Erik Brinkmann admits he has restaurant withdrawals.
"I'm here every day," he says. "We closed on Christmas, and I was dizzy -- literally -- because I was off."
The owner of Shelby's Kitchen in Deerfield Beach says he is good at delegating. However, Brinkmann has put in 14 hours every day for the past five years. "I just love what I do."
While his wife, Jennifer, spends the majority of her time in the front of the house, Erik gets behind the line, where a kitchen mistake landed him on the Food Network.
The Terminator, a 24-inch pancake topped with four eggs, home fries, sausage patties, bacon, and toast, is free to anyone who can eat the entire thing. A few years ago, Brinkmann spilled batter on a flattop grill and didn't have anything to stop the growing pancake. Instead of attempting to clean the hot mess, Brinkmann ran next door to Rotelli's Pizza & Pasta and got a pizza paddle.
"I thought it would be easier just to flip it," he says. The result was the pancake the size of a small toddler. He fed his employees the monstrous flapjack, added some other breakfast goodies, and The Terminator was constructed. In the three years since it's been on the menu, nearly 400 competitors have attempted and failed.
The Food Network's Outrageous Food highlighted Shelby's challenge, something the restaurant plays on repeat for patrons who missed the episode when it first aired in December. Recently, Brinkmann told Charlie about his newfound appreciation for 30-minute food television shows and a hidden menu challenge no one has taken on. Yet.
Clean Plate Charlie: Shelby's Kitchen was on the Food Network for The Terminator, but no one has finished it. Do you think anyone ever will?
Erik Brinkmann: I've seen 300-pound men attempt it, but the one who came the closest to finishing was a petite, cheerleader-looking woman. She had to be about 120 pounds. The Terminator ($19.99) is an eight-pound meal, and she finished roughly 7½ pounds of it. If she can come that close, I think someone will finish it one day.
Since it's such a large pancake, how quickly do you go through batter?
The Terminator is 64 ounces of batter. We normally go through 230 pounds on a typical Saturday and Sunday.
How was it filming for the Food Network?
When I got the call, I actually didn't believe it, because they called in the middle of lunch -- one of the busiest times of our day. But they showed up in October and were here for two days, 30 hours in total. We had to make The Terminator 25 times during filming. They had to get every detail in every different angle. I have to hand it to them: I had no idea how much time went into our little segment for a 30-minute show.
You're here every day, so you eat here every day. What is one thing you don't ever get tired of eating?
I could eat a burger every single day. Probably Dad's Burger ($8.69) or the Miami Burger ($7.99). One of the most popular is the Big Boy Burger ($9.99) because it's two half-pound burgers with cheese and bacon. We sell like 12 to 15 of those a day.
The menu has more than 160 items on it. How often does it change?
Roughly every six months. The customers determine what goes on the menu. If a customer wants chicken feet and sauerkraut, I'll put it on the menu if we sell 1,000 of them. Rarely do things come off, but a few new things are always added. One hundred of them are under $10.
You feature a 25-inch "Mega Super Dog" hot dog covered in chili, cheese, onions, and sauerkraut. Has anyone attempted to eat the entire thing?
There isn't a challenge for the hot dog. Most people come in and split it between a few people, sort of like The Terminator. I like when people share. We have the hot dog and bun both specially made for us. No one person has finished it by themselves yet, but they can try.
Did you miss Shelby's Kitchen on Outrageous Food? It's on again in February.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.
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3952 W. Hillsboro Blvd.
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
Open Daily: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.