MCCORDSVILLE, Ind. — Most people who have ever attempted the Half Sheet Challenge at Trax BBQ in McCordsville knows it will likely leave you stuffed for the rest of the day — if you even finish it.
But then again, Katina DeJarnett is not like most people.
When she stepped up to the plate for the Half Sheet Challenge, DeJarnett polished off a little more than half a pound (each) of pulled chicken, pulled pork, brisket, and andouille sausage, plus six hushpuppies, a side of mac and cheese, a side of dill potato salad, a side of coleslaw, and two slices of Texas toast. And then she had dessert.
“That was one of the most memorable BBQ platters I’ve ever had, and the staff at Trax was super friendly and accommodating,” said DeJarnett.
She is known for her online persona, “Katina Eats Kilos” where she shares videos of herself attempting (and most of the time conquering) food challenges across the country, often with her boyfriend Randy Santel, the curator of foodchallenges.com.
DeJarnett and Santel are based out of Milwaukee and consider themselves to be professional eaters rather than competitive eaters like the current GOAT Joey Chestnut.
“I’ve only ever done three eating contests before. Randy and I refer to ourselves as professional eaters instead, because our primary focus is to be us vs. the food at restaurants – not necessarily other people.”
So how does one enter the professional eating world?
For DeJarnett, it started after competing in a women’s bodybuilding show in 2019. She had been dieting ahead of the competition and “vicariously” watching YouTube videos of other people doing restaurant challenges.
“After the show, I wanted to put on some weight, and I always knew I had an exceptionally large appetite. So I bought a cheap camera and took it along to film my first small restaurant challenge. It was the XXXL King Burger challenge at FatBurger.”
That challenge, as DeJarnett describes it, was “easy.”
Just one day before her show of gastrointestinal strength at Trax, DeJarnett competed in the Jack’s Donuts World Donut Hole Eating Championship in New Castle and devoured 116 donut holes in eight minutes.
Since she was in the area, a friend recommended she take on the Half Sheet Challenge. It was also a challenge Randy previously covered on his site.
DeJarnett admits barbeque challenges can be tricky when the meat is on the dry side, but luckily, that wasn’t an issue at Trax.
“Everything was cooked to perfection!”
If you couldn’t tell, DeJarnett is quite petite at 5’2″. People sometimes underestimate her when she shows up for an eating challenge to put down five pounds or so of food. But she doesn’t mind.
“It’s fun to walk into restaurants all innocent – and then just plow through a challenge,” she admitted. “A lot of fun comes from the banter between staff or patrons who think it’s impossible to eat so much – and then it’s a bit of a thrill to sort of be like, ‘Watch this!’ and win a challenge.”
DeJarnett says she trains for challenges by quickly eating a large low calorie meal (like a four-pound salad) with a two-liter of diet soda at least twice a week.
“I’m mostly in this to entertain people and create fun videos. I love meeting people at our challenge events, showcasing the food at restaurants, and creating a family friendly short video that anyone can sit down and watch, maybe have a laugh, and move on with their day with a smile on their face.”