The food challenge, available at the Dalby Café and dubbed ‘The Megga Breakfast’, consists of four rashers of bacon, four eggs, four sausages, hash browns, onion rings, bubble and squeak, two slices of thick bread, and a quarter-pounder burger and chips – a hefty plate of food that Doherty polished off in under 20 minutes.
It’s a story that prompts a thousand-and-one questions. How? Why? Is he okay? What unholy state was his bog in that afternoon? Et cetera. But Pete’s not talking (we asked).
So naturally, we had to call up the owner of the Dalby Café, Mark Ezekiel, to spill the beans.
So how did this come about? Did he just wander into the café?
“Yeah, I thought he did, but he had actually come in Saturday. He didn’t have his card with him, and was like, ‘Oh, can I do it now?’ He didn’t, because he didn’t have the money, so he came back just randomly on Tuesday. He bowled in with his dog – well, he couldn’t come inside with his dog, so he sat outside. We’ve had a lot of people come in and not even make dents in it, compared to what he did. That photo where he’s looking a bit ropey, that’s actually only about six or seven minutes in – he’d eaten that much in six of seven minutes, basically! I think that’s probably why… well, he’s obviously famous for what he does, but I think that’s part of why he looked a bit rough in that first photo.”
Did you recognise him when he walked in?
“I wasn’t here! But my manager Owen was, and yeah, he recognised him. He’s a pretty down-to-earth guy. My manager even got a selfie with him that afternoon. He was walking home and Pete was out – obviously changed and washed – and did a selfie with him. He could’ve obviously been a bit snobby and told him to eff off, but he didn’t. He’s just a nice guy, really!”
How many people have attempted this challenge, then? It looks absolutely ridiculous.
“Yeah, it’s a bit stupid, really. We go through phases of people trying it out. It’s been going since 2002 or 2003. Then that Man Vs. Food came out, and that became a big thing, so it got even bigger. It’s just always been there – I’ve always had it more for a talking point. And obviously now it’s getting talked about a lot!”
Were you pretty shocked he managed it? He’s not a big guy…
“Well, he’s not big-big, but he’s tall! He’s 6’2” or 6’3” – he’s deceptively bigger than you’d think. And obviously he can put it away!”
Have you spotted him around Margate a bunch, then?
“No, I personally haven’t. My sister has – she’s been walking her dog, and he’s been walking his dog, and they’ve stopped and chatted. I’ve heard of people going to cash points and bumping into him at the cash point and chatting to him. Loads of little incidents like that – he’s quite a nice, cool guy, just happy to chat to people. He’s been spotted a bit – I don’t know if he gets bothered too much, but everyone that has bothered him, he’s been hospitable.”
They’re building that new hotel and studio down there – they’re really bedding into the community.
“Yeah, and sponsoring Margate football club! Someone told me that Margate sold 300 shirts last year, and this year they’ve sold 40,000. It does look pretty cool with the Libertines sign on it, though! It’s obviously a win-win for both.”
Margate’s had a big regeneration recently, too.
“Oh, yeah – I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but a lot of things have gone on. It’s actually my dad who was the councillor that set it all up years ago – the steps going down to the harbour so people can go sit on there and have fish and chips; the Turner centre; Dreamland; the Old Town project. All these things are now starting to really kick off – they were all seeds planted about ten years ago.”
Is it nice to see Margate becoming a bit of a creative destination?
“Yeah, definitely. There’s a big buzz about the place. There’s a lot of people down from London – we call them ‘DFLs’, ‘Down From London’, that’s our nickname for them.”
And presumably you’ve had a big upswing of interest in the café, too?
“Yeah – last time I looked was last night, and 900,000-something people had looked at that post on Facebook. We’ve had six- or seven-hundred people ‘like’ our page, so we’ve got a few more followers!”
You should get a plaque outside or something.
“We’ve got the ‘Megga Board’! We get a lot of artists come in, so we’re gonna get them to do something a bit snazzier, and put his name up there. Obviously, for a lot of people, it’s a big talking point, and a bit of a selling point for us! Obviously there’s been a few cynics, but we’ve got CCTV. Even if we hadn’t posted that he’d eaten it, I think he’d still have done it, but the fact that he smashed it…”
Are there any other musicians that you’d like to get to take the challenge?
“Well, maybe every band that ever comes down to [Margate venue] The Winter Gardens, they could do the challenge.”
You should try and get it on the rider.
“Yeah! We get a lot of cool bands that come down to The Winter Gardens, Dreamland and all the rest of it, so yeah – I’d happily open up just for them in the afternoon. We might be too busy in the morning.”
The Dalby Cafe can be found at 4-6 Dalby Road, Cliftonville, Margate, Kent CT9 2EX