I met with Chad Garyet and his girlfriend Nagisa Takahashi on last Wednesday at Home Slice. I met Chad for the first time at the 2010 Hands On a Eggplant Sub Contest, where he placed 3rd. We went out to the back patio and discussed his participation in the 2010 Carnival, and his intentions to take the title on this upcoming Carnival 2012.
Phil: Can you recall your fondest memory from the 2010 Carnival O Pizza?
Chad: There are two, really. The first was when my Mom brought Battleship. I played anyone. I played my Mom, my Dad, the other competitors. Everyone.
Phil: Nice. What’s the other memory?
Chad: It was that second morning you came by to watch over us from 4:00 AM – 6:00 AM and brought your guitar. It was really fun. You told us all those war stories from when you were a bartender in New York. Like the time you set yourself on fire…
Phil: Those were good times. Hanging out with you guys. Not so much the setting myself on fire part. Any moments of craziness in your time with the hand on the sub?
Chad: Midnight of Sunday. This woman came by with a yappy little dog. You know, one of those tiny yap-yap-yap dogs. So there we are, where we’ve been for about 30 hours at that point, and up comes the woman with the dog. I pet the dog. So there I am, one hand in the sub and one hand petting this woman’s yappy dog and up comes this big German shepherd. The German shepherd starts barking at the yappy dog. The yappy dog starts freaking out. The German shepherd starts lunging for the yappy dog. And there I am in the middle of it with one hand on the dog, and one hand on the sub.
Phil: How about a moment of clarity?
Chad: It was when I knew I wasn’t going to win. It was down to the three of us: me, Sonia, and Lauren. It was right after the point Lauren started feeling sick. She went white. I mean, WHITE. I thought for sure she was done for. But no. Lauren just kept on. Stoic. I realized then and there I wasn’t going to beat her; and I realized second gets nothing better than third. I mean, I’d already won the bottle of wine for raising the most money. And I was staring at the tip jar. I kept thinking that I’d done enough, competed long enough. It kind of felt that taking second and losing was less honorable than walking away with third place on my own volition. It was like a tactical move.
Phil: Any advice you want to give this year’s crop of competitors.
Chad: I’m going to compete this year so I’m going to have to take the fifth.
Chad and I talk off record regarding some alterations he’s making to his approach this year. He’s been busy thinking about this, people.
Phil: Can you tell us anything about preparation?
Chad: I’m going to stay off my feet until the last minute. Also, I’m not coming to the event until the last minute. Last time around I got to the Carnival right when it started @ noon. The competition didn’t start until 5:00. That was five extra hours of standing I didn’t need to do. The Carnival was really fun; don’t get me wrong. But I’m in it to win and I’m not doing any extra standing this year. I’m also going to stay up late and wake up maybe an hour before the competition. The sleep thing is a pretty big deal.
Phil: What about footwear?
Chad: I’m not going to tell you about this year (he told me; it’s pretty cool but confidential) but last time it was sandals and bare feet.
Phil: And how’d that work out for you?
Chad: Not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.
Phil: Why is this competition special to you?
Chad: Because before it was just a restaurant, and now I really know what Home Slice is all about, and that’s because I got to know it through that competition. I mean, everyone who works at Home Slice really seems to love it, to love the thing they’re doing. I know people who say it’s just another pizza shop, but they’re wrong. Home Slice is really pretty special.
Phil: I gotta say, your support team was pretty impressive.
Chad: Yeah, my parents and friends are really awesome. My Mom spent like 10-15 minutes every day just rubbing my legs. Scott, my high school friend hung out through the entire first night while my parents went home and slept. Scott also took care of Miyaa (Chad’s cat). But that’s fair because I’ve taken care of his cat too.
Phil: Nagisa, are you prepared to stand by and support Chad through all of this?
Nagisa: I can’t drive. But I’ll get a ride from his parents and support him.
Phil: What frightens you in a competitor, Chad?
Chad: Sonia’s huge family for sure. I mean, there were ALWAYS there. Just so much support. That was pretty intimidating. And Lauren’s stoicism. Her strength and perseverance. I’m pretty sure I’m going to win this year because Lauren isn’t competing.
Phil: What inspires you?
Chad: That same strength and perseverance. It was so amazing when she came back from feeling sick and just stuck with it. It was totally inspiring.
Phil: Even though you took third, do you still consider yourself a H.O.E.?
Chad: Absolutely. I’m infamous at the place I used to work for being that crazy guy who did that crazy thing. When I was doing the competition I started posting a pic an hour on face book. By the end I had tons of people following it, following me. People still look at those pics. People still recognize me from it. But it’s bigger than that. Being a H.O.E. showed me what I could do, what I was capable of.
Phil: What was it like when you put your hand in the sub?
Chad: It was like cleaning dog poop. Except without the bag that you put your hand in to pick up the poop. It wasn’t anything worse than I’ve dealt with before, really. And, actually, afterwards my hands were really soft for like a month. Like really nice and soft. People remarked on it.