Rick Brown has always wanted to do something big with food. And not just making-your-mom-proud big.
No, Brown has had his eyes on something more like one-for-the-Guinness-books big. On Saturday afternoon, Brown hopes his dream will come true, as he oversees construction of what will be the world’s largest nacho plate at Memorial Stadium, as Kansas Relays participants race around the track.
“I’ve always had a hankering where I can break some sort of food record,” says Brown, general manager of Kansas Athletics’ food vendor, Centerplate. “The Relays seemed like a natural fit for something that was fun, and is about breaking records.”
Just as track and field record-holders experience fleeting glory - when Jamaican track star Usain Bolt set the world record for the 100-meter sprint in 2008, the record was just a year old - the record for the world’s largest nacho plate seems to change hands on a regular basis.
In October, a restaurant in Billerica, Mass., served up nachos weighing in at a gut-busting 3,999 pounds. In April 2010, a Texas church cooked up a stunning 3,555 pounds of chips, meat and salsa. That was preceded by a mere 3,158 pounds served by a Vermont burrito joint in 2008.
But if all goes well Saturday, the record could stay in Lawrence for a long time.
“This is 80 feet long, three feet wide, and 4,600 pounds,” Brown says.
To put that in perspective, a male rhinocerous weighs 4,600 pounds. So does a Mercedes Benz S-Class. So does the tongue of a blue whale.
Thankfully, track fans won’t be digging in to any of those, but they will enjoy:
- 1,200 pounds of beans
- 860 pounds of beef
- 860 pounds of nacho cheese
- 600 pounds of tortilla chips
- 600 pounds of fresh salsa, tomatoes and cilantro
- 315 pounds of jalapenos
- 200 pounds of Iguana Dip from the Salty Iguana
While serving up more than two tons of nachos may seem like an exercise in gluttony, Brown says setting a world record is a secondary motivation:
“For KU Athletics and Centerplate and the Salty Iguana, the focus is to put together the community to get people and fundraise for LINK,” the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen, he says.
Kansas Relays ticketholders who give a dollar or a canned food donation can secure their place in the record books.
Brown says it will take 11 hours to cook and build the record-breaking feast, which will be served on a custom-built Jayhawk-themed nacho boat. Eighty people from Centerplate, the Salty Iguana and LINK will work to put it together, and the massive meal will be served on the east side concourse of the stadium. And they’ve been working for weeks to ensure the nacho plate not only meets the guidelines set out by the Guinness Book of World Records (nachos plopped on a platter won’t do; it has to resemble an actual nacho plate), which will have a representative on-site, but also the state’s food safety regulations.
The giant serving will have a minimum temperature of 160 degrees, Brown says, ensuring people won’t gobble up bad ingredients.
Chelsea Good, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Food Safety, says a representative will be on hand to monitor the safety of the food. Good says the Kansas Food Code states food is considered safe for up to four hours once it’s been removed from temperature control; after that, it should be discarded. Brown says the nacho plate will conform to the code, and will be served from noon to 2:30 p.m. Athletes from the KU football, soccer and rowing teams will serve up the nachos.
Even if the entire spread isn’t eaten - again, 4,600 pounds of nachos - Brown will be satisfied if the record stays in Lawrence for a while.
“We wanted to do something where you go, ‘Wow, that’s really amazing.’”