Eat this, Scorsese! I've read Jordon Belfort's book of excess, greed and over-consumption yet I felt it paled in comparison to the same qualities, but on the Major League Eating circuit. I could talk of the eater who "palmed" a crab cake after the buzzer causing a $1,000 loss to a fellow competitor, or the money grab of negotiating all the prize money as an appearance fee in a Vegas extravaganza TV show. But like Quaaludes, it's been long digested. However, MLE eating and Wall Street did collide and collude albeit its greed turned towards altruism, its consumption turned towards charity. Due to the Byzantine nature of SEC regulations involving trading floor conduct and cake with a 60/40 frosting-to-cake ratio, I have had to obscure the names of the executives and their banks in the following post. All alleged payments were made in newly minted Canadian nickels and stock options in Axis 3 (a mail-order antacid).
Several months ago, Eater X and I joined a lunchtime crowd of 600 bankers on their trading floor -- let's call the place Nacho Bank (no affiliation with Nacho Bank Street -- the underground queso cheese/wrestling club in the West Village). I emceed while Eater X demonstrated Nathan's hotdog eating technique from "Double Japanesing" (two dogs at a time lined up with the molars) to "The Peter Criss Cross" (while wearing face paint, eating the buns first, but holding them like drumsticks before each dunk). Then several executives (and I believe someone in a teddy bear onesie) had an eat-off for charity. Side bets of thousands were made regarding reversals of fortune and the "buy low, eat high" capacity of an exec who had to follow his dozen hotdogs with a meeting with the Germans (can you belch weltanschauung?). Everyone at Nacho Bank was amazingly cool and kind, and it was one of the most fun lunches ever -- sort of Mad Men meets La Grand Bouffe.
Then, just a few nights ago, I was asked to serve as a celebrity food judge at a function to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I was joined by two high-ranked Morton's Steakhouse execs and a lawyer who has Cystic Fibrosis to judge seven teams' appetizer attempts. The open bar had been flowing for two hours and I noticed one team was made up of my trading floor buddies from Nacho Bank. The only sauce they were working with was from the open bar but we were thrilled to see each other. They were the last team to deliver their food offering and while all other teams had made enough for the crowd, Team Nacho Bank made only enough for the four judges. First, however I tasted salmon wontons (high score for appearance) and nori wrapped sweat socks (low score for indelibleness). Just as I reached for the ceviche spoon from Nacho Bank, one of the execs yelled, "Don't eat it Crazy Legs, we had no citrus." I've eaten my way out of an eight foot box of popcorn (The popcorn sarcophagus) and chowed down on sticks of butter, live octopus and loose meat sandwiches -- A little poorly prepared ceviche was not going to kill me (but it might do in the other judges). I was told the fish was tilapia, which I don't think is sushi grade, but the add-on of Cheeto dust to the dish made me wonder how bad could it be? It was not bad... it was terrible. It tasted of low tide, ball bearings and armpit with an aftertaste of Drakkar Noir and turpentine. SEC regulations regarding collateralized loan obligations and dry rub seasoning be dammed -- I gave my Nacho Bank comrades a perfect score (ignoring that battleship grey is a bad color in food presentation). Nacho Bank would lose to the wonton team, but didn't seem bothered in the least. The event raised a ton of money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and as far as I know, the Morton's executives are still alive.
Perhaps this is the new Wall Street -- no hookers and blow but just philanthropy and a little booze, plus a lot of eating. When you overhear a mogul at the Regency power breakfast order a two dozen egg white omelets with side of a trough of oatmeal or a fellow Alton Lane bespoke suit customer ask for elastic pants with his three-piece, well, just wink and point and say, "Nacho Bank never sleeps... but always eats."
'Crazy Legs' Conti owns only two shares of Boston Celtics stock. He can be reached at www.crazylegsconti.com.