Coloradans love burritos; both Chipotle and Illegal Pete's started their burrito empires here for good reason. But few people love them like Michael Odbert, burrito enthusiast, amateur burrito photographer -- he chronicles his love affair on an Instagram account dedicated to his burrito-filled meals -- and occasional competitive eater. Last night, for the second year running, he entered the Riot Fest burrito-eating contest hosted by Illegal Pete's.
The first thing 24-year-old Odbert said when we contacted him this morning is that he had just eaten a breakfast burrito, which he described as "a bomb burrito," at his office in Longmont.
It was impressive that he was able to stomach a breakfast burrito, considering last night's competition. Riot Fest and Illegal Pete's have run the competition for two years, with the grand prize being a pair of VIP Riot Fest passes and seats on Illegal Pete's Riot Fest shuttle bus. Contestants eat only one burrito per timed heat, with the winner of each heat advancing to a final eat-off; Odbert has entered both years...and lost both times.
"I wasn't even close to the guy who won my heat," Odbert says, adding that he's never been a fast eater and that this year the burritos were potato-filled, which adds an extra challenge: "When you're trying to eat fast, if it's really dry, that's game over."
Last year he made it to the final round, but eventually came up short. He said he didn't care, though; it was still a great time.
"It was actually better than last year; it was more talked about," Odbert says of this year's contest. "Definitely a lot more people watching -- that was awesome. I wasn't going there expecting to do anything but eat a burrito."
Illegal Pete's is currently Odbert's favorite burrito place, and he says he was actually fine with losing, because he was able to fully enjoy his burrito. He also loves Chipotle and any Mexican restaurant with a decent burrito.
When he's not trying to win tickets to Riot Fest by downing burritos, Odbert is taking photos of them for his Instagram account. As of this morning, he's eaten and documented 252 burritos in just under two years. The first one appeared on August 22, 2012, after his friends noticed that he was on a burrito binge and suggested that he document them. From there it has been a social-media-fueled love affair that shows no sign of ending.
"I just love burritos," he says.
Here's Illegal Pete's footage of last year's burrito challenge, with Odbert (in the burgundy T-shirt) appearing in the final round, beginning at minute 4:42.