With trophy in hand as the two-time champion, Nico Pasquotti was ready to divulge his secret.
No, not how he managed to scarf down an entire pizza in under two minutes.
But how the 163-pound soccer star masterminded a suspension from the Canadian Premier League that enabled him to defend his title as the Pizza Pigout eating contest champion Wednesday.
“I heard the event was on the 16th and I knew we had a game that day, so I was pretty down and knew it was going to be hard to make it work,” said the Cavalry FC forward, whose club played in Hamilton that same night.
“So I did what I could.”
What he did was get his fourth yellow card of the season two weeks earlier, prompting a league-mandated sit-down that opened the door for his triumph of gluttony.
Coincidence? OK, maybe.
Either way, he made the most of it.
“Earlier today, we were training at the facility and the goal was to burn off as many calories as possible to open it up so I could come here an put on a show,” chuckled Pasquotti, whose club vies for the CPL crown starting next Saturday against Forge FC.
Pasquotti’s stirring victory in front of 700 pizza-loving patrons at Cowboys capped the 17th Annual Eric Francis Pizza Pigout, which raised $81,000 for three local children’s charities.
Pasquotti handily out-ate Kodette Labarbara, Pete the Plumber, Pete the Electrician and Monier Borhot who accused Pasquotti of not chewing, en route to the cheese-filled championship.
“You put it in your mouth, add water and it goes straight down and you’re good,” said Pasquotti before breaking into a grin.
“I’m just kidding. That’s not how I do it.”
The Pigout was started in 1995 by then-Calgary Sun columnist Francis, with an eye on finding the city’s best pizza.
It has mushroomed into an affair that annually attracts a who’s who of the Calgary sports scene who chowed down on 650 pizzas generously donated this year by 41 local pizzerias and restaurants.
The celebrities, and those who paid $50 for all-you-can-eat pizza, are all VIPs (Very Important Pigs) who spend the first two hours of the event meandering through troughs of gluten (and gluten-free) greatness, sampling slices and rating them out of 100.
They do so to help compile the city’s definitive guide to ordering pizza, while also supporting KidSport Calgary, Kids Cancer Care and the Calgary Police Foundation via silent and live auctions, 50-50 ticket sales and a pizza box raffle that netted one supporter a trip for two anywhere WestJet flies, courtesy of the Calgary-based national airline.
A massive piggy bank placed at the front of the venue collected almost $5,000 in cash.
Generous cash donations from Weston Foods, Andrew Costello from Pharm Drugstore and W. Brett Wilson added to the causes, which are all aimed at removing various barriers facing youngsters in Calgary.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the generosity shown this year and every year from Calgary’s wonderful sports community I’ve been so proud to be a part of the last 25 years,” said Francis, now a Sportsnet columnist and TV analyst.
“Next year, our little pizza party will surpass the $1-million mark raised for local charities, which blows my mind. I never could have imagined anything like that when I started this at Dusty’s Saloon with about 100 people, including Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Bret Hart, Billy Powers, Sugarfoot Anderson, and Buckshot helping out.”
Buckshot was back again this year, rubbing shoulders with delighted fans who also got to chat with the likes of Brad Treliving, Kyle Shewfelt, Robyn Regehr, Mike Commodore, Jon Cornish, Junior Turner, Bearcat Murray, Cody Snyder, Brandon Smith, Kelly Hrudey, Ian Allison, John Bean, Rob Cote, Mike Cvik and endless Olympians and media-types.
Flames announcer Beesley, one of 30 volunteers who make the event possible, did a masterful job as emcee once again despite falling off a stage in the summer, hospitalizing him for over a week with serious injuries.
Local community leaders like Tammy Truman, Stephen Gillette, Brad Mechor, Tony Spoletini, Rob Meloff, Ross Babcock, Arfan Devji, Marshall Toner, Dan Carey and Colin Hewko all chipped with significant donations or sponsorships to help raise almost 20% more than a year earlier — no small feat in today’s economy. The Flames, Stamps, Hitmen, Roughnecks, Spruce Meadows, Cavalry FC, Obsidian Energy and the Wood Automotive Group all contributed significantly to the event’s success.
Everyone left with a map of the 41 pizza purveyors, so those in attendance could continue to support them all year long.
Francis’ Pigout is also making a difference in other cities now, as he helped former Olympian and The Amazing Race Canada host Jon Montgomery start one in Victoria three years ago.
Francis has also passed the baton to Jason Gregor and KidSport in Edmonton, where that city’s inaugural Pizza Pigout will be held this week.
4th Street Pizza – Pop’s Supreme
Allora Everyday Italian – Margherita
Atlas Pizza – All Meat
Avatara Pizza – Beyond Meat
Blaze Pizza – Green Stripe
Cibo 17th Ave – Wild Boar
Coco Brooks – The 808
Eastside Mario’s – Shawnessy – Braised Beef
Eddy’s Nest – House Special
Gus’s Pizza – Pepperoni, Mushroom, Green Pepper
Howies Pizza – Tropical Hawaiian
Inglewood Pizza – Curry Butter Chicken
Italian Supermarket – Fiorentino Fig
Jamesons Irish Pub – Truffle Cheese Blend
Jon’s Pizza – Dan the Man
Kings Head Pub – Taco
Lorenzo’s Pizzeria – Pesto Margarita
Mad Rose Pub Royal Oak – Donair
Matador Pizza & Steakhouse – Greek
Melrose Café & Bar – Truffle Mushroom
Michael’s Pizza & Restaurant – Meat Lovers With Mushrooms
Pauls Pizza – Cheeseburger
Pizza Bank – Cajun Chicken
Pizza Mercato – Isola
Pizza 22 + Ribs – Butter Chicken
Poco Loco Pizza – Mexican
Posto Pizzeria & Bar – Potato, Cremem Fraiche, Smoked Pancetta
Sammy’s Worlds Greatest Pizza – Hawaiian
Scotian Style Pizza & Take Out – Meat Lovers
Spiros Pizza on 17th – Holy Smoke Meat
Stavro’s Sports Bar – Mexican
The Den & Black Lounge – Bison Meatball & Saskatoon Berry
The Garage Sports Bar – Triple Cheese
Tipsy Pig Pub – Malwoody
Tops Pizza & Steakhouse (South) – All Meat
Windsor Pizza Co. – Windsor Classic
Oakridge Pizza – Smokey Chicken Florentine Cacciatore
Carmine’s Pizzeria – The OG
Dover Pizza & Steakhouse – Hawaiian
Vern’s Pizza – Vern’s Special
Coco Brooks – Donair
Italian Supermarket – Tokyo Joe Spicy Tuna
Jamesons Irish Pub – Spicy Shrimp
Kings Head Pub – Thai Chicken
Matador Pizza & Steakhouse – Chicken Wing
Matador Pizza & Steakhouse – Veal-ly Good
Scotian Style Pizza & Take Out – Seafood
Stavro’s Sports Bar – Cheeseburger Royale ‘N Fries
The Den & Black Lounge – Carolina Gold BBQ Jackfruit Pizza
Tops Pizza & Steakhouse (South) – Lasagna Pizza
Oakridge Pizza – Under The Sea
Windsor Pizza Co. – Cheesesteak
4th Street Pizza
Sammy’s Worlds Greatest Pizza
Spiros Pizza on 17th
Dover Pizza & Steakhouse
Allora Everyday Italian – Pollo
Jon’s Pizza – BBQ Chicken
Lorenzo’s Pizzeria – Mediterranean Chicken
Mad Rose Pub Royal Oak – Chicken Alfredo
Matador Pizza & Steakhouse – Chicken Spinach Feta
Pizza 22 + Ribs – Buuter Chicken
Sammy’s Worlds Greatest Pizza – BBQ Chicken
BEST ALL MEAT
East Side Mario’s – Shawnessy
Michael’s Pizza & Restaurant
Pizza 22 + Ribs
Poco Loco Pizza
Scotian Style Pizza & Take Out
Tops Pizza & Steakhouse (South)
Kings Head Pub
Atlas – Greek Goddess
Blaze – Red Vine
Cibo 17th Ave – Mushroom
Melrose Café & Bar – Supreme Garden Pesto
Paul’s Pizza – Veggie
Pizza Mercato – Pomodoro
The Garage Sports Bar -VW Vegetarian
Carmine’s Pizzeria – Capo
BEST GLUTEN FREE
Michael’s Pizza & Restaurant
Posto Pizzeria & Bar
Spiros Pizza on 17th
Tipsy Pig Pub – Pig Pie
Windsor Pizza Co. – The Spitfire
Oakridge Pizza – 4 Season 4 Cheezin
Spiros Pizza on 17th – Cowboy’s & Heroes
Vern’s Pizza – TREX