HIS gut-busting 5,000 calorie breakfast started out as a joke — but after appearances on TV, radio stations and in the national press, Mario’s Cafe Bar has become Bolton’s hottest new tourist destination.

The Italian chef’s “Ultimate Breakfast” hit the headlines back in December when it featured in The Bolton News.

But since his debut in this paper, Mario Frappola has become an A-list celebrity in the town, appearing on Granada Reports, BBC radio, Xfm, Galaxy FM, and The Sun newspaper.

Our video of Mario’s breakfast has also proved a hit on video sharing website Youtube.

And thanks to the publicity, big breakfast fanatics from all over the country have been flocking to the humble “greasy spoon” in Market Street, Westhoughton.

The 52-year-old chef said: “It has been crazy. Ever since we were in The Bolton News I have had people calling up from all over the country.

“I was on ITV and I’ve been on lots of radio stations too — I can’t believe it.”

Following Mario’s high profile media appearances, he has been inundated with calls from willing victims eager to take on his big breakfast challenge.

He added: “We have had more than 20 people come down especially to try the big breakfast.

“I have had another 10 people call up this week after we were in a national newspaper.

“Someone even came down from Scotland and someone from Spain saw the video on the internet and called up to ask if they could come over.”

For just over a tenner, brave punters are served 10 eggs, 10 sausages, 10 rashers of bacon, 10 slices of toast, five black pudding slices, tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans.

If they finish the meal in 20 minutes — they get it free of charge.

Mario does not even allow them a cup of tea and even asks any customer brave enough to take on the challenge to sign a disclaimer taking responsibility for their own health.

A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation warned: “Eating this amount in one sitting is not a good idea.”

But despite the obvious health risks, the 52-year-old chef insists it is all just a bit of fun.

He said: “It started as a joke but no one has finished it yet — I don’t think it will ever happen.”