updated 10/1/2007 4:57:28 AM ET 2007-10-01T08:57:28

He'll never want breakfast again.

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Pat Bertoletti, a Mohawk-sporting chef from Chicago, gulped down 21 pounds of buttery, goopy grits in 10 minutes to win $4,000 in the first World Grits Eating Championship at Louisiana Downs on Saturday.

The grits were presented in 2-pound trays, each about 8 inches by 6 inches and 1 1/2 inches deep, said Ryan Nerz, a spokesman for Major League Eating.

Bertoletti, in a statement, said the race "tested our stomach capacity like no other."

The buzz going in was that a lot of grits would go down because they are so easy to eat, Nerz said. There were nine contestants, and the top three ate a combined 60 pounds.

Tim "Eater X" Janus of New York was second, with 20 pounds. Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who this summer ate a record-breaking 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes to become world hot dog-eating champion, finished third, polishing off 19 pounds.

The top seven eaters split $10,000 in prize money.

Grainy grits — dried, ground corn that is then cooked back into mush or the soupy consistency used for the championship — are a Southern staple. They are often eaten for breakfast with butter or even sugar; sometimes chilled and then fried in slices; and, for more substantial meals, fortified with stronger-tasting foods such as cheese, bacon, shrimp.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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