Man meets his match in porterhouse

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A reverent awe spread across the restaurant during its grand entrance.

It glistened in the pale glow, quietly daring patrons to make the first move.

Mike Mathes stared in disbelief. He'd never seen 72 ounces of porterhouse before, at least, not in one chunk and not meant for him.

His man versus steak bout was the star ticket in Jackson on Tuesday as diners packed Sidetracks Steak and Rib House, jockeying for a glimpse of the beefy behemoth -- the porterhouse, that is.

If Mathes ate it in a hour -- minus the bone and fat -- the $50 steak was free, plus he won $106.

"I ain't ready, but I'm going to try," he announced, picking up a woefully inadequate steak knife.

But his heart wasn't in it. The Cape Girardeau developer admitted he was only there responding to an on-the-air challenge from KWKZ 106.1 radio personality Cousin Carl, who was on hand to award the prize and broadcast the results.

And the results were dissatisfying. Before finishing even a pound, Mathes cut up his leftover meat, requested a box of toothpicks from a waiter and handed out samples.

Diner Vicky Abernathy of Jackson picked up a sizable chunk. "Is this the petite sirloin?" she cracked.

Two hours later, after the live remote was over and reporters were long gone, a man sat alone in a corner, ate the steak in well under 60 minutes and asked about claiming his $106 from KWKZ before slipping out.

Sidetracks owner Don Harris special ordered the unusual cuts from Fruitland Dressed Meats. Anyone with $50 can take the challenge, but Harris suggests calling ahead.

"It takes over an hour to cook it."

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