Another guactastic year!
First, what you’ve all been waiting for: the pictures.
Now, the winners:
BEST PRESENTATION OF GUAC:
1st place: “Guack” by Brandon Oropallo.
This enormous reproduction of a classic “Double Dare” physical challenge — where contestants had to get down on the ground and shove their arm up the nostril of a gigantic nose in order to find a flag — was reimagined for the Guac Bowl stage by putting guac up the nostril. Created out of chicken wire, PVC pipe, and lots of papier-maché, Brandon’s entry had it all: size, retro pop culture humor, interactivity, and good placement on the patio. Needless to say, it won by a nose.
2nd place: “Sarah McGuaclin” by Kara Oropallo.
That’s right, first and second place were both taken by this amazing married couple! Kara’s “Sarah McGuaclin” was a guacified take on the sappy pet adoption commercials starring Sarah McLachlan, complete with slow-motion video of animals eating guac (starring the pets of many Guac Bowl contestants), heart-string-pulling messages on the screen, and that horrible, treacly song “I Will Remember You”… which played over and over and over.
3rd place: “The Guacet Launcher” by Rob Saccenti.
What to say about this feat of engineering, fire power, and guac other than I can’t believe it didn’t win either Best Presentation or The Icarus Award. Mad genius Rob Saccenti made a compressed-air-powered rifle that shot your guac ten feet across the yard onto your tortilla chip at the center of a target. It also splattered guac all over the place, so Rob tarped the entire lower area of the patio, creating a shooting range that was enjoyed all afternoon (and well into the night) by all. Maybe because this entry was placed away from the other guacs, people forgot about it when it came time to vote. In any case, it provided tons of entertainment and succeeding hitting the bullseye of my heart.
BEST ALTERNATIVE GUAC:
This category was all over the place! There were many deserving guacs that they split the votes. There was a three way tie for third place, and second place only lost by 2 votes. Crazy!
1st place: “Guac Corn” by Christine Landry and Robert Bernal.
Christine was already in the elite club of four-time winners (along with Tim McKeon, Shahan Sanossian, and myself)… But this entry made her the first five-time champion. She now stands alone atop a mountain of guac, looking down on all of us poor, miserable fools. This year, she and Robert created “Guac Corn,” a popcorn that somehow — miraculously, defying nature and God’s plan — managed to include all the classic ingredients of guacamole… in powdered form. The popcorn was dusted with avocado powder (which, apparently, is a thing), onion powder, garlic powder, cilantro, lime salt, cumin, paprika, peppers… and “all-natural food coloring,” which you don’t normally see in homemade guac, but I guess she needed to make it look green. And despite how that sounds, it was tasty. Congrats to Christine on her peerless feat, and to Robert, who I assume nodded a lot and handed the maestro her ingredients so she could conduct her magic.
2nd place: “Guaco Pizza” by Steve Tavernia.
Another outside-the-box (though not technically) idea from the mind of Steve! This year, he made two guac pizzas — one chorizo and jalapeño, the other vegetarian — that combined the gooey deliciousness of pizza with the gooey deliciousness of guacamole. Together, it was a very very gooey entry that started off looking like pizza, and ended up looking like boxes of creamy green glop. Once again, Steve shot himself in the foot by arriving on the late side of voting, much like 2009 when his “Lego My Guaffle” entry wowed the crowd who had already submitted their ballots. Next year, I suggest Steve should camp out in our yard the night before, so he can set up his entry nice and early.
3rd place (tie): “Let Them Eat Guac” by Tim, Danielle and Henry McKeon
Tim is renown for his delicious pies, so he decided to make… a cake. Well, close enough. Still, this culinary confection was better than the idea “guacamole cake” suggests. Light, fluffy, with just a hint of avocado in the cake and frosting. Maybe it wasn’t guac-y enough for voters? Tim is part of the elite club of four-time champions, yet unlike his fellow four-timer Christine, he didn’t include the other classic guac ingredients (tomato, onion, garlic, etc.) in his entry… And perhaps that made all the difference.
3rd place (tie): “Guac Balls” by Jim Sutherland.
These were pure awesome. Balls of guac rolled in beer-batter, deep fried, and surrounded by bacon (or not, for the vegetarians). I’m not normally a fan of the cooked guacs, but somehow the beer-batter protected the guac inside from turning gross. It got my vote. I believe this entry suffered from the classic “not enough to go around” syndrome, because they were gone pretty quickly and probably missed out on some potential voters. Although I did overhear someone say they ate two… but I won’t name names. (Cough, Kenny, cough.)
3rd place (tie): “Smokey The Guac” by Rob Wilson and Emily Bloom.
The special ingredient in this guac was liquid smoke. It was delicious, no denying it… But I think this entry suffered from straddling the line between Traditional and Alternative. By submitting it onto the Alternative category, it competed amongst the likes of fried guac balls, guac fudges, and guac pizzas — and seemed tame in comparison. But if it were in the Traditional category, it might have had a shot at glory.
BEST TRADITIONAL GUAC:
1st place: “Chi-Guac-tle” by Dave Allen and Lauren Edson.
Confusing in name but simple in execution and complex in flavor… And that’s what you need to take home the trophy in the Best Traditional Tasting Guac category. The head-scratching name was cleared up with a straight-forward sign: “Chi-Guac-tle (Guac + Chipotle)”. Dave and Lauren are long time contestants and first-time winners. Great job.
2nd place (tie): “30 Guac” by Julie Halton.
Last year’s winner of Best Traditional attempted to defend her crown with this (sort of) “30 Rock” inspired guac… But by her own admission “kind of phoned it in this year.” Well, second place is pretty impressive for phoning it in. I’m sure there’s a Liz Lemon joke involved in this guac somewhere.
2nd place (tie): “Roasted Garlic and Corn Guac” by Tom and Ameake Owens.
First time to the party, and they place in Traditional. And they don’t even know it yet, because they left the party before the trophy presentation! Today they will see… And someday they will pick up their glass bowl from me.
THE ICARUS AWARD
1st place: “The Guacquarium” by Adam Pava.
I went into this year trying to make something simple and funny… And ended up making something you’ll never forget (but wish you could). My “Guacquarium” featured a Guac Bowl first: living animals. Or as my sign said: “Living fish on the outside! Dead fish on the inside!” Thirty brave goldfish and minnows swam in the outer layer of a self-assembled aquarium-within-an-aquarium, to create the illusion that they were swimming around in guac, which was on the inside layer. The guac itself was filled with dried anchovies. The final effect was something like a fish graveyard in a horror movie starring fish. Also, the salty dried anchovies that I found at the Korean store made it taste (and smell — oh the smell) like an actual aquarium, which is… authentic? No, disgusting. That’s the word I was searching for.
2nd place: “Guack” by Brandon Oropallo.
I guess some voters didn’t like the idea of having to get on all fours and shove their arm up a giant nostril in order to get guac on their chip. Those people don’t understand true artistry.
3rd place (tie): “Guacet Launcher” by Rob Saccenti.
Honestly, I have no idea how this didn’t win the Icarus. Maybe it was too awesome, and people didn’t want to give it the “loser” award. Maybe it wasn’t terrible enough, despite the fact that it splattered guac all over your chip and the patio. Stuck in a void between amazing and horrific, the Guacet Launcher split its votes and ended up placing in two categories, but taking home zero trophies. But it did provide hours of entertainment after most people went home, as we loaded it with whatever we could think of — beer, carrots, orange juice — and shot at each other’s faces. See, that’s what you miss out on when you leave early.
OTHER NOTABLE CRAP:
- The new location (our new house and patio) provided the opportunity for some additions to a party that had basically been the same for the last decade. The most exciting new feature was the addition of a WINNERS’ LOUNGE — a private club with a velvet rope, with exclusive access for all past trophy-winners. Stocked with a full bar, fine chocolates, and photos of club members, it provided a sanctuary for champions to mingle with other champions, without having to make small talk with the lowlifes who don’t understand our prestigious, luxurious lifestyle. To outsiders, it was simply a converted storage shed with low ceilings and some spiderwebs; but to us, it was a place to feel superior, as the true one-percenters of Guac.
- This new Winners’ Lounge gave us the ideal place for a WINNERS’ TOAST, a new tradition where all the past champions in attendance welcome the new champions into our club, and toast them with champagne. Said champagne was drunk out of the trophies, which hopefully aren’t riddled with bacteria.
- Every year there seems to be a new trend in the entries. A few years ago we had multiple alcoholic guacs, other years there were competing smoothies, cookies, frozen treats, etc. This year, the trend was DESSERT GUACS. Angela Park’s “A Box of Guaclates” featured individual treats made up of avocado fudge with candied tomatoes, candied onions, and topped with candied cilantro. The Desowitz family contributed “Guaclate,” a very chocolatey dip with avocado, served with pretzel sticks. And of course, Tim’s above-mentioned cake. And yet, none of them won — just desserts, I guess.
- Once again, Nikki Giles dressed to impress, creating an outfit to match her guac. This year, to compliment her “Guacpocalypse” entry made with friends Carly McLean and Evan Marcus, the gals wore halos on their heads that held tortilla chips, and Evan held a mighty chalice filled with guac. And all three wore T-shirts telling us to repent, for the end of avocados is near. Just like the Mayans predicted.
- By far the most disgusting development of the day was “Michelle Guacman” by Blake Lemons, Vy Trinh, and Russ Hudson. And I’m not talking about her political views. This guac went from bright green to pitch black over the course of the afternoon — probably a combination of sitting in the sun and not using enough citrus in the recipe. It was like watching somebody slowly burn to death over the course of hours, and not being able to stop it. But at least that burn victim was Michelle Guacman.
- Overall, 118 avocados were used in the making of this year’s guac. That’s 8 less than last year, and 91 down from two years ago… Yet the entries themselves seem as big (or bigger) than ever. Less guac, more glam. I’m okay with that.
A hearty thank you for all who came, ate, and even helped clean up! You guys are amazing. See you next year.