HomeCity NewsSalad-Eating Contest a Hopping Good Time

Salad-Eating Contest a Hopping Good Time

First published in the Feb. 5 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

Raina Huang, victorious, lowered her fork, chewed through her last bite of salad and had just one request for whoever happened to be closest.
“Can I get some napkins?”
With cleanup at the ready, Huang also received a round of cheers and a shiny glass trophy to go along with the 3.5 pounds of salad she just spent the prior 10 minutes wolfing down. At the conclusion of Chop Stop’s ballyhooed “Woman vs. Rabbit,” competitive eater and social media star Huang had set the bar for the world’s first salad-eating competition, at least according to Major League Eating, and soundly overtook competitor Honey, the 20-pound Flemish Giant rabbit, in the speed feast.
“It definitely seemed not bad to me,” Huang said, describing the prospect of the showdown, “because I’ve eaten 13 pounds of food before.”

Photos by Zane Hill / Glendale News-Press
Raina Huang set the inaugural salad competitive eating record, according to Major League Eating.

La Crescenta-based Chop Stop hosted the fete at its Glendale location Tuesday morning. Huang was challenged to eat as much as she could from four of the chain’s most popular salads, each bowl weighing in at about a pound, while Honey the rabbit was served a heap of mixed greens and veggies — romaine lettuce, spinach, cilantro, celery and carrots, as prescribed by the House Rabbit Society.
It was a high-stakes competition, one that ring man Kris Kloss declared would “put an end to the question, ‘Are salads really rabbit food?’”
That answer was “evidently not.” Despite the encouragement from fans and the prompts of breeder Louis Moses, Honey would do little more than lunge toward the offering and instead spent the 10 minutes calmly moseying around the table. Teammate Precious, weighing in at 19 pounds, performed no differently after being tagged in with around a minute to spare.
Moses speculated the cilantro threw off their appetites — he typically only feeds it to them when very young, for the same reason one gives babies baby food.
“If they were fearful, they would have been scampering off the table,” said Moses, who breeds the large lagomorphs at Happy Tails Rabbitry in Murrieta. “I haven’t fed them cilantro in years.”
Huang, a Walnut native and seasoned veteran of competitive eating, came prepared. She woke at 7 that morning to log a workout — a necessity for her competitive days, to build up an appetite. She dined as she usually did on her “off days,” which calls for a menu of vegetables and brown rice. Though never being tasked with speed or bulk-eating salad before Tuesday, she correctly speculated it would involve a lot more chewing than other foods require.
So, when she took her seat, she requested and received three cups of hot water.
“Hot water helps melt the food, so I’ll be having a lot of it to help with all the vegetables,” she said prior to the event.
It proved to be the key to success for a meal she described as more challenging to eat than, say, a wet burrito.
“That was probably the hardest part,” she concluded, “because you can’t swallow salad without chewing it.”
Chop Stop founder Mark Kulkis said Huang’s agent reached out about setting up some sort of event, which he was delighted to take on.
“I was thinking, ‘What could we do here that would generate some interest?’” he explained. “I don’t know why, but images came to me of rabbits. You see these images on the internet of people holding these giant rabbits.”
Not long after, he tracked down Moses, who was used to including his rabbits in a variety of entertainment events and immediately agreed. The contest was livestreamed (and remains available for viewing), and in-person attendees got free raffle tickets for a $100 Chop Stop gift card and some branded T-shirts.
Chop Stop and Huang promoted the event on social media, which prompted the expected response from young online folks in need of some silliness to offset two years of a pandemic. On Twitter, the grassroots group GlendaleOUT hailed “Woman vs. Rabbit” as “possibly the only event in Glendale better than Pride.”
“I was tickled by the whole idea,” Kulkis said. “It’s been gratifying to see the reaction when we put it on social media, especially on Twitter. That’s where you get the funniest comments.”
Kloss, a former play-by-play analyst for Xtreme Pro Wrestling and MTV’s Wrestling Society X, said that compared with the theatrical backdrop of wrestling that this was a strange event for him.
“It was very family-fun, G-rated stuff,” he said. “Nobody got clobbered with a steel chair, so that was pleasant. On the weird scale, it was up there. It was a peaceful sort of weirdness.”
Kulkis said, depending on the response to this event, that he may make such theatrics a semi-regular occurrence for his business in the future. Post-event, he said he’d be filtering through some more “crazy ideas.”
“This had a lot of interest and it worked out very well,” he said. “The rabbits weren’t so competitive, but they were really cute.”
Moses remained a good sport in spite of the anticlimactic result and was happy to garner exposure and some new fans for his rabbits.
“I love having my bunnies out and cheering for them,” he said. “Seven years ago, I didn’t know Flemish Giants existed. This is a wonderful opportunity to expose new people to a large rabbit.”
Next on Huang’s schedule was … more food. The svelte streamer insisted that the nearly four bowls (and pounds) of salad hadn’t quite sated her that morning.
“I’m nowhere near full,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’m maybe 40% there.”

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