Kate Ovens scarcely needs a seat belt to keep her harnessed as she tackles Food Challenges across the country. Speaking candidly she talks about a hard swallow and that last bite.

Kate led us deep into the under belly of a chicken bar in East London, her face already very familiar thanks to the notoriety served up by a multitude of pixels from our World Wide Web. We sat for a moment as I wafted an awkward air about the room with forced chatter on the state of British airline safety belts. Thankfully a waiter broke my patter, flowing into the room to take our order. On his retraction, I found other words, sheepishly asking for an introduction and in that instance, lights, camera, action, Kate lit up the room.

‘I take on man vs food challenges from time to time, I’ve always been a big eater right from the off…’ Kate, hit the ground shooting off like a getaway rocket on horseback. She spread words liberally, only occasionally pausing to rest some on a shelf for later, and gayly sprinted from one theme to another, answering all our feebly scrawled questions in one swoop. ‘I used to be a little bit Chubby growing up and then when I got to about the age of sixteen seventeen I was like I really want to lose this weight, so I lost the weight but I didn’t lose my appetite.’ Chubby!? If we were likening the kind of surplus Kate talked of to a wintery flurry then I doubt you’d need to get excited about rolling a snowman, I’d bet scarcely a snow-cone was on offer. She steamed on, ‘The higher the calorie the more I want it like Candy floss is a living dream for me.’ She laughs, skipping from vowel to a whole new continent, Italy, ‘if I got to eat whatever I like I think I would eat pizza way more than I do now.’ Kate was in full flow, unstoppable, riding high on a scud-Bugatti, mowing down all and every matter of food.

‘To get through a food challenge I would say it’s about speed, within the first twenty minutes of eating is usually when the walls will go up, so I’ll try and eat as fast as I can.’ We were all imagining that to be quick, as her jabber was rapid. ‘When the walls start going up it’s just about trying to swallow it down, but there are some things where you can just feel it sat in your throat.’ Kate’s words struck home with a speed and accuracy of a seasoned storyteller, striking a stealth blow that only materialised when an attempt was made on our own plate of food. Her words had carried a resonance that meant passing a chip was torturous and even the guzzling of an iced beverage lumpy, we sympathised, eating food wasn’t easy. ‘I don’t win all of my challenges I don’t even get close to some of them and I’d never push myself to being sick.’ I was feeling sick, my throat backed up with a cold chip. ‘Unless it was the final bite.’ Rather her than me, but I gracefully raised my napkin gesturing a toast before ridding myself of this blockage with a hearty starch stoked cough.

‘I hate having to eat healthily I’d rather just shove my face into a burger every day but I can’t, I know exactly what is right for my body, I’ve been to the doctor to make sure my health is all up to check.’ Arrrgh, Millennials! So Sensible aren’t thou, eat that bloody burger if you so feel! What is it with this generation? It’s the second time in one week a young tike has dismantled their diet, reasoned out the undesirable and left me wondering what science class I’d missed out on. Somebody, please lick the colour from her rocket and stinger that scud-bike, am I the only ignorant one? Does everybody know exactly what their body needs to get by and thus balance out the bad? I just put stuff in mine and listen quietly to see if it likes it. Fuck you millennials! Work harder on being hell raisers! Kate, granted does have a very good reason to be informed, as food challenges taken lightly surely would have an adverse effect so apologies for my outburst.

Undeterred she reels on, unwound but not entirely loose, oblivious of my ageing objections. ‘I eat very normally in front of other people, I don’t have to eat massively all the time or anything, I’m just like everybody else really.’ Kate wipes her mouth, she’s a messy eater, then she had managed to devour a large chicken wrap whilst talking with very few breaths, impressive, maybe she can break that dastardly 21st-century mould. ‘People know me to eat big and if like I don’t finish a meal I do kind of feel a bit bad.’ Then do! Eat, gorge, see every meal as a challenge or remain at the table until you’re done, blow up like a balloon until you pop and let the pigeons feast on what’s left. Ha! Kate brilliantly proved to be a measured eater but not one that shied from a naughty meal for the sake of health, she was well up for it. For her, food challenges are in fact, the motivator that rebalanced the scale and kept Kate a conscious eater and jeez! Take a peek at what’s she’s been eating, it warrants a little good behaviour and whether you followed a word or shared an interest, the girl has a screen presence, it wouldn’t matter if food be the topic or Sheepskins of Alaska, she’d find a word or two.

Kate Ovens Food Challenges

Archive footage courtesy of Clifton Chilli Club
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