Virtual Guac Bowl ’21: virtually, the same thing.



Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s a global pandemic… so the difficult decision was made to not cram together and infect each other just so we could eat silly guacamole dioramas. Instead, the contest was moved online, which actually provided a delightful silver lining: we got a lot of entries from old friends who have since moved out of L.A., and otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. I’m not saying I’m glad there’s a deadly disease ravaging our world, but this was a nice unexpected perk. Also, there was less far clean-up.

You can view the pictures (and videos!) here:  

(I’ll eventually get them up on the photo page, for posterity, but I have to figure out how to get video files on here.)

And now…





1st place: “Guacing From Home: Perception vs Reality” by Kara Oropallo.

In the first of many entries that took on current events, Kara’s guac was a two-parter that showed what Working From Home looks like on Zoom, versus all the crap we hide just off-screen. It really hit home for all of us stuck in videoconference meetings all week. If my math is correct, Kara started attending the party 15 years ago, and this is her FIRST win! Years of impressive guacs that were overshadowed by the flashier entries of her husband, perennial winner Brandon, Kara finally steps out of the darkness and snags the big prize for herself. All from the comfort of her home in Texas.


2nd place: “The Queen’s Guacit” by Maurissa Horwitz and Travis Mutchler.

Maurissa and Travis’s entry was a nod to the Netflix limited series about chess and retro wigs. No rook-ies to impressive guacs, these grandmasters gave us another impressive endgame. The coolest feature was the chess pieces made of actual guac, frozen in molds. Maurissa commented that they probably would’ve melted in the California sunshine, but they survived long enough for a photo shoot in Connecticut where they’re living these days.


3rd place (tie): “Guiking Funeral” by Brandon Oropallo.

Brandon also used home-field advantage, in his case a backyard pool, where he staged a Viking Funeral. Complete with fire, oars, sail and a video with dramatic Norse music, it’s the type of entry that wouldn’t have been possible in years past… in the a fjord’ed space. There’d just be Norway to do it.


3rd place (tie): “Anti-Guac-terial Wipes and Gel” by Adam Pava.

I decided to make an homage to everyone’s favorite pastime these days, sanitizing our hands. My “Clorguax wipes” and “Anti-guac-terial gel” were mostly just guacamole in different containers, but I did mix in some green Jello to get the proper goopy consistency for the hand sanitizer. Who was this for? Who actually tried it? Nobody. I’ve been stuck at home too long, I’ve gone crazy.



1st place: “The Queen’s Guacit” by Maurissa Horwitz and Travis Mutchler.

Second in Presentation, but first in Alternative! For obvious reasons, this year’s Alternative category couldn’t be judged based on taste, so it was more about the effort and creativity put into the entries. And it didn’t take stolen green-and-white pills for everyone to visualize on the ceiling why this chessboard was a winner. After these guys got the Icarus Award last year, this was an impressive checkmate from a seemingly losing position. (I am officially out of chess terms.) 


2nd place: (tie): “Farm to Table Guac” by Michael Zimmer and Tiera Gunlock.

Hunkering down on a remote family farm in Missouri isn’t just a pleasant way to spend a quarantine — it’s also useful for coming up with a clever Guac Bowl entry. Michael and Tiera’s entry was one of many video submissions this year — showing Tiera driving a giant tractor that fork-lifted guacamole right to a patiently waiting Zimmer. There was dramatic tension, there was soaring music, there were smiling faces, and finally, there was guac. Maybe I just really miss going to the movies, but I was nearly moved to tears.


 2nd place (tie): “Guiking Funeral” by Brandon Oropallo.

The Viking ship didn’t have quite enough wind in its sails to reach victory. Maybe it could’ve used a Leif blower.


3rd place: (tie): “This Smells Like My Guagina Candle” by Aaron Pava

My brother’s entry was an ode to an infamous item sold on Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop” website. Maybe you’ve read about it: Like the original candle, this entry was controversial, risk-taking, and left a lingering funk over the proceedings. 


3rd place: (tie): Guacing from Home: Perception vs Reality” by Kara Oropallo.

I’ve already written about this, but like the name implies, you see more when you look at it from another angle. In the selfie Kara took with her entry, we can see the dollhouse she used to stage the scene — and it’s all the more impressive when you realize she had to shoot the “perception” photo through a tiny dollhouse door. As if Zoom lighting isn’t tricky enough.



A note on this category: usually, we do Best Tasting Traditional Guac, but since nobody could taste anyone else’s entries, I decided to change it up for this year and focus it on the title. Which is something people have been asking for for years. It made for a VERY tight race, only one vote separating each of the winners… with a tie in there too! 

1st place: “Guacing from Home: Perception vs Reality.”

A double first place win for Kara!


2nd place (tie): “Guac-a-bye Baby” by Angela Pava.

Angela has babies on the mind these days, so her entry was a little avocado-head newborn in a cradle, in a warm blanket of guac. 


2nd place (tie): “This Smells Like My Guagina Candle” by Aaron Pava.

I hear this may have caused some friction at home. I don’t know if Aaron had to sleep on the couch after making this, but I hope it was worth it. 


3rd place: “TicGuac” by Henry McKeon.

Tweenager Henry represents the young folks with this TicTok dance video entry! A perfect pun for an all-online contest this year.



1st place: “DJ Guac: My Guac InTox” by Matt Waynee.

This was the only runaway victory this year, earning nearly half the votes for Icarus. And it defines the category perfectly: the amount of work it must’ve taken Waynee to record a song, animate a video, and photoshop a lyric sheet… only to have many folks (myself included) stare in utter confusion. Is it a parody of a rap song that I’m too old/unhip to know? Is it an original creation? It is a satire of a meme? Honestly, I have no idea. Waynee works with teens, teaching them movie making, so maybe he’s more up on youth culture these days. In any case, I loved it, and I appreciate Waynee always going big with his swings!


2nd place: “This Smells like my Guagina Candle” by Aaron Pava

Goop, he did it again.


3rd place: (tie): Adam and Brandon.

We only got 3 votes each, so really it was all about the ones above.



Really, it was the year of the video. 

  • It makes sense, given the virtual nature of this year’s contest, but it was still cool to see this new form of entertainment, “moving pictures” take flight. All in, we had 6 video entries: the aforementioned “Farm to Table Guac”, “TicGuac,” “Guiking Funeral,” and “My Guac InTox”… but also mini-movies from Christine & Robert, and my sister Michelle. 
  • The former made “Dr. Guacanstein’s Monster Mash!” which had both still shots and a little creature feature starring a claymation mad scientist, dutch angles, and lots of lightning SFX. My personal opinion is that it got snubbed with too-few votes, which I can only account for it getting uploaded a little on the later side — still before the game started, but the second-to-last one that came in. And people started looking/voting pretty early this year. 
  • Michelle’s entry, appropriately titled “You’re not the only animation prodigy in the family” was mostly a shot of my adorable baby nephew messily eating guac, run through a filter to look vaguely animated. Pretty limited-audience stuff, but we’re all starved for content these days.


Truly worldwide. 

  • This year, we had entries from: Costa Rica (four of them!), Mexico City, Austin, Dallas, Connecticut, the Bay Area, Missouri, Ohio, along with our usual L.A. folks. Just like Zoom has allowed us to work from anywhere in the world, now we can do guacamole contests that way too. Someone should write a think piece about that.


For our records

  • 55 avocados were used to make this year’s guac. Far lower than our average, but that makes sense given so many entries were videos/photoshopped/not made for, uh, eating.


All in all, I’m so grateful to call you all my friends, and that we could keep up this dumb tradition, even in the craziest of years. I desperately look forward to seeing your faces in person next year!