received $1,600 and a trophy from Jason Uno of Day-Lee Foods and a Day-Lee Foods happi coat from 2016 Nisei Week Queen Jaclyn Tomita. The rest of the $5,000 purse was distributed to the other top 10 finishers.

“I was shooting for 300, but above all, my goal is to come out and win,” a full-bellied Stonie said after his victory. “I like this event because gyoza are easy – they go down fast.”

Last year, Stonie ate 377 gyoza, beating his chief rival, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, by just four. Chestnut, who did not compete this year, holds the world record for gyoza-eating — 384.

Chestnut, also from San Jose, and Stonie are the No. 1 and No. 2 competitive eaters in the world, respectively. In this year’s Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, Chestnut took the title by downing 70 hot dogs, 17 more than Stonie.


Matt Stonie repeated as champ and won $1,600, as well as the adulation of the Nisei Week Queen and Court.

Matt Stonie repeated as champ and won $1,600, as well as the adulation of the Nisei Week Queen and Court.


Chestnut chose to enter the Chaco’s Taco Festival competition held Aug. 20 in San Jose, where he ate 79 tacos — winning but falling short of Stonie’s world record of 103 in eight minutes. (Traditional gyoza emcee Sam Barclay was also in San Jose that day.)

“I’m bummed he didn’t come. I love the rivalry,” Stonie said of Chestnut’s absence.

Fourteen professional eaters participated in the gyoza event, which was part of this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival and was officially sanctioned by Major League Eating. Richard Shea, MLE co-founder and president, served as emcee. The competitors were cheered on by the Nisei Week Court, who helped serve plates of gyoza, and Aki the Akita, Nisei Week’s mascot.

This marked Stonie’s first MLE win since May.

“Do not think for a moment, however, that Stonie’s win deserves an asterisk for Chestnut’s absence,” MLE said in a statement. “Stonie’s performance in this event was complete, perfect and dominant. The job of a top-ranked eater is to win, no matter the challenges or challengers. Stonie rose to meet all comers with his trademark speed and strength.”


Sudo receives a plaque and a case of beer as her third-place prize from Day-Lee Foods’ Jason Uno. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Sudo receives a plaque and a case of beer as her third-place prize from Day-Lee Foods’ Jason Uno. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)


Stonie, who began competitive eating for a lark and to make a few bucks, said he enters around a dozen contests per year. His next challenge was the Tioga Downs World Chicken Spiedie Eating Championship in New York the following weekend. (Stonie won by eating 20 chicken sandwiches in 10 minutes, a world record, followed by Chestnut with 16.75.)

Geoffrey Esper of Boston, making his gyoza contest debut, was second with 243, and Miki Sudo of Las Vegas finished third, as she did last year, with 229 — an improvement from 178 last year. Sudo was the top female finisher in the Nathan’s Famous contest, where she scarfed down 38½ hot dogs.

Sudo, 31, tied her personal best and remains the top-ranked female competitive eater in the world, but felt he wasn’t in top form this time.

“I love the Nisei Week gyoza contest. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I was prepared today, though. I think I needed a little more time to prepare and lock it down.”

Sudo said her next competition will be a pumpkin pie-eating event in Elk Grove on Oct. 2.