Sitting next to a cozy stone fireplace at Nita Lake Lodge on a recent Sunday morning, I’m faced with a dilemma.
Do I order another smoked salmon eggs benedict? I’ve already finished two perfectly poached eggs and an English muffin, one half with salmon and another with avocado, hollandaise on the side, plus approximately half of the extra-crispy-on-the-outside-but- still-fluffy-on-the-inside breakfast potatoes on the plate. I’m pretty full. But when the menu says “bottomless,” it would be rude not to, right? Right. Besides, what even is brunch if not two meals at once?
For $28, it’s an objectively good deal that’s been a staple on the boutique hotel’s brunch menu for the last year: “never-ending servings” of any benedict—choose between smoked salmon and pickled red onion; prosciutto cotto rosemary ham with fried sage, or avocado, tomato jam and roasted spiced seeds—served with hollandaise (obviously), German butter potatoes from Pemberton’s North Arm Farm, and a glass of fresh-pressed orange juice that can be upgraded to a mimosa for $5 more.
As our server picks up our plates with the remnants of the third benny we almost finished, my friend asks, “What’s the most someone’s ordered?”
Turns out she wasn’t the only one wondering. Whistler local Luke Fast took to the 40,000-plus-member Whistler Winter Facebook Group last week with the same question. “We need to know the number and intend on coming for the title,” he wrote.
As Fast told Pique, it started when he and a friend were “caught off guard” by the unlimited offer after rolling into the Creekside hotel one recent morning in an attempt to beat a hangover. “We were just blown away, and started thinking like, ‘I wonder what the number is,’” said Fast (who, it should be noted, introduced himself on the phone as the “eggs benny king”). “I want that crown. Whatever it is, we want it.”
The post ended up blowing up, with nearly 100 comments at press time, while Nita Lake Lodge’s director of food and beverage Darren Brown said the restaurant saw an uptick in the number of benny refills over the last weekend.
The current record, according to Brown, is an impressive 13. (“An otherworldly number,” if you ask Fast.) Previously, a staff member who made it up to nine “held the record for quite a while,” said Brown.
The idea came after Brown’s arrival at Nita Lake Lodge, ahead of the 2021 holiday season, when COVID-19 restrictions were still lingering. The question was “What do you do if you [can’t] do a buffet?’” he explained.
The answer? Bottomless bennies, of course. “The theory was sort of, ‘How many can one person really eat anyways. Like, how bad is this going to be?’” Brown said with a laugh. “For most people, three’s a big number. You get a few threes and fours, maybe ...
one’s really been out to see how many they can do as a record until just recently.”
Fast, an almost-27-year-old hot dog salesman, only managed an underwhelming five bennies on his first visit. “But that was kind of just casual recreation before going up the mountain,” he explained. “We weren’t pushing it too hard, it was just a comfortable number that we could do without feeling, like, sick or anything, so that we could actually do some activities afterwards as well.
“Five is kind of our baseline, but I think in a different mental mindset, a competitive mindset, it’s balls to the wall. I think we can at least double that number.”
These days, Nita Lake Lodge’s bottomless bennies and other breakfast items, like a vegan sausage and tofu scramble, truffled mushroom and Brussels sprout hash, and caramelized banana and Nutella French toast, are served in the hotel’s new restaurant concept, “The Den.” Open for breakfast and dinner, The Den offers “a contemporary casual dining experience that reinvents West Coast alpine cuisine,” according to the hotel, and also features a solid roster of plant-based options.
The bottomless bennies are just one way the hotel is aiming to provide value for locals, in addition to incentives like a 10-per- cent locals discount on breakfast and the “locals-only” $59 four-course menu available exclusively to full-time Sea to Sky residents from Sunday through Thursday, until Feb. 2.
As for Fast, an official date hasn’t yet been set for his record challenge, but he hopes to make his first real venture into the world of competitive eating happen within the next month or so.
“I'm not sure what the managers would think about this, but … [it would be funny] to get some guys in and do a little competitive challenge day with it, with whoever wants to come and have some fun,” he said. “But also, I would really feel bad for the kitchen, cooks and everyone trying to pump out 1000 bennies for ski bums.”
In the meantime, Fast is committed to the bit.
“It’s all for comedy,” he admitted. “Like, I’m actually pumped about it ... and I want to win, but I also just want to have fun with my friends. Sometimes the world can be a little too serious and everyone, especially online, can get a little too bent out of shape, so I think it’s always important to throw a little bit or a lot of humour into whatever you’re doing, just to keep things light and keep things fun.”