Competitive eater Zermatt Neo is Singapore’s up-and-coming mukbang star
From eating 6kg of laksa to 10 plates of chicken rice, he’s the guy that can stomach it all.
Zermatt Neo is known for his ability to consume food in record-breaking time.
Some of his noteworthy achievements include inhaling 2kg worth of curry rice in three minutes, and finishing 100 takoyaki balls in 12 minutes.
Surprisingly, the competitive eater and mukbang star doesn’t have any cravings.
In fact, when 30-year-old Zermatt goes for video shoots most of the time, he doesn’t feel hungry. He also prefers bland, soupy food.
But there are some things he would rather not eat. Spice and alcohol are his two weaknesses.
When Zermatt first started his YouTube channel in 2014, he posted dozens of videos of himself tackling over-the-top eating challenges, sometimes in record time.
In 2018, the full-time content creator moved on to posting mukbang videos after realising its growing popularity.
Mukbang, also known as “eating broadcasts” in Korean, is a form of audiovisual entertainment where hosts eat large amounts of food and interact with their audience.
While the trend originated in South Korea, it has since expanded globally, with many mukbang stars emerging from America, Japan and China.
“The keyword ‘mukbang’ tends to be popular on YouTube. That is why I started to incorporate mukbang videos in my channel,” said Zermatt, who posts regular updates about his eating pursuits on his Instagram account, @zermattneo.
Sean Lee, Zermatt’s manager, weighs every portion of food to make sure he does not over-eat, before Zermatt films his mukbang or competitive eating videos. Zermatt can stomach up to 6.5kg worth of food each time.
Zermatt usually enlists the help of a videographer to shoot his videos. Once the equipment is set up, he puts on a big smile for the camera – and the food.
For someone who literally eats for a living, we wondered how Zermatt manages to keep his lean body in shape.
“I don’t film every day, and I restrict myself to a diet of broccoli, salmon and nuts. Then, I work out a bunch. I spend two to three hours at the gym every other day,” said Zermatt, who is signed to food challenge organiser, Food League Singapore, as a competitive eater.
Unlike other mukbang creators who tend to feature burgers or pizzas, Zermatt tends to feature local food in his videos as about 70 to 80 per cent of his viewers come from all around the world.
“My goal is to showcase Singapore’s food and culture, as well as to establish a sort of guideline for competitive eating.
“Mukbangs are a great way to garner attention,” said Zermatt.
Sometimes, Zermatt chooses what to eat next based on the comments he receives on his YouTube videos.
He said: “I will pick something that is relatable. For now, I have a lot of viewers coming from India, so I will pick some sort of local Indian food, such as briyani or butter chicken.
While Zermatt has to deal with fluctuations in his weight, ranging from 1 to 3kg, in between shoots, he perseveres because it has become his livelihood.
It certainly helps that Zermatt gets paid around $500 to $800 by his company for each video.
The young mukbang star said: “Back then, it was about bragging rights. Now, it’s a career. I want to do it better, to improve my following and reach out to more people.”
This is part of Behind the #gram, an ongoing series on Instagram influencers. In this series: