- St Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis is home to the hottest prawn cocktail in America.
- Joey Chestnut holds the record for most shrimp cocktails eaten at 18 pounds. 6 ounces.
- The Indy Canal Walk is the perfect place to try this dish for a perfect view of the city.
- You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.
A transcript of the video follows.
Jake Gabbard: Freshly ground horseradish root. Plump black tiger prawn. Refreshing tomato sauce. Everything combined to – [coughing] Spicy shrimp cocktail in America. [rock music] Shoot! Today I’m in my home state of Indiana to try the legendary shrimp cocktail from St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis. Food writer Alison Stein Wellner actually wrote in an article that the prawn cocktail at St. Elmo Steak House is the hottest dish in the world. According to her, it hit currywurst in Germany, spiced sardines and chicken curry in India, and red chillies in Honduras. So she really means the hottest in the world. It has been featured in shows like “Man v. Food” and even “Parks and Recreation”.
Ron: Gentlemen, welcome to the St. Elmo Steakhouse! [men cheering] We’re going to have some meat tonight!
Jake: So I’m here in my home state of Indiana to answer the ultimate question: is this flavorful dish really worth the drive? [rock music] To learn a little about what’s in that shrimp cocktail, here is St. Elmo Steak House owner Craig Huse.
Craig: Yes, that St. Elmo shrimp cocktail. It starts with just four black tiger prawns in the bowl. It’s an ice bowl. These shrimp are cute. They have a nice salty bite. They’re really crispy on the bite. And all that goes with this shrimp cocktail is a large ladle of our famous cocktail sauce. [dynamic music] We’re not going to reveal all of the sauce’s secrets. It’s loaded there with tons of horseradish. So these are big pieces of root and we grind them fresh every day. There is a tomato element. There is vinegar element. There are some ingredients.
Jake: A 51 mile drive to Indianapolis could take a second so I thought I’d give my favorite athlete around the world a call. Hey Siri, call Joey “Jaws” Chestnut. [phone ringing] Now Joey holds the world record for most Nathan’s hot dogs eaten, and luckily he also holds the world record for most St. Elmo prawn cocktails eaten. Joey, you hold the world record for most St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktails. How many did you eat
Joey: Oh dear God. I think my record is like 19 pounds, 6 ounces. It’s up there. It’s a huge record.
Jake: And how on earth did you eat that in eight minutes?
Joey: I would take the shrimp and I knew it was going to hurt. The sauce was, all the prawns were covered in sauce. And I would just eat, eat, eat, drink some water, take it down. The only good thing about this competition is that the competition is held in Indianapolis in December. So it’s pretty cold outside. So my hands were numb; My face was numb. So all my feelings were a bit numb and numb from the cold. But it still burned.
Jake: OK, now I have a real question. And you can be as honest as you want. I drive around and claim that this is the hottest prawn cocktail in America. Is it actually?
Joey: Oh yeah. This shrimp cocktail is definitely the hottest. But when I say spicy, the horseradish seasoning is not like a pepper. And the peppers stay with you and upset your stomach. The reason I could make about 19 pounds of it is because it goes away. It’s just this really intense heat, but it goes away.
Jake: Do you have any advice or tips for me before I try this thing?
Joey: Oh my god don’t panic! Your first reaction will be panic. The people who panic are not going to enjoy it that much in my opinion. So just breathe and it will be hard.
Jake: Well. I feel fine now I feel prepared. I am nervous. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
Joey: Brilliant. Great to talk to you
Jake: We speak later. Goodbye. [phone chimes] It’s terrifying not to panic minutes before you eat. And honestly it gives me a lot of panic. Before we got to the steakhouse, I wanted to take a second to overdo Indy. It doesn’t get nearly enough respect, and there is a lot you can do in just a day. So I went down to Monument Circle and downtown to see the sights. And then I went to the Motor Speedway where the Indy 500 happened. Finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to Indiana if I didn’t swing past a grain field. OK, here’s a little tip for you. The prawn cocktail at St. Elmo Steak House is only offered for sitting down. However, if you go right next to sister restaurant Harry & Izzy’s, you can buy it to take away. And I will do that. The Indianapolis Canal Walk is a 3-mile loop that serves as a hub for Indy’s vibrant community to paddle boat, run, or just enjoy the great outdoors. And it will be the perfect place for me to have that prawn cocktail. [funky music] This is a nice view of Indianapolis. Well, you have a view of the entire skyline. But the real reason I’m here is to try the hottest prawn cocktail in America. [coughs] Here we go. Look at this. First I’ll just try. I’ll just have a little taste. All right, just a small bite. [relaxed music] [coughing] That was a small bite. This is good stuff. That’s great, super good. Here’s what I taste with this shrimp cocktail. I am electrocuted in my brain. [sniffs] And my brain kind of goes numb. Do you know the moments in your life when you just stop functioning? With every single bite, your body stops working for a second. And I take small bites. I don’t even upload it. I think what surprises you is that it isn’t even a second. Once it gets in your mouth before it even hits your tongue, you are already getting overwhelmed. God it’s so good Do you know what’s weird? Usually the prawn cocktail sauce is very rich in tomatoes. It’s really easy with that. You get the tomato, it’s there, but not on your face. It is very lemony, citric, light. But in terms of taste it is really well balanced and somehow refreshing, honest. I think it tastes great. Try it. Try it.
Victoria: Oh. [coughs] You were a little bit dramatic.
Jake: OK, if this really is the hottest prawn cocktail in America, there is only one way to try it. And that’s way more and way too much of that to put on a shrimp and eat it all in one bite and see what happens. I might throw up. I might throw up.
Joey: No panic!
Jake: We are sorry. [energetic music] [coughing] Spicy. [coughs] Spicy shrimp cocktail in America. I think that will last. And now it’s time to add up how much money I spent to get that prawn cocktail overlooking the canal. I spent $ 15 on gasoline. I spent $ 8 on parking. The channel is completely free; you just go up. The channel is yours. It is wonderful. I spent $ 15.95 on America’s hottest shrimp cocktail. And the bottle of Tums I have to buy to get over this burn, about $ 4. So if you add it all up … [buzzes] Bing, Bing, Bing, graphics, graphics. And $ 42.95. That seems like a lot of money, but it gave me the opportunity to try America’s hottest prawn cocktail that keeps that promise, a scenic view of the skyline and a vibrant city experience. Was it worth the drive to answer the last question? Hell yes it was! It was fantastic! Indianapolis is a great place and everyone needs to come and see it. [upbeat music] St. Elmo sells their cocktail sauce in grocery stores. The stuff was so good that I’m going to grab some bottles and take them with me. Plus, Joey Chestnut has his own line of incredible sauces and condiments available in stores across the Midwest. [coughs] This is good stuff.