Sequim natives Ross McCurdy and Nikki Nagler-McCurdy own The Oak Table Cafe in Kingston — created in the image of Nikki’s parents’ restaurant, The Oak Table Cafe in Sequim.
Ross, who was once a contestant on ABC’s “Wheel of Fortune,” has etched his name into the record books several times with his feats of culinary skill. He recently earned a spot in the Guinness World Records book in the “Most pancakes made in one hour (individual)” category.
“Having two Guinness World Records felt great: ‘Most eggs cracked one-handed in one minute’ (32) and ‘Furthest distance grape caught in mouth — self thrown’ (68 feet 1 inch, since broken).
But records are meant to be broken and I have trouble sitting still. I knew there were more records out there that were calling my name.
I spend seven days a week making pancakes. We have a 6-foot griddle just for them. Our pastry chef, Brad Day, uses a mixing bowl the size of a kitchen table mixing flour, sugar, eggs and a secret sourdough yeast starter into the most delicious pancakes either side of the Mississippi. Cooking on a busy Sunday I might make as many as 1,000 pancakes.
It got me thinking, ‘Who is the fastest pancake maker in the world?’ The Guinness Book of World listed 940 pancakes in one hour. I was hooked. I love a challenge. The planning commenced.
As with all of my records I do them to raise money and awareness for an eye condition called uveitis — the leading cause of blindness in the United States and a disease with no cure. My oldest daughter was diagnosed at the age of 2. Now 10, she has weekly shots and monthly day-long infusions at (Seattle) Children’s Hospital. To make the most difference we need the most money and attention. That is where the desire for Guinness World Records comes from.
I started spreading the word about my attempt. In one hour, I thought 1,000 pancakes was within reach. I invited everyone in town to come and watch … as well as have free pancakes. We had a donation jar and some great door prizes. I calculated that I would need about 30 gallons of buttermilk batter. Plus a little extra practice. So I spent a few days laying pancakes, over and over and over and over. The event was coming up. I had everything prepared. Including more than 15 people that came to help.
Guinness World Records has two ways to verify your record. One, you can hire a Guinness representative to come out and witness the event for the low price of $3,000. Or two, you can have three eye witnesses fill out affidavits, get a cameraman to shoot two different angles of video footage and use another volunteer to measure each pancake to make sure it fits the correct dimensions. I went with the second option.
I held the event in The Oak Table Cafe at 5 p.m. after we closed. I had my partner in crime Anthony Gowdy assist me in preparing the buttermilk batter and getting things for me after the timer started. I decided to also use a second 3-foot grill that we normally use for our bacon. That totaled 9 feet of griddle.
Three, two, one, go!
The first ones were easy. I could fit four pancakes per column and 12 columns side by side. By the time I was done laying pancakes onto the grill as fast as I could it was time to flip them. I was moving as fast as I ever had as I started to get into a rhythm. By the time I was done flipping the pancakes they were ready to come off. I threw them onto a plate and passed it to Josh Howard, who was my pancake measurer. They had to be over 5 inches wide and I didn’t lose any on my first turn. 48 down, 952 to go.
I filled the grills again with batter and didn’t have time to enjoy the sight because it was time to flip them again. I did this process for about 20 minutes before I started to get a little tired. By the time I got to 45 minutes I was exhausted. Still no time for breaks. I had made more than 750 pancakes.
I was on track to break the record, but not if I took even a moment’s rest. I just kept going … pancake after pancake. The clock was ticking away. And then I heard a countdown. It was louder than I thought. I didn’t realize, but there were about 100 people cheering me on. I never looked up at all during the hour.
Three, two, one … time.
By the time it was over I had made 1,092 pancakes. I had actually sped up for the last 15 minutes. We fed more than 120 people, but most importantly we raised more than $2,500.
I have the three records hanging in the foyer at the restaurant. Come in and see them at The Oak Table Cafe in Kingston (11171 NE Highway 104, 360-881-0554) before we move to Silverdale in May. The new restaurant will have more wall space.
So if you have any ideas … I love a challenge.”
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.