Saxon on Radio’s Great Yum Cha Challenge

Observation from Peter Saxon

Every now and again I like to take part in a station promotion and mingle, incognito, with the punterslisteners that win a double pass by being the 5thor 6th caller.
Of course, being in the media myself, I usually don’t have to call. Rather, I’m kindly extended an invitation by the lovely PR people at the various networks.
Being highly disciplined to the extent that I can resist anything and everything except temptation, I found myself drawn to a colourful red invitation that arrived in my inbox from WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt aimed at setting a new benchmark for the largest group of people ever to eat Yum Cha (Dim Sum in other parts of the world) together.
With my love of yum cha and this being the Year of the Pig, I felt the signs could not be more auspicious for trotting down to Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour and help give the old record a nudge.
Things did not start well.
On arrival, the line to get in to the arena seemed to stretch half way across the Harbour Bridge. I looked for the VIP entrance in vain and in the end had to resign myself to take my place at the back of the queue with the rest of the puntocracy.
Then, a glimmer of hope. As the line slowly snaked forward, I found myself opposite a heavy iron gate in the process of being unlocked by a WS capped operative. Was this the VIP entrance that had eluded me?
As I tried to catch the operative’s eye, she looked past me to someone obviously more important. So, I turned to follow her gaze and saw that it was fixed on a fast-approaching Jonesy and Amanda. Thank heavens they recognised me. Salvation was at hand!
Kissy, kissy, hug, hug – Jonesy always greets me with exuberance but Amanda, on this occasion, seemed in a rush as she stormed through the heavy iron gate, soon followed by Jonesy. Naturally, as friend to the stars, a valued member of any entourage, I too headed towards the heavy iron gate only to be turned away, politely but firmly, by the WS capped operative. Apparently, this gate was just for performers and stage crew. No media allowed. Not even little old moi.
Oh the shame, oh the humiliation! As I re-joined my place in line, I could sense those around me sniggering and, in my head, I could hear the lyric from Gladys Knight’s Midnight Train to Georgia: “Super star but he didn’t get far.” I’d been reduced to a pip.
But bless ‘em, Jonesy and Amanda had sent the cavalry in the shape of Tina, a senior member of the PR team, to pluck me from the ignominy of the line and usher me through what looked to be a hastily configured VIP entrance. She kindly took me to one of the long tables and sat me among my own kind, scribes from various journals along with some ad agency types.

Dignity restored, I sat in the searing heat in anticipation of a dumpling feast while entertained by two fearsome looking dragons writhing to the ancient rhythms of a cacophony of drums. 
The crowd was getting restless and hungry by the time Jonesy and Amanda appeared on stage to run through the formalities. Much to the surprise and disappointment of me and many others, this was not an eating contest to see how many dumplings we could suck down but rather how many people could be served at once and eat together. 
Each person was served just four dumplings of which at least two had to be eaten in a five minute window. So much for the Year of the Pig.

The number to beat, we were told by the official from the Guinness organisation was 750 – an achievement unparalleled since 2013 when it was recorded at Chan’s of Melbourne. Australia, explained the guy from Guinness, was over-represented in achievement to do with food.
Being at the VIP table, I was among the first to be served. But this turned out to be more of a trial than a privilege because no one was allowed to eat before everyone was served. This meant I had to sit, staring ravenously at dumplings, for what seemed like at least 10 minutes. Happily, the heat and humidity of the day would ensure that the morsels before me would neither dry out or go cold.
It took five minutes exactly from the time we were given the green light to start eating till the call to “down chopsticks.” Then we were done – almost. We had to wait another seven or eight minutes while the scrutineers collected data from each table and declare everything Kosher – which technically it was since none of the dumplings contained pork. Some in the Chinese community saw that as snubbing the pig in its own year.
By now I was beginning to understand what Steve Price must have gone through in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. 
Many had travelled 50 km or more, in traffic, from the far western suburbs of Sydney such as Liverpool and Penrith and beyond, just for the opportunity to see their radio idols in the flesh and be part of a world challenge – even if it wasn’t quite climbing Everest. But, hey, that’s been done sooo often, it hardly matters. For most, despite the long drive, the time waiting in the hot sun for a few stuffed pieces of steamed wheat starch, it was fun. 
Finally, the man from Guinness returned to the stage to declare that a new world record had been set. The official count was 764 – just 14 more than the previous record but it was enough. We’d made history! We’d broken a world record. It was experience we’ll never forget and dine out on for years to come – with a commemorative  gold coin to prove it – all thanks to Jonesy and Amanda and WSFM. 


Peter Saxon

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